“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)

One of the most difficult yet one of the most essential Holy Manners to develop is humility. We hear much about boldness and courage. We hear little about humility. To us it seems that boldness and courage go well together, but humility goes with neither. Perhaps the human concepts of boldness and courage easily become self-centered expressions (we like self-dependence) and humility becomes a selfless expression (we are wary of dependence on anything other than self).

It takes enormous boldness and courage to yield to God so completely that you allow God to defend you and determine your behavior. On numerous occasions, Jesus tried to teach the twelve God’s admiration of humility (see Luke 9:46-48; 18:15-17; 22:24-30; Matthew 18:1-6; 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37). Not until Jesus’ death and resurrection did they learn that lesson. Do not be deceived! The lesson is NOT learned easily! To think and behave righteously in the middle of an unrighteous onslaught is hard!

Even those who profess godliness mistake humility for cowardice! Yet, in a parable in Luke 18:9-14, the humble sinner was forgiven, not the man who “dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.”

That is hard for even us Christians to swallow! The person who gave God 10% of everything, who was honest in his dealings with others, who was not controlled by sexual desires, and who fasted insulted God! The penitent man who unquestionably did wicked things was forgiven! Why? Because sinful behavior was unimportant? No! Because God exalts human humility and debases human arrogance!

Paul said if everything you believe about righteousness is true, make me completely happy. How? Do not be self-centered! Be ‘others’ centered! Who was the example of that? None other than Jesus himself!

If I am your brother or sister in Christ because God placed us both there when we were baptized into Christ, Holy Manners demand I consider you and your needs as more important than mine. To arrogantly banish you is just plain rude!

How many problems would be instantly solved in our brotherhood and our congregations if humility reigned and arrogance vanished. Understanding the importance God attaches to humility certainly makes this statement sobering: “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 28 June 2007

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