Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Imitate Jesus: Humble in Heart

From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gave priority to making disciples. He explained the essence of discipleship by this wise saying: “The student is not above their teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40 NIV) As Christians our consuming passion should be to become like Jesus, our teacher, and to help others grow in discipleship as well.

              One of the most striking characteristics about Jesus was his humility. Though he had every reason – due to his status and ability – to be prideful, Jesus continually humbled himself and treated others with dignity and respect. It is important to recognize humility does not result from telling lies about yourself, but rather from knowing the truth about yourself, but not using it as a tool to place yourself above others. Jesus never denied his status as the “son of God” yet he was willing to associate with people from all social levels. Jesus was as comfortable in the presence of tax collectors and sinners as with the religious leaders.

            The greatest description of Jesus’ humility was penned by the apostle Paul:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV)

            Jesus refused to use his status and considerable power for personal gain; rather he lived his life for the benefit of others! Humility is what allowed Jesus to take the slur of the religious leaders – “He is the friend of sinners!” – transforming it from a stinging insult to a statement of faithfulness to God. And it is a statement of truth: sinners have never had a better or more loyal friend than Jesus!

            So how does one learn humility? Jesus says it happens like this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-20 NIV) Have you ever noticed that trying to keep your pride fueled is a weary and burdensome task? Those who value their pride above all else can scarcely imagine what rest would feel like, or that listening to Jesus could ever bring peace. But when we actually learn from Jesus to be gentle and humble in heart, we also learn that we have God’s favor, not because of our efforts, but because he loves the people he created. And living in the security of God’s favor frees us from pride and allows us to love and serve others. Humility is the key to an easy yoke and light burdens. Jesus knew that and he wants you to know it, too.

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