By Jim Olsen
Becoming a Christ follower means beginning a relationship designed to last forever. To help us be more like him, he’s supplied gifts; garments for us to wear. Humility is one such that is at the center of God’s nature; one that is not found in our old sinful nature. Humanity’s lack of humility goes back to the first original sin; pride. Pride is the opposite of humility and it continues to write the history of the human race. The Bible teaches that God opposes the proud, so it’s extremely important that you wear humility every day.
Let’s begin by a review of the pieces of clothing we’ve already studied. In Col 3:12, Paul tells us to cloth ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I’ve discussed the first two in detail in prior weeks. They are available for your further study at htttp://www.inhisversestudies.com
Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
There are four Greek words used for humility, all stemming from a common root word, tapeinos, which means “not rising far from the ground, depressed, brought low with grief, lowly in spirit, in a bad sense, humiliated.” Humility, or bowing down to God’s will is what Jesus is all about. His life’s mission was lowly; he was despised and rejected by men. In this week’s key verse, we are told by Jesus to wear his yoke. Yokes are what ranchers put on their cattle to distribute the work between two or more animals. Symbolically, yokes refer to bondage, a common phrase used about Israel’s time in Egypt under the yoke of slavery. Jesus is introducing a new kind of yoke here, a yoke that will set you free.
Jesus explained that because he was gentle and humble, his yoke was light and easy. Jesus has a yoke that is exactly opposite the heavy yoke of slavery and sin. His yoke is humility. Our former way of life is filled with pride, having thoughts circling through our mind that refuse to acknowledge our need of help, excusing our mistakes, thinking we are better than others.
The good news, you can start wearing Jesus’ yoke of humility, not by working at it, but by wearing it. Read the verse below and pray along with me “Jesus, I’m putting on your yoke of humility, show me what humility means.” Then, quiet yourself and listen. You’ll most likely hear two voices. One voice will immediately remind you of everything wrong you’ve ever done. Another voice will lovingly say “I forgive; I surround you, I’m here to help you.” This voice is from the Lord, for it lines up with the word you are studying right now. There will be time to deal with the wrong things you’ve done; let the Lord lighten your burden first.
Matt 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble (tapeinos) in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy (kind) and My burden is light.”
Jesus taught us how we can live a life of humility: By becoming a little child. In John 3:4, Nicodemus asked the question “can a man enter a mother’s womb a second time to be born?” Jesus was referring to being born of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has the humility of a child. Jesus further strengthened the requirement of becoming like a little child by saying that “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” without becoming like a little child; a child is the best example of human humility.
Apply this idea of becoming a child to your own life. If you are having problems overcoming ‘adult’ sins, the traits you pick up after you matured and became an adult, you may need to spend time some time concentrating on putting on the clothing of humility. You see, often, perfectly pure childhood dreams become wrecked by the reality of adult life. Participating in greed, envy, drugs, alcohol, sexual sins all smother a child-like heart and bring about the pride that destroys our lives. Jesus wants us to change.
Matt 18:3 “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles (tapeinoo) himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.”
The opposite of humility is pride, which is a very serious sin: God opposes the proud. The word for proud in the Greek, hyperephanos, means ‘appearing above others; haughty; arrogant.’ It’s to be shunned and, not surprisingly, is a trait prophesied to abound during the last days. In 2 Tim 3:1 Paul says “in the last days, terrible times shall come.” He goes on to list pride along with people being “lovers of themselves,” “boastful,” along with plenty of other character traits we are told to shun, or a Paul put it “turn away from such as these!”
Rejecting pride means you are in a position to receive grace, charis, in the Greek. It’s the acceptance, wide-open table that God prepares for anyone who receives him. Grace comes from a root word meaning ‘joy,’ and just like a child, when you resist the devil’s attempt to push you into pride, you receive God’s gift of humility, his grace waiting to build you up.
Jam 4:6 “But He gives us more grace. This is why it says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (tapeinos).” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
There is no better way to explain God’s kind of humility than looking at the cross of Christ. It was those fateful days, where a man who was God, who had every right to stay equal with God and not suffer for even a split second, looked beyond his own life, with love toward you and me. After a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with the wind at his sail, Jesus could have done the ‘expected;’ to take his seat in the temple of God, taking the throne that was rightfully his.
But, if Jesus exalted himself, we would have been forever lost. You see, the gates of heaven were closed for mankind when our ancestor, Adam, decided that he could judge better than God, so he ate of the one fruit that was forbidden; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since that time, mankind has been thrust out of God’s kingdom, for all have that Adamic nature; we all sin and fall short of God’s glory.
Throughout his life and especially at the cross, humility and obedience was at the center of Christ’s motivation. He knew that by humbling himself and allowing himself to be crucified, he would bring a huge harvest of people he loves so dearly, giving them eternal life. He knew that being humiliated, by dying a death so horrific, that God would raise him up. At any time during those painful hours, pride could have entered our Lord, he could have stepped down from his humiliation. But, had he done so, we would have been lost forever; eternally lost without hope. Paul explains that, through all this suffering, Jesus had a mindset that is available for us to wear so that we too, can experience the fullness of knowing we’ve helped others.
Phil 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled (tapeinoo) Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. “
Putting on this mind of humility always leads to a fantastic, miraculous conclusion: Resurrection. Notice how Paul continues the thought by using the word ‘therefore.’ God’s way to receiving resurrection power is to grab on to this new mind God has for you; a mind of humility awaiting anyone who believes; anyone who chooses to walk a path of humility.
Phil 2:9 “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Living this humility that Christ has given us means that we can go through anything in life. The exaltation of Christ, when he was seated at the right hand of God is not exclusive to Christ himself. Jesus died and was resurrected so that all believers can spend eternity with him. But not just eternity; Paul said that we, right now are “seated with Christ in heavenly places” (Eph 2:6). This means that whether you are living humbly or abounding, no matter the situation, God gives you strength to go through life, strong, powerful and courageous. Make it your goal to put on his humility every day.
Phil 4:12 “I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Definitions are from InHisVerse Bible (IHV) - www.InHisVerse.com.
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Bible Quotations From: The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB (BereanBible.com). Copyright ©2016, 2019 by Bible Hub. Unless Otherwise Noted.