I must confess that I have a propensity toward being a very proud person, which is not a good thing when it comes to standing before God. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6, 1Pe. 5:5) Even more, God testifies that “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Pro. 16:5). Therefore, we are told that “pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Pro. 16:18). If pride is such a damnable thing, how is a man who by nature proud ever to be humbled? How is that someone who is proud can ever receive grace, if God only gives grace to the humble”

Some men have been humbled by providence, that is, God has arranged the events in their life in such a way that they cannot help but acknowledge that they do not have control over it. They understand that life is beyond their control and this produces a sense of humility regarding their circumstances. The question that this raises in my mind however is does such humility reflect a person who has received grace, or is this humility merely a facade or a pretense of what is genuinely called humility?

I am inclined to thing that such a sense of humility is inadequate for several reasons. First, a person who is humbled by the knowledge that life is outside of their control does not necessarily acknowledge that it is in God’s. Rather, they may ascribe the events of their life merely to ‘Chance’, to ‘Luck’, to ‘Fate’ or even to ‘Providence’. None of these however is the true God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture, but rather a god which has been made in their own minds. Second, this sense of humility does not have to recognize the true condition of man. A man may resolve that life is beyond his control and not argue against it, but all the while think that he deserves better. Therefore, even here they continue to place the blame for what happens in their life on God. Their misfortunes are never the result of their sin, but rather the result of bad luck or fate. It is under such persuasions that I fear many people continue to live in state of delusion. Having humbled themselves before a god who is production of their own imaginations and the speculations of their darkened minds, rather than before the true and living God.

So then where should we learn humility? My answer is simply this: “In Christ”. For God has told us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). There can be no true knowledge of what it means to be humble, except that which is learned in Christ. Now here then is humility,

“Having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Php. 2:5-8)

“In Christ Jesus” we see what humility truly is. I might lay it out under three heads for our consideration. First, true humility involves death, particularly death to self. So we see that Christ “emptied Himself”, that is, He denied His own rights and privileges as one who was “in the form of God” and who was “equal with God” and took to Himself also “the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in the appearance as a man”. Now this makes His humbling distinct from our own. For He who was like God became like man, and He who was equal with God also was made equal with men. But His death to self was not only figurative, but literal. For he was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Now this dying was not for his own sake for He was already like God and equal with God, he was always without sin and was under no penalty of death. Yet, in humility He laid down His life of his own desire and out of his own obedience to God.

This then is the second consideration concerning his humbling himself, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” His humility was in a way of obedience to God the Father. His humility was further manifest in His willingness to do only the Fathers will and to speak only what the Father had given him to say. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment i just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 5:30). “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 6:38). This obedience was total and complete as is clear from having strove with sin even to the point of shedding His blood. He would rather obey His Father and suffer the pains of death. Though He sought from His Father way by His obedience might be completed other than the drinking the cup of His wrath, He entrusted Himself to His Father’s care and obeyed until He could say, “It is finished.”

Finally, not only was his humility demonstrated in a way of dying to self and obedience to the Father, but it was done for the sake of others. As previously mentioned, Christ was already God and equal to the Father, yet He chose to empty Himself, to Humble Himself. This then was not for His own sake, but for the sake of His people. First, His obedience was not for Himself for He was already perfect and was in no way in need of righteousness for by His being like God and equal to God, He was in Himself already righteous. So we read, “even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). His obedience was not for Himself, but so that “the many will be made righteous”. His obedience then was for those who would believe in Him and entrust their lives to Him. Second, His death was not for Himself, “even death on a cross”. He did not endure the wrath of God, because He was guilty of any sin or deserving of such a punishment, but rather for us who had sinned against Him and were by nature children of wrath – “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1Jn. 2:2). He was in no way satisfying the wrath of God for His sins for He had none which need to be satisfied for, but rather was making satisfaction for the sins of His people and other their behalf.

So we see that Christ’s humility consisted in His denying (dying) Himself, in His obeying His Father, and in His doing so for the good of others. Here then is true humility seen – hating self, loving God, and loving others.