How to Be Humble, Part 1

Image © Levranii

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, whether you had a big celebration or a quiet day like my family did. If your Christmas was full of fighting and uncomfortable situations, I’m sorry. Remember, though, that Christmas is not about family. Christmas is not about getting or giving gifts. Christmas is really about Jesus.

What do “pride” and “humility” mean?

There is a lot of confusion about pride and humility today. I asked a teenager not too long ago what “humility” meant. He said something like, “Yeah. Humility is when people make fun of you and put you down.” This is a common misunderstanding. The definition the teenager gave is the meaning of “humiliation,” not “humility.”

  • Humiliation – to be made fun of or embarassed
  • Humility – to not think you are better than others

There is also confusion about what “pride” means. The difference between these two definitions is subtle. Let’s see if you can catch what it is.

  • Good Pride – to thank God for the ways He’s gifted you and blessed you
  • Bad Pride – to think you’re better than other people (You’re not better, you’re just different. 1 Corinthians 12)

Still not sure? We’re going to talk more about these differences this week as we look at Philippians 2:1-11. These verses talk a lot about pride and humility. They also look at Jesus, explaining why He was born a baby, grew up, died on the cross, and came back to life again. There is much more to the historical accounts of Christmas and Easter than you might think. When you really begin to see Jesus for who He really is, it changes your whole life. It may even change how you live in 2016.

Let’s get started.

Like something out of a movie

Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Last week’s blog about the Christmas carol “What Child Is This?” explained that Christmas is not about Mary and Joseph, a baby in a manger, angels and shepherds, or wise men with their gifts. Christmas is really about why God became a human in the first place.

The beginning of Philippians 2 seems to fit right into Christmas movies that show families fighting, competing with one another, and trying to be better than someone else. Can you think of a Christmas movie like that? Maybe you can think of a real situation or Christmas you’ve had like that.

In difficult situations, we may feel humiliated rather than humble. We may sometimes wonder of being a Christian is really worth it. Is it really worth it to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else? Is it really worth it to live for Christ every day? Even when things get hard? Is it really worth it to give up everything to do what God wants you to do? Does being a Christ-follower really make that much of a difference?

Guess what? You’re not the only one to have asked these kinds of questions. Look at what God told Paul to write to the Philippians.

How has God treated you?

So does belonging to Christ help you in any way? Does his love comfort you at all? Do you share anything in common because of the Holy Spirit? Has Christ ever been gentle and loving toward you?

Philippians 1:1 (NIRV)

Think about it. How has God treated you? Let’s see.

  • God made you special, just the way He wanted you to be (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • God loves you so much that He thinks of you countless times each day (Psalm 139:17-18).
  • God loves you even when you mess up (Romans 5:8).
  • God sent Jesus to die on the cross to take your punishment for sin and come back to life again (1 Peter 3:18).
  • God sent Jesus so that if you turn from your sin, trust and believe in Jesus, you will live with God forever (Romans 10:9-10).
  • God gives you His Holy Spirit to help you, to pray for you, and to teach you more about God (John 14:15-17, 25-26; 16:5-15).
  • God helps you when you are tempted (want to make the wrong choice–1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • What other things does God do for you?

Wow! That sounds like a lot of reasons to be the good kind of proud. You have value because God made you. God loves you and God has a special plan for you. God died for you. You know you are a person of worth because of these things. You are worthy because of God and what He’s done for you. Praise God!

Now treat others the same way God treats you.

What about other people? Are you better than them? That question sounds like bad pride to me. Let’s see what the Bible says.

If any of these things has happened to you, then agree with one another. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and in the way you think and act. By doing this, you will make my joy complete. Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be humble. Value others more than yourselves. None of you should look out just for your own good. Each of you should also look out for the good of others.

Philippians 1:2-4 (NIRV)

Boy, that sounds the opposite of families fighting and people viciously competing with one another, doing anything to get ahead. It sounds like no one person is better than another person (bad pride). God made each of us, loves each of us, died and rose again for each of us, and has a special plan for each of us. No one person is better than another.

Jesus said the same thing another way.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I mean, how much could God really love us that we should do all of that? Find out later this week as we continue to ask questions about pride and humility, looking at Philippians 2:5-11.

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