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What True Humility Looks Like

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he says somethings that went all over me afresh the last several days. When my fingers started itching, I knew I need to share what He’s put on my heart, so here we are.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29 states, “God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world ––what is viewed as nothing–– to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence, but it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus.”

That was the first verse that wrecked me. I reread those words twenty times before the meaning hit me right between the eyes. In today’s culture, believers in the Gospel ––in Christ’s death and resurrection, and in creation by God–– are viewed as uneducated and foolish. We are despised and insignificant. In universities across this country, professors declare creationism as complete rubbish and unscientific. I could drone on and on about this fact alone, but that’s not my main point. The point of the above verse is this: Paul is talking about us ––the believers in Christ–– those of us who hold onto Christ and His resurrection as our life blood. We Christians who don’t just read the Word like it’s a good book, but read it because we believe every letter on those Sacred Pages is there because God put them there. We are mocked; our brothers and sisters are persecuted in the worst ways around the globe; our faith is ridiculed; we are cast out as being ignorant; and to all that I say, “Praise God!” If that means we are insignificant here, we have a promise to become something in our forever home, which is far greater and more important than this temporal land where we are merely passing through.  

Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 2:1-3 to note, “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I did not think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” This again gave me pause. Paul studied under one of the most revered teachers in Jerusalem from his thirteenth birthday until he became a Pharisee in his twenties. He was brilliant, and without question he knew the Scriptures well. Moreover, he had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus after death. Are you kidding me? How easy would it have been for him to walk in any synagogue and be like, “Listen, I studied the Scriptures for like twelve hours a day for over a decade, and I saw Jesus in resurrected form even though I wasn’t part of the Twelve, so here’s what I have to say.” Honestly, he probably would’ve used better words than that had he taken that route, but the fact that he took the exact opposite makes me want to weep. 

If Paul approached people in such humility that he didn’t spout off anything other than the story of Christ and His sacrifice for us, how should we approach others? Here’s the difference: people expected Paul to preach to them. Others have no such expectation of us. In fact, people expect the opposite: they look for us to be arrogant and turn our nose up. Seriously, they look for us to say one thing, but act in another way...they eagerly eye us for a hypocrisy that denies our faithfulness. 

1 Corinthians 4:9-10 expresses Paul’s thoughts: “For I think God has displayed us, the apostles, in last place, like men condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!”

Let’s think through this, too. The apostles, who in today’s world are intimately studied and consider blessed by Believers were, at that time, people to ridicule, laugh at, and they were barred from cities after being beaten on the way out. Sound familiar? Now, we are banned from taking our Bibles to school; we can’t have speakers come to college campuses who are Bible-believing folk, and in entire area codes, lawmakers are fighting litigiously to outlaw the Bible entirely from public spaces. History is repeating itself in our generation.

So, what are we to do with that? Act like the apostles, that’s what! If the men who had their feet washed by the Creator of all and the King of the world entered places as servants and didn’t boast about their time with Christ, we should emulate that. Remember what Paul said? “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

But, this is all stuff we know. I’m sure you’re scratching your heads like, “This is nothing new. We know we’re supposed to be humble.” You’re right. We know Jesus came as a humble servant, but He was perfect and without sin. I think this fell over me like I’d never heard it before because I never put my actions next to those who walked with Christ. Here’s what I mean: I know I’m supposed to be humble, but to think those men who started all of this…the very men the prophet spoke of in Isaiah 52:7, claiming, “How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" are also so humble they considered themselves “like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes of their sandals” (1 Corinthians 4:13b). So, who are we? Honestly, think about that. These men are fallible just as we are. If anyone had any right to boast, it was the Twelve plus Paul, but they didn’t. They tried to live as Christ did toward them even though they could’ve been cocky and arrogant. 

Here’s what this boils down to: humility should be our middle name. We should be the first to volunteer to do the things people don’t want to do. We ought to wash the feet of our enemies. We should be radical with our generosity. We should consider ourselves no better than anyone for any reason! If these men could say no to their flesh and live this way, we have no excuses! It’s easy in a world of social media and instant gratification to want people to see you do things or to seek notoriety for accomplishments, but the only opinion we should truly care about is the One Who sits on the throne!   

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