Week Three: Be humble

Humility is one of the least understood Christian virtues. We often think of it as “thinking modestly about oneself”. This is true, if we mean thinking modestly about our value compared to the value and importance of others, but not if it is a downplaying of our skills. One day while Ricky Ponting was the captain of the Australian cricket team he was driving home when some boys playing a game of street cricket spotted him and invited him to join them. One would hardly expect the captain of the Australian cricket team to stop and play a game of street cricket with some boys he had never met, but that’s precisely what Ricky Ponting did. He laid aside his plans and made their day by joining in. It would not have been “humility” for Ricky Ponting to pretend that those boys were as good a batsman as he. It was, however, a great act of humility to bless those kids with an experience they would never forget.

John Dickson describes biblical humility as “the noble choice to forego your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself. More simply, you could say the humble person is marked by a willingness to hold power in the service of others.” He captures, very neatly, the biblical sense of the concept.

The Christians at Philippi were told to:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

The apostle Paul then went on to point to Christ as the supreme example of humility; for although He was, in nature, God, He came to us as a servant. Humility for Jesus did not mean denying His divine status or assuring the disciples that they knew more than Him about God. Humility meant He treated us as valuable and worthy of His love and attention.

In the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day people tended to restrict their displays of generosity to those of their own social status or a higher status. Indeed, it was an honour-shame society in which the most valuable asset one had was honour. Humility meant giving away honour to somebody else. Yet the willingness to lower ourselves and exalt others is central to the vision Jesus has for our world. Imagine if you went into your workplace meetings with the goal of advancing the interests of others rather than your own. Or if you determined that you would advance the interests of your spouse and of your children; or if you determined that you would advance the interests of those living in poverty above your own. This is precisely what Jesus did for us and what He calls us to do for others.

Looking for more ways to give yourself generously? It’s not too late to join The 60/40 Challenge – 60 simple actions to end poverty in 40 days. Download the ‘End Poverty’ App now on Google Play and The App Store and register for the challenge!