The Gift of Humility
Jul 9, 2017 - Rev. Dr. Alyce McKenzie
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Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians from prison, which seems to have clarified his priorities. The mind of Christ as one of humility became one of his primary emphases. This humility is not humiliation, or low self-esteem, or a human virtue that you must earn. Instead, humility is a divine gift.
The NRSV translation of verse 5 instructs us to have the same mind as was in Christ – a daunting commandment to try to achieve the perfection of Jesus. However, a better translation is, “Have this mind among yourselves that is yours in Christ Jesus.” Humility is not an impossible human achievement, but an accessible divine gift that we must simply realize.
Jesus offers us a message neither of self-help and success, nor of self-destruction. Instead, Jesus chose to fall to a lower status than he deserved which led to his rise to lordship that rivaled Caesar in Rome. The divine gift of humility can grant us courage and allow us to overcome the divided nature of our church, our politics, and our world.
Instead of seeing “me” as the protagonist of our individual lives, wishing God would be a better supporting actor, we need to realize that God is the protagonist. When we go to our knees in praise of God, we can discover the liberating insight that we don’t have the burden of being the main character in our life story. You and I are being shaped by God into the compassion and courage that we see in Jesus.
Food for Thought:
- Reflect on what it means for you to cultivate a daily practice of going to God on your knees. Seek to implement that practice this week and accept the gift of humility.
- If the mind of Christ is among us, the community of Jesus-people, then we need each other to accept the gift of humility. Reflect on someone for whom you are grateful and show that gratitude through a note and a prayer.
- Just as Jesus fell to a humble status and was raised by God, if you feel like you are in a low and humiliated state, pray for the grace of knowing God will raise you up again.
May you find peace and joy knowing that you do not bear the burden of being the protagonist in your life, and may you grow in compassion and courage because God is at work in you. Amen.