Jesus Christ – The Perfect Example of Humility
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jesus said that those who take his yoke upon them would “learn of him.” What would they learn? Meekness and lowliness. Humility is one of the hallmarks of Christ-like character. The Christian who walks with Christ on a daily basis through Bible reading, prayer and obedience will become increasingly like him. That is, he will exhibit more and more humility.
In Philippians 2 Paul exhorts us to show humility. He uses Jesus Christ as the perfect example.
Philippians 2:3-11 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Humility is not concerned with self-image or reputation; it allows others to be perceived as superior. The humble person does not spend much time defending himself or habilitating his image, nor is he concerned with maintaining social status. Jesus possessed all the glory of God the Father but “thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” That means he did not feel compelled to grasp onto or protect his status. He willingly humbled himself by becoming a man and even subjected himself to the hatred, abuse and humiliation of those who were inferior to him.
Christ is the perfect embodiment of humility. All who come to him for salvation must humble themselves in the process. Even after salvation, as a believer grows spiritually, he increases in meekness and lowliness (Matt 11:29). In a striking contrast to this world’s thinking, even (and especially) those who are leaders in the church are to exemplify humility in the form of servant leadership.
Humility Means Servant Leadership
Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Example of Christ
John 13:13-15 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Humility Leads to Exaltation
Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
The Bible says that after Christ took upon himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death that God exalted him and gave him a name which is above every name (Php 2:7-9). This passage starts by telling us to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. God’s exaltation comes when we put down our own fleshly pride and humble ourselves like Christ. This exaltation may not come in this life, but we can be assured that it will come. Remember, the Pharisees sought man’s exaltation through pride and got it in this life (Matt 6:5). The Christian is to seek God’s exaltation through humility and look for exaltation in the next life.