Humility is a struggle common to man. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we never finish off the monster sin that is pride. Pride really is the foundation of all sin. In Genesis 3 the Fall occurs. Sure, the serpent (Satan) deceived Adam and Eve to sin. But the underlying fact of the Fall is that Satan did not force Adam and Eve to sin. Instead he appealed to their fleshly nature in that they were promised something that deep down they longed for: to be like God. This is the essence of pride. We want to be God. We know better than God. Many would never admit this but that is the sad truth of our natural disposition. Thankfully, God has chosen to give some a new heart in the place of our hearts of stone (Ezk 11). Now we are free from being utterly dominated by sin, but it is still a part of us that we must continue to mortify.
Humility is key in entering the kingdom of Heaven. Is that not scary? Jesus himself speaks dozens of times about the necessity of a humble heart to be saved. Even Isaiah saw the folly of Israel’s heart, exhorting them again and again to humble themselves before God. Humility is also a big deal to Paul. Paul renounced all he ever had or had ever done. I am sure Paul, being a fallen human being himself, still struggled with pride. It is hard to blame him. He had accomplished so much and yet he counted it all nothing in comparison to knowing the Risen savior. His “thorn in his flesh” may have served to keep him low. Regardless, he knew himself as nothing as compared to Christ. In fact, Christ is our model when it comes to humility.
Today in class we were discussing humility. Towards the end the lecture we all opened God’s Word to Philippians 2. This passage is the perfect picture of the scandal of the incarnation. God, the creator and ruler of all, condescends in the form of the God-man Jesus to seek and save the loss by his person and work. This culminates in death on a cross, something that would be a sign of weakness to the world. But God conquered death and sin through the “foolishness” of the cross and proved to the world who God is! God is powerful in human weakness. So, true God is the perfect example of humility. But our professor used this passage as an apologetic against the Reformed view of God being totally devoted to Himself first. He even went as far to say that if God wanted everything for Himself, then he resembled the god of Islam not the God of the Bible. What a claim! What our professor failed to see was the intention of Christ’s humility and what the intent of our humility should be.
Our humility is to exalt the glory of God. The professor had thought he had uncovered some exegetical gem to finally finish off all of us Piper fanboys but then did a horrible job with the rest of the text. Verses 1-8 explains the humility of Christ. But why did he do all that? Why did Jesus do what he did? Surely it was for us. We are so faithful (Ro 3) and valuable in and of ourselves (Deut 7). No! God did all of this for the praise of His glory! This is what verses 9-11 say. Jesus was brought low to be exalted in His death and ressurection. He now rules and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord of all. And finally verse 11 finishes: “…to the glory of God the Father.” Humility leads to the exaltation of the name of Jesus.
And so how do we follow Jesus in His humility? Surely, we cannot do what he did. In fact Jesus had to do what he did in order for us to be reconciled to Him. The goal of our humility is not for us to glorified, but for people to see our Father in heaven and give thanks to Him. So God did show great humility in Jesus. But make no mistake, the end goal of His humility was to point every single thing to the glory of God. We can never be humble enough to enter the kingdom of God. Let us turn and trust that Christ has fulfilled this commandment fully; for both our joy and salvation, and to the praise of His glory.
Soli deo Gloria!