There is a direct link between freedom and humility, demonstrated by the life of God’s Son. Paul described Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, city dwellers in Eastern Macedonia. Here is what he wrote: (Philippians 2:5-8)
“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!”
Jesus knew the secret of relinquishing power and not holding on to any privileges. Although incarcerated and eventually put to death, his heart remained free because it was His choice to submit to a gruesome death penalty which nailed Him to two wooden beams. Nobody took His life from Him. He voluntarily gave it away.
There’s a huge difference between submitting because we have to, and choosing to submit even if we don’t have to. Gentle giants are that way, giants who could squash a person in a moment’s notice but instead choose to save this person’s life – as in Walt Morey’s story of “Gentle Ben”, featuring an adult bear helping a trapped man who moments ago was hunting him down. The bear didn’t have to help the man, but did so anyway.
Similarly, Jesus didn’t have to become human and go through the anguish of death by torture, but He did. And by doing so He opened the door to freedom. As trapped as we might feel, stuck in fierce self-defense to protect our selfish pride, there is a way out, and it is the way of humility.
Humility got a bad rep through false humility – however, wherever there’s fraud, the original is not very far, so all we need to do is keep looking! We sense false humility when we hear people describe themselves as doormats. That’s no humility, that’s spreading lies about oneself. Nobody is born a doormat, and nobody should become one either. When Jesus was asked who He was, He did not answer: I’m a doormat. He answered (all quotes taken from John’s Gospel):
“I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the good shepherd. I am God’s Son. I am the resurrection and the life.”
As a humble person I know who I am, and nothing can change that – neither life circumstances, nor personal make-overs. I shall always remain the one-of-a-kind original God has crafted and coded into my DNA, and nobody can replace me either. While this may sound outrageous and not at all humble, the same can be said about you. So my uniqueness is not better than yours.
Armed with humility, nobody can take away our dignity because after all, we are who we are! Yoked to the gentle giant, God, we shall remain free, even when the tides are turned against us.