How do you gauge your humility level without becoming prideful? Is it possible to notice the growth of humility in your life and yet not become boastful? Can you be proud of your humility? Or is there such a thing as humble pride? Such an oxymoron, right? Sort of like jumbo shrimp, huh?
The wise King Solomon stated, “Humility is the fear of the Lord; it’s wages are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Scripture is instructing us here that humility can be recognized by a growing honor and respect for God. Changes in your relationship with God will impact your habits and relationships with others when it comes to humility and pride.
Today is the season of Passover on the Jewish calendar and Maundy Thursday on the Christian calendar. Both emphasize humility. The Matzah used in Jewish Passover celebrations is sometimes called the “bread of humility,” because it is unleavened with no yeast to make it rise and fluff up. Maundy Thursday commemorates Christ celebrating Passover by breaking bread with his closest followers in what we now commonly call the Last Supper.
However, the most powerful part of that final Passover dinner which Jesus shared with his disciples before his death on the cross is told in John 13:1-5. “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (NIV)
That’s radical behavior in 1st century mid-eastern culture. It must have been a confusing and convicting moment for those disciples. It shocked them. Foot washing was essential in their dusty environment and it was always assigned to the lowliest servant in the household. Yet in this situation, the most esteemed person in the room voluntarily took on himself the most despised of household jobs. This was an amazing demonstration of humility! Jesus practiced His teaching of becoming great by being the servant of all.
Jesus acted out of his confidence in who and whose He was. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up…” At the same time, we read in Luke’s version (see Luke 22:24-30) that the disciples were jockeying for position and prestige at the Passover table. What a contrast. Humble people don’t have an inferiority complex but those with low self-esteem usually give a cocky false impression of who they are on the inside.
So how are you doing with this humility thing? Can you confidently serve the people around you? How will you unexpectedly surprise someone with an act of servanthood? Why not look for an opportunity to bless someone this Holy week with a simple act of service?
And the rest of us would love for you to have just enough pride in your act of humility to share your story in the comment section below. Thanks!