The only hope of a decreasing self is an increasing Christ.
(F. B. Meyer)
I am among you as one who serves.
In the gospel of John we have the inner life of our Lord laid open before us. Jesus spoke frequently of his relationship to the Father, of the motives by which he was guided, of his consciousness of the power and Spirit in which he acted. Though the word humble does not occur in scripture, the humility of Christ is clearly revealed. We have already said that this virtue is nothing but the simple consent of the creature to let God be all, the surrender of itself to his working alone. In Jesus we see how both as the Son of God in Heaven and the Son of Man on Earth, he took the place of entire subordination and gave God the Father the honor and glory due him. What he taught so often was true of himself: “He who humbles himself will be exalted,” (Luke 18:14). As it is written, “He humbled himself. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place,” (Philippians 2:8-9).
Listen to the words our Lord speaks of his relationship to the Father and see how consistently he uses the words not and nothing of himself. The not I that Paul uses to express his relationship to Christ, is in the same spirit that Christ speaks of his relationship to the Father.
“The Son can do nothing by himself,” (John 5:19).
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me,” (John 5:30).
“I do not accept praise from men,” (John 5:41).
“For I have come down from Heaven not to do my will,” (John 6:38).
“My teaching is not my own,” (John 7:16).
“I am not here on my own,” (John 7:28).
“I do nothing on my own,” (John 8:28).
“I have not come on my own; but he sent me,” (John 8:42).
“I am not seeking glory for myself,” (John 8:50).
“The words I say to you are not just my own,” (John 14:10).
“These words you hear are not my own,” (John 14:24).
These words of testimony, spoken by the Lord himself, reveal the deepest motivation of his life and work. They show how the Father was able to work his redemption through the Son. They show the state of heart that became him as the Son of the Father. They teach us the essential nature and life of the redemption that Christ accomplished and now communicates to us. It is this: he was nothing that God might be all. He resigned himself to the Father’s will and power that he might work through him. Of his own power, his own will, his own glory, his whole mission with its works and teaching – of all this, he said, I am nothing. I have given myself to the Father to God. God honored his trust and did all for him, and then exalted him to his own right hand in glory. And because Christ humbled himself before God, and God was ever before him, he found it possible to humble himself before men, too, and to be the Servant of all. His humility was simply the surrender of himself to God, to allow him to do in him what he pleased, regardless of what men might say of him or do to him.
It is in this state of mind, in this spirit and disposition, that the redemption of Christ has its virtue and efficacy. It is to bring us to this disposition that we are made partakers of Christ. This is the true self-denial to which our Savior calls us, the acknowledgement that self has nothing good in it, except as an empty vessel for God to fill. Its claim to be or do anything may not for a moment be allowed. It is in this, above and before everything, that the conformity to Jesus consists – the being and doing nothing of ourselves that God may be all in all.
Here we have the nature of true humility. It is because this is not understood or sought after, that our humility is so superficial and weak. We must learn of Jesus, how he is meek and lowly of heart. He teaches us where true humility begins and finds its strength – in the knowledge that it is God who works all-in-all, that our place is to yield to him in perfect resignation and dependence, in full consent to be and to do nothing of ourselves. This is the life Christ came to reveal and to impart – a life to God that came through death to sin and self. If we feel that this life is too high for us and beyond our reach, it must all the more urge us to seek it in him. It is the indwelling Christ who will live this life in us. If we long for it, let us above everything seek the secret of the knowledge of the nature of God, the secret of which every child of God is to be a witness: nothing but a vessel, a channel through which the living God can manifest the riches of his wisdom, power, and goodness. The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.
It was because this humility was not only a temporary sentiment awakened in him when he thought of God but also was the spirit of his whole life, that Jesus was as humble in his relationship with men and women as he was with God. He felt himself to be the Servant of God for those whom God created and loved. As a natural consequence, he counted himself the servant of men and women so that through him God might do his work of love. He never for a moment sought his own honor or asserted his power to vindicate himself. His whole spirit was that of a life yielded to God. When we study the humility of Jesus as the very essence of his redemption, as the blessedness of the life of the Son of God, and as the virtue Jesus gives us if we are to have any part with him, we will begin to comprehend how serious it is to lack humility in our lives.
Are you clothed with humility? Look at your daily life. Ask your friends about it. Begin to praise God that there is opened to you in Jesus a Heavenly humility that you have hardly known and through which a Heavenly blessedness you have never tasted can come.