Humility

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I have had the privilige of sharing a meditation during our Wednesday Evening Lenten worship. Each one considers a characteristic of Jesus that can be gleaned from Philippians 2:5-11. This was the first in the series. It considers humility.

If we think about it, Jesus really can turn our worldview upside down. Especially in a purely American context, where rugged individualism and striving for the top have influenced many for a long time. To be the best often meant climbing over others to reach the pinnacle.

Jesus directly challenges that approach to life. In fact, of the many words that could be used to describe Jesus, “humility” ranks toward the top. Humility: by definition is to have a modest or low view of one’s own importance.

That’s what Paul is saying in this passage from Philippians. And I think it a very appropriate place for us to dwell upon in this season of Lent. Lent is a time for introspection. I believe these words of Scripture are encouraging us to do just that. Jesus, being fully divine, still did not consider that to be flaunted during Hs time among people. The word ‘exploited’ carries the meaning taking in a robbery. It wasn’t by using others that the Lord was going to leave a mark on the world. Instead, Jesus reversed the “normal” outlook of the best being at the very top. His humble servant heart placed him at the bottom, holding us all up. I think of it as an inverted pyramid, where Jesus is at the bottom point, holding all of humankind up.

It is in doing the smaller things that can speak such volume to others.

Please consider these words from the first stanza of the poem The Things That Count written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,

Great deeds of valour and might,

That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.

But it is the doing of old things,

Small acts that are just and right;

And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;

In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when you want to play—

Dear, those are the things that count.

Next, Jesus further modeled humility, to a point where I dare say I would have trouble going: He emptied himself. What does that mean? He set aside any personal agenda, placing the needs of the many over any individual want/need He might have felt. And He did it every day, even in the ‘little’ things. The Lord did these things of his own accord. He chose to simply to be obedient to God’s plan.

More of Wheeler’s poem:

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways

Where the wonder-seekers crowd

That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.

But it is keeping to true ways,

Though the music is not so loud,

And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along alone;

In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a groan –

Dear, these are the things that count.

It is in the obedience, not only exhibited by Jesus, but by you and me as well. We are to empty ourselves as well, whatever that entails in our own circumstance. For me, I refer to the words of John the Baptist when he said speaking of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NRSV). Humility does not seek applause or even recognition. In fact, humility is its own goal and end. To be truly humble is not to think less of myself, but instead it is to think of myself less often.

May our Lenten journey lead us all to a deeper, more meaningful and effective faith. I leave you with the final stanza of the poem I’ve been reading from:

My dear, it isn’t the loud part

Of creeds that are pleasing to God, not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or song.

But it is the beautiful proud part

Of walking with feet faith-shod;

And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go wrong;

In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when the way seems long –

Dear, these are the things that count.

Thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck