What does it mean to be humble? To scorn oneself, to reject oneself, to loathe oneself and refuse to accept anything good for oneself? Although most of us would say that is not humility, that is often how humility is enacted in our lives.
As a math equation, it could look like this:
Realizing I’m not good enough + refusing to accept good things about me = HUMILITY.
Which looks completely different than what we know about Jesus. Picking up in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he says about Jesus,
“Who, being in very nature God…”
Just pause there. What are the rights of God? The right to control. The right to have power. The right to make himself famous. The right to judge. The right to strike down others. The right to demand that people submit to him.
In his walk on earth, did Jesus do these? No. He gave up his rights. The reason Jesus could give up his rights though, is because he was full. He was filled with every bit of being God that was possible, yet the passage continues on
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross.”
Jesus made himself nothing. It was his choice. Jesus surrendered his rights. And that is where true humility lies. Humility does not mean you talk yourself down, that you hate yourself, or that you refuse anything good someone says about you. Doing those things is way too easy for us, and it comes to naturally for us.
What is hard? Accepting God’s truth about us. Here are some things God says about you if you are in Christ.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:3-10
What is actually hard is accepting God’s truth for us, instead of arguing with him that he just couldn’t be right.
When you accept God’s truth for you, and let yourself be filled with every good thing in Him, then you can understand your rights that you have in Christ. When you understand and claim your rights, then you can surrender yourself to God.
Humility is surrendering your rights for the glory of God. Humility is emptying yourself of your rights because you want the Spirit working in you, even more than you want yourself to be seen for who you are now in Christ. Humility is trusting that the day to day walk in the Spirit is more wonderful than claiming than hanging your hat on the eternity that is to come. Humility is allowing yourself to accept what God has done in you, but not let yourself become arrogant in it because it was never you who did the work. It was God!
What would it be like if you could accept the things God has for you? What it would be like if you could accept his forgiveness, grace, and mercy for yourself? Give yourself permission to feel that, and to stay there for a little while.
Now, what it would be like to not hang on to your accomplishments, your status, your prideful understanding that led you to your salvation, but instead to simply empty yourself of all of these things for the glory of God? What would it be like to let yourself be humble? Give yourself permission to go there. Watch what happens in your relationships.