Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
We are in the midst of a series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. In the first two articles in this series, we took an extended look at the compassion and kindness our Lord commands us to wear; today we will unpack the third article of our divine dress code: humility.
Let me begin by making it clear what humility is not: it is not “weakness,” as the world would have us believe; humility is actually one of the greatest of all biblical strengths. Humility was the mark of our Lord –
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death —
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)
Humility was also the mark of arguably the greatest man who lived prior to the time of Christ: Moses, whom God chose to lead His people Israel out of their centuries-long bondage in Egypt. Scripture describes Moses as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).
I think we can all agree that “weakness” is not a word we would use to describe either Moses or Jesus. True humility is reflected in a courage that allows you to occupy a lower place in the eyes of others because you are content to remain totally dependent upon God. Humility is the opposite of pride. It forsakes self-confidence and looks to the source of true, unshakeable confidence: Jesus Christ our Savior. Humble people find their identity in Christ; their meaning in life is derived through expanding the cause of His kingdom; and their greatest joy comes from serving others. They are modeling Christ to the world, He who told us that “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for others” (Mark 10:45).
Humility acknowledges that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Every person, having been made in the image of God, has dignity, value, and worth. When we see life through this biblical lens, we never look down on anyone . . . and when we are not looking down, we rightly are looking up to the One who was humility personified—He who, in one of the greatest acts of humility imaginable, washed the feet of His disciples on the night He was betrayed, a task normally performed by the most lowly slave.
I write all these things, but I will also readily admit that this Christlike humility is extremely difficult for us to develop and even harder to maintain. Our sinful, human flesh clamors to exalt self. We are very much like the enemy who desires to destroy us, who once crowed, “I will raise my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Our flesh is weak, and it is very much a part of our old nature to magnify self and minimize God.
Jonathan Edwards once said, “We must view humility as one of the most essential things that characterizes true Christianity.” One of the best ways to put on the godly garment of humility is to remember that humility is not thinking less of yourself—for you too are made in the image of God—but it is thinking of yourself less. As you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ask Him to give you eyes that look on others with His compassion and kindness, you will develop true biblical humility, and you will model, however imperfectly, the character of Christ.
So . . . on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the greatest demonstration of humility, how would you rate your current level of humility? How would those closest to you rate you? What one change do you need to make in order to enhance your “divine dress code” of humility? This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!