The small dare not be humble
"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power ... began to wash the disciples' feet ..." (vv.3-5)
Humility is not a cringing, servile attitude -- although, sadly, many Christians seem to view it in this way. Philip Brooks, a great American preacher, once said: "The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is. Stand at your highest, and then look at Christ, then go away and forever be humble."The truly humble are conscious of greatness before they are conscious of humility.
The passage before us today says: "Jesus, with the full knowledge that the Father had put everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from the supper-table, took off his outer clothes, picked up a towel and fastened it round his waist ... and began to wash the disciples' feet" (John 13:3?5, J.B. Phillips). The consciousness of greatness was the secret of our Lord's humility. The small dare not be humble. But Jesus' greatness was rooted in God. Being in God made Him great -- and humble. Great because humble -- humble because great.
A Hindu said to a missionary: "I used to believe in idols but now I don't believe in them at all. I am coming round to believe that I myself am a god." He gave up his idols and made one of himself! When we lose our perspective on God, we lose our perspective on humility. It is as simple as that: no true vision of God -- no true vision of humility.
O God, help me, in my effort to understand humility, always to remember that it springs from a consciousness of greatness. I want my sense of greatness to be rooted in You -- then humility follows as easily as day follows night. Amen.
For Further Study
1. How did Jesus say we show greatness?
2. What was Jesus' testimony