Humility is not just an admirable character trait. It is essential in the presentation of the gospel.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:28–29).
The gentle imperative “Come to me” emphasizes an exceptional quality of Jesus: His humility and meekness. This is wonderfully described in Philippians 2:5–11:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus carried out a sequence of humble actions that resulted in our salvation:
1. He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
2. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbledhimself and became obedient to death…even death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted Him. Verse 5 tells us that our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. That means that when we proclaim the gospel of Christ, including how and why He came to die, we should be like Him in humility. The humility of the messenger should match the humility that established the message.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 14:11).
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt. 23:12).
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:1–2).
God exalts those who have humbled themselves. The exalting comes second. If we put self-exaltation first, humiliation is the result. If we exalt ourselves, we are arrogant. We do not look like Jesus to the unsaved.
Here is how Paul humbly identified with people. The reason for this humility was the salvation of as many as possible:
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22).
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