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:
“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 in 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! With our spirits voluntarily submitted to the gentle giant, God, we shall remain free, even if the tides are turned against us.
In the book of Ecclesiastes we find the statement (Ecclesiastes 4:12):
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.“
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are as tight as a cord of three strands can be, but this cord got broken when Jesus went through hell and laid His life on the line for all of humanity. The Trinity truly believes that we are worth the unspeakable pain. If the Trinity believes this, so should we.
We are highly valued. So is Jesus’ extraordinary sacrifice. When Jesus was reunited with the Father and became the first to be resurrected from the dead, honors have been heaped upon Him, as voiced in Paul’s letter (Philippians 2:10-11):
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God’s generosity is absolutely amazing! Staying humble, we will live to see His incredible generosity played out in our own backyard – possibly in this life, but certainly in the life to come.
“When the dreams you’re dreaming come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride – but always stay humble and kind!” (Tim McGraw)