Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
1 Peter 5:6
I think we’ve forgotten what the word “humble” really means. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, humble as a noun means not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive. As a verb it means to destroy the power, independence, and prestige of something.
We see a lot of talk about being “humbled” today in ways that are actually the opposite of the real meaning. Highly recruited high school athletes have weeks dedicated to the selection of their chosen college, ending in a big selection moment with TV cameras and a crowd of people watching. When they talk about it, they say they’re “humbled” to be going to play football at XYZ school. It doesn’t seem like the definition of “destroying power, independence and prestige,” really fits into that use of the word. Actually, it’s almost like it’s the opposite.
We have it backwards. When we’re proud and honored by an achievement or recognition, we say we’re humbled. Most of the time, we’re actually more proud, more haughty, and less humble than before. To be humbled means to lose all pride, all arrogance, and all prestige. You can’t boast one minute and then say you’re humbled the next. Yet we do it all the time. We’ve forgotten what it is to be humble. We have lost the posture of humility.
God wants us to truly be humbled. He gave us a perfect example of humility through Jesus. He was God in human flesh, but he walked the earth as a poor man, constantly rejected and on the run, but always serving others. The one man to have ever actually been worthy of honor and praise refused it, but instead made himself a servant to all. God himself, in human form, allowed himself to be betrayed, mocked, tortured, and killed, so that he could save the sinful people whom he loved. He deserved everything good and honorable, yet he received the opposite, and he did so not scornfully but willingly and purposely. He chose to put himself last, even though he should have been first. That’s humility
When he was humbled to the greatest degree, put to death on a cross, he was finally exalted. He was resurrected from the grave and rose to eternal life with God. He won victory over those who killed him, over death itself, and over sin. He humbled himself before he could be exalted.
We’re no different. If we would be exalted in victory with Christ, then we must also be humbled like Christ. We must see ourselves as servants to all, more important than no one. Then, and only then, may we be exalted with him.
Teach us what it means to be humble. Teach us to see others as more important than ourselves and to treat them accordingly. Thank you for the perfect example of humility in Jesus, and thank you for the salvation that his humility brought to us sinners.
In His Holy Name,