Joy in Humility
Written by Kyle Stillman
The most forgiving people are also the most humble people. This is something I’ve thought for quite a long time. So long, in fact, that I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I’m almost positive it’s not my own. Regardless of its origin though, I believe it to be true. Not least is the fact that my wife Lindsey is the most humble person I know and I’m very thankful for that because it’s her forgiveness that I’ve needed the most over the years.
Everything from house projects left undone after I promised to get to them, to less-than-my-best effort in leading my family with Jesus’ love; I’ve had to ask for a lot of forgiveness; a lot of second, third, and fourth chances to get things right. But every time I’ve come to Lindsey in repentance, I’ve been met with humble forgiveness. Every. Single. Time.
Why? Well, I believe a big reason is that Lindsey does not consider herself better than others. She is able to recognize her own likelihood to fall short and is somehow able to stay her anger and a desire for justice behind a great big wall of forgiveness. In this way, Lindsey has been the most Jesus-like person I know. Why?
Because that’s very much like what that rugged, blood-stained, holy cross. He put aside his right to justice (he had done nothing wrong but nevertheless was being killed), he put aside his right to accuse the truly guilty, and instead forgave. And when Jesus forgave, it wasn’t merely a stay, it was a full pardon. He forgave when forgiveness seemed impossible. He forgave precisely as the injustice was being committed against him. Imagine the humility.
It’s one thing to forgive when time has passed, when your emotions have subsided, or you’ve had a chance to talk through things with a friend. But Jesus forgave in the midst of his greatest anguish. He forgave at the height of the greatest sin ever committed—the murder of a truly righteous man.
How could he forgive such wrong-doing? Some might say that it was because he was God in the fresh and I won’t argue against that. But Hebrews 12:2 says that it was by the “joy set before him” that he “endured the cross, despising its shame.” He found great joy in the fact that his endurance and his forgiveness would set people free. And for this great task, Jesus humbled himself by putting everyone else first.
In his most perfectly human moment, understanding that God’s desire was to forgive, Jesus’ greatest joy was to endure the cross, in order for his obedient humility to make straight the paths of forgiveness.
He became obedient to death that we might become the obedient recipients of life-everlasting in the Kingdom Everlasting. To Jesus be the honor, and the praise, and the right to rule and reign. Amen!
1. Read Philippians 2:1-2
Paul basically says that if the Philippians are like Christ in their humility and unity, they will bring him joy. Why do you think this would have made Paul joyful?
2. Read Philippians 2:3-4
Paul encourages these Christians to humbly think of others and put the needs of others before their own. Recall a time that you’ve done that. What was it like? What was your motivation?
3. Read Philippians 2:5-8
When Paul says, “having this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus,” he’s saying that this mindset, this way of thinking—the way of humility—already belongs to us if we belong to Jesus. If you belong to Jesus then the ability to be humble actually belongs to you, it’s yours. What is currently in the way of you exercising this mindset so that humility becomes a reality for you?
4. Read Philippians 2:9-11 and Hebrews 12:1-2
This truth, that Jesus is the one to whom everyone is now subject because of his joy-driven humility, should hopefully do two things for us. First, it should compel us to worship him for who he is, the true and only King of heaven and earth. Jesus did what only he could do so God could do what only he can do and he therefore showed the world that he is the perfect self-expression of God. Second, it should teach us that it’s not humility that produces joy. In fact it’s the inverse: joy produces humility. It was Jesus’ joy for the prospect of our salvation that caused him to humble himself (as we read in Hebrews 12). For us, it’s nding the joy of our salvation in him alone that will produce humility because it properly reorients our focus on Jesus and his greatness.
5. Do you consider yourself a humble person? Here are a few possible signposts to consider:
I. Are you a forgiving person?
II. Do you put the needs of others before your own? III.Have you put yourself under the authority of others?
PRACTICING THE ART OF JOY
This week, take a few moments to write down some specific areas in which it's for you to put others before yourself.
Maybe you struggle to adjust your schedule for people when they need your help. Or maybe you nd that you’re so busy with your own agenda that you simply don’t have room for others. Next to each of these areas, write a action statement such as “Make time for other people."
Choose one of these things to write down on a small piece of paper that you keep in your pocket this week. It will remind you that the mind of humility is yours because of Jesus. Then pray for the opportunity to exercise humility in this area, praying over yourself the words of Paul in Philippians 1:22, that “if I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me” and the words of David, “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Be willing to pursue the joy that produces a humble servant of the Servant King.