Humility is the way of Christ: Meditation for the 9th Sunday after Trinity
St. Bernard of Clairvaux defined humility as: “A virtue by which a man knowing himself, as he truly is, abases himself. Jesus Christ is the ultimate definition of Humility.” (http://archive.org/details/humility-messages).
In the Collect for the day, we pray God to “give us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, that sharing his humility, we may come to be with Him in His glory.” The “mind” or disposition, or attitude, or procedure, or way of Christ finds expression in what is known, in New Testament theology, as Kenosis (he emptied himself – Phil. 2:7). In the passage, (Phil. 2:3-11), Paul urged the Philippians to be self-effacing. They should adopt the procedure of Christ who by means of humility and self-abasement attained the highest glory:
Have this mind in you, which was yours in Christ Jesus, who being the very nature of God, did not count equality with God something to hold on to, but he emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself and became 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…
All the followers of Christ should follow His way, which simply means developing the quality of humility. Jesus life/example has shown that the way of humility leads to glory. It is the way to the crown via the cross.
Jesus’ Parable/Teaching On Humility – The Gospel For The Day (Matt. 18:1-16)
The disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom of God and Jesus replied with a special teaching in which he brought a little child in their midst and categorically declares that it is he who humbles himself like the little child who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He charged them to change and become like little children if they would even enter the kingdom of God. Anything that can bar one from the kingdom of God should be decisively dealt with, and arrogance is one main such thing.
Many positions, such as chief executives, top government officials and politicians, parents, pastors, leaders, power brokers, intellectual and social giants, the rich, etc.; are considered exalted and privileged, at least, above and more than some others. Many, therefore, look down on the others who are apparently less privileged, thinking that by virtue of their high positions, they are the distinguished and great ones. But the truly great ones are the considered “lowly” ones because every position is actually meant to serve them. Every position is by the grace of God and the service of others. No one should, therefore, think himself more highly than he should (Rom. 12:3). It is evil, ungodly and most unchristian to be puffed up and treat others, as if they are less human. This is one reason many, including pastors, will not make heaven.
To be a Christian is to be like Christ Who did not allow His exalted person and position to reflect in His attitude and relationship with others whom He literally served to the point of giving up Himself. He neither sought to be recognised nor served. That is humility; the way of Christ; the way to heaven. As Paul also exemplified, all “gains” should be considered “loss” for Christ (Phil. 3:4-8).
What Humility Is Not
As we round off, it needs be said that humility does not mean timidity and inferiority complex or lack of self-worth (2Cor. 10: 12-13; 1Tim. 4:11-14; 2Tim. 1:6-8; Tit. 2:15). While we must not think ourself more highly than we should, so we should also not do so more lowly than we are. We should, also like Jesus, know whom we are and endeavour to live up to the demands of our person, office and mission (Luke 4: 16-21, Matt. 16:13-17 cf John 1:19-23). It is a failure, not humility, to derail or be intimidated from accomplishing your mission.
Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector,
Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.