1 Peter 5:6-7. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
If we’re honest humility might be the most difficult thing for us in all of life. And if I’m honest I will admit that I spend almost every waking moment thinking about myself, my own agenda, how to get what I want, how to solve my problems on my own. Humility is definitely not our default. It requires a supernatural force to take over our hearts. It requires “to live is Christ.”
The word “humble” in Greek (tapeinos) means lowly, base, unfit, of little value, in the dirt. In Greco-Roman culture it was always a vice, never a virtue. No person should humble themselves. No person should seek to lower their status or give up their honor. No person should want to be dependent upon another, and those that are, are just worthless slaves. Who in their right mind would choose to make themselves lower? What sane free person would choose to make themselves a slave?
And then came Christ.
The only time in scripture that Christ describes his own heart he called himself “gentle and humble” (Mt. 11:29). And in calling himself humble (lowly), Jesus just turned the greatest vice into the greatest virtue. Without Jesus’ own tapeinos we would never be in Christ. He lowered himself to our level. From Heaven to Earth. From the clouds to the dirt. From the ruler of all to the slave of all. He made himself, and thus God himself, accessible. Jesus is never looking down on us, for he has placed himself at our level, and lower still. Jesus never approaches us with disdain, only tender gentleness, seeking to carry every burden and every anxiety of our lives on his own back.
Not only was Christ humble, but he also taught us to be humble.
Luke 14:11. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Our humble savior asks his followers to be the same. He asks us to lower ourselves. To reduce our rank. To be the slave of all. To be accessible. Gentle. Caring. Compassionate. Kind. To consider others, not seeking our own way. Why? Because we know that this humility before God and others is actually what brings about our exaltation by God. Humility is how we regain our humanity.
The Greeks despised humility because they feared the lowering of man. Man was the measure of all things, therefore, to lower yourself was to lower mankind. And this was simply not acceptable.
But Jesus shows us that it is actually only when we lower ourselves that we are exalted. For a man to be great he must be least. For a woman to be first she must be last. For humanity to be exalted it must be humbled under the mighty hand of God.
Jesus didn’t just model and teach humility in his day to day living and serving of others. Ultimately he expressed the humility of 1 Peter 5:6-7 at the cross. His humble heart drove him lower and lower. All for us. On the cross, he died a slave’s death. For us he was classified as less than human. For us he was so tortured beyond human recognition. For us he entered our sin and shame. For us he was cursed on the tree. For us he became sin. For us he despised the shame. For us he was God-forsaken.
For us he humbled himself under God’s mighty hand trusting that at the proper time he would be exalted in resurrection life. All so that you and I might also be exalted with him.
In faithfulness, he cast all his anxieties on God, marching courageously to the cross, and committing his soul to the Father even while hanging on that cursed tree. Knowing that God cared for him beyond the cross. Thus allowing us to cast all our anxieties on our heavenly Father, knowing that he cares for us just as he cares for Jesus.
Christ humbled himself to the point of a sin tortured, shameful death on the cross for us, so that we might be forgiven of all sin and cleansed of all shame and be found in Christ, exalted forever.
And now the Christ in us asks us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand in the same way. To trust the deliverance of God earned for us by Jesus. To stop trying to pridefully plan and solve our own way through life, but to cast, and leave, all our cares and concerns at the throne of our Abba. To stop all our self-cleansing, and all our fig leafed shame covering. To live free from the self-centeredness of both superiority and inferiority. And to truly embrace our exaltation in Christ. Our resurrection power found in knowing we are fully and forever loved by God.
“To live is Christ” is exaltation and glory by God but only through our humility and dependence on Christ. May Christ’s humble heart for us humble our own hearts for him.
Where have you seen a lack of humility in your own life?
You in Christ
How does knowing you’re in Christ humble you?
Christ in you
What might Christ’s own humility in you look like today?
Playlist: Humility in Christ