Christmas: The Teacher Of Humility

As a Christian blogger, I feel a different sort of pressure at this time of year than most people feel, especially when other bloggers start writing about Advent and Christmas before I can even digest my Thanksgiving turkey. I scratch my head at my reticence to join their ranks, particularly due to my fascination with the Incarnation. Wouldn’t you think that I’d be chomping at the bit to blog about the wonder of God becoming Man? But honestly, I’m just not interested in writing Christmas themed articles right now.

A lot of the problem comes from knowing that I don’t have anything original to say about the Incarnation. Or at least feeling as if I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the conversation. In my pride, I demand that I come up with a fresh angle on it to dazzle my readers — skillfully displaying both my cultivated talents as a writer (my college professors would be so pleased!) and my grasp of God’s Word.

Did you catch the phrase, “In my pride?” What an ironic attitude to harbor after my pastor, in preaching through Ephesians, recently did an entire sermon on humility! Look at this passage:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. ~~Ephesians 4:11-6 (NASSB95)

My pastor focused his sermon on the first three words of verse 2: “with all humility.”

I think the pivotal point he made was that we can’t make ourselves humble. Instead we learn humility. As I listened to him preach, my mind immediately went to the sort of teaching I’d received most of my Christian life. I’d been subtly taught that the Lord teaches humility by making His followers suffer. Although there may be an element of truth in that perspective, however, one would be correct to counter that many Christians go through tremendous suffering and come out just as proud as ever. Sometimes enduring trials can even increase pride as we congratulate ourselves on how well we endure our hardships.

No, suffering isn’t the primary way that we learn humility, and my pastor didn’t go anywhere near that line of thinking. True to form, he took us to Scripture, showing us Christ’s supreme example of humility.

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. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:3-11 (NASSB95)

Around this time of year, we usually start reading this passage at verse 6, understandably emphasizing Christ’s deity and humanity. Not only does it powerfully describe His Incarnation, but it shares the Gospel succinctly. We rightly marvel at the idea of God becoming Man and dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Getty’s hymn, In Christ Alone, words it, “Fulness of God in helpless Babe.” Verses 6 and 7 thrill us with their depiction of His Incarnation, sending our minds soaring as we feebly try to wrap our brains around God taking on a human body, growing from infancy to manhood.

As glorious as this passage is, ladies (and I agree: it is glorious), it was written to emphasize Christ’s example of humility. Philippians 2:3-11 shows us that Christ laid aside the glory He enjoyed with the Father (John 17:5) in order to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, positioned Himself as a Servant (Mark 10:45) Who would give His life for His elect. His sacrifice accomplished something very real, but it also provided us a solid pattern to follow in our relationships with others.

As Christ gave Himself for us, we can give ourselves for others. Few of us will physically give our lives for someone, but each of us can consider others as more important than ourselves. We can set aside our personal agendas for the sake of our husbands, children, church and friends. Any sacrifice we make pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us, of course, but any sacrifices we make help us learn humility,

This Christmas season, maybe our meditations on Christ’s Incarnation can teach us humility. And as we grow in the humility He teaches us, we can practice it throughout the coming year.

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