Humility and surrender are two of the most difficult ways to follow Jesus that I encounter daily. The dark side in me resists these unnatural actions, but I was reminded recently that Jesus is the ultimate example, and that He calls us to the same practice in all areas of life. Impractical by the world’s standards, the low road will triumph beyond the here and now. Jesus seems to be saying the same in Luke 18:14 […] For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” These words force me to consider, “Does the tone of my writing and conversation exude humility? I know it often does not and I hope and pray that I grow in this area of humility. Here are two other sources that have recently spoken these thoughts into my heart.
Rob Bell in his book, Velvet Elvis, talks about the passage in Acts 15 where the early Christians had a counsel concerning the early controversy involving Jewish and Gentile converts. In the letter sent out to the church these words are found. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:
that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” He points out the obvious humility in their final decision exemplified by the letter’s choice of language. “It seemed good…” They believed they had made a good decision, but still left some space for the possibility that they were wrong. They held their interpretation lightly. Only beyond the veil of this world’s realities lay ultimate truth about the matter. This tone of humility contrasts with the tendency in Western Christianity to make bold, even dogmatic claims of absolute truth that leave little or no space for other interpretations or reconsiderations.
Even more recently I was privileged to hear John D Martin give a talk on the humility “motif” that pervaded historic Anabaptism. He pointed out the attitude of humility that was apparent in the writings of Mennonites only a generation or two ago. His notes contained this quote from a Herald of Truth article author: “I will endeavor to make a few brief remarks, although unlearned, and unworthy to make the attempt.” The writer believes he has truth to share, but acknowledges from the outset that he is not an unblemished vessel containing ultimate truth. The self-abasement gives space to better interpretations from others, from more life experience and from the Holy Spirit. This attitude of humility allows for grace and love to flow more easily, and ultimately it gives room for Jesus Christ to inhabit the throne of ultimate truth.
In my own writing, speaking and commentary I hope to practice that spirit of humility more fully. I want the maturity of deep, servant-like humility to pervade my speech, body language and attitudes. May we help each other to that end as we endeavor to walk the low road in order to lift Jesus Christ higher.