Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Living a life of humility is one of the most difficult things that we as humans can do. As soon as we think that we have this quality, it has already slipped away from us. Even our motives for actions that may look from the outside as humble are often tainted with pride. We often think that doing something for someone else will result in some kind action coming back our way. In fact, so many of us expect that if we do something kind to another person, even if it doesn’t come back to us from that person, somehow the kindness will be returned in some way back to us. Jesus says in Matthew 10:8 to his disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” We give, not to be noticed by others (pride), but because we have already been given everything by God.
Our pride comes out in quarrels and conflicts. James speaks of our inner desires that become so important that we will fight and become angry and bitter because we cannot get our way. Yet in the same context it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”…and… “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (Js. 4:1,6,10).” We often want to take matters into our own hands, not believing that God can be trusted with the situation that we face or the people with which we are dealing. Yet in 1 Peter 5:5 he tells us to “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” Peter tells us to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” The enemy wants us to turn against one another. He is described as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We must be on the alert.
Jesus is our example of all humility. He was the “Teacher,” the “Master,” the “Lord,” and yet He stooped down and washed the disciples feet. He told them that the greatest in the Kingdom of God will be the servant of all. Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:29). Jesus laid down His life in order to give us life. That is quite humbling when you think about how Jesus came from the highest position to the lowest. He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross. If we are to boast, we can only boast in the cross of Christ alone. New life comes only from the sacrifice of Christ himself. He gives us a reconciled life to God and to one another. We are all one at the foot of the cross.
When I have to start defending myself, I also need to ask the reason behind it. Is it because of pride? Is there some greater thing that I am protecting more than Christ Himself and His Kingdom? The question I need to ask myself is, “Who is on the throne of my life in this area?” Is it okay to give up our “rights” for the greater good of God’s Kingdom? We are in a generation of promoting “me first,” comparing ourselves to others, and boosting the self. It is important that we allow God’s Spirit and His desires to bring us the fruit that is lasting and shines the light of Jesus around us—even if it means swallowing our pride. I say this because I, too, need to give up pride daily. I need to remember the Master whom I serve who gave everything for my life. This is our motivation to point to Him clearly as the reason for our hope, our joy, our lasting peace. May we seek Him first.