As a writer, I’m constantly coming up with big ideas that rarely come to fruition. Give my mind time to wander on a solitary walk or a few minutes in the shower, and I’m spinning out plots for epic novels or children’s book series that get opted for streaming video. But one night I got to thinking about one-word topics for Bible studies. I was struck with the idea of humility and how it’s something that seems so undervalued in today’s culture, yet so at the heart of who I’m called to be in Christ.
With Christmas coming, the two topics seemed to naturally weave together. I mean, imagine that first night when Jesus, made flesh, came into the world.
Animals grunt and coo as Mary sighs, tears of joy and exhaustion mixing with the sweat and dust on her cheeks. Joseph takes rough cloths and bundles a wailing babe whose bright eyes open for the first time to fix on mother and father. Hay crunches too loudly as Mary shifts and speaks softly to her child. The night air mixes with the sharp tang of goat or cow.
It amazed me to think that this was the scene where our God first staged the miracle of salvation. Lowly, not proud or ornate, just a small, dirty place where the light of the world could begin to glow. A place that seems so far from the palace deserved by our king.
It’s this scene that makes me realize how humility connects us to the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. When we seek this gift, at Christmastime and throughout the year, we can approach our Christ in the same way he first approached us.
How Does Humility Bring Us Closer to Jesus?
Humility isn’t a word you see often on Christmas décor. Peace? Check out the throw pillows. Joy? All over the home decor. Flipping through a gift catalog I received earlier this year, I saw a Christmas decoration sign that read: Everyone is an innkeeper deciding whether or not there’s room for Christ. Wow. That pithy little piece of wood spoke to me like a mini sermon.
It takes an act of humility to let Christ in.
Maybe that’s why it’s hard for some people to truly accept Jesus. It’s a mental, physical, and heart posture of worship where we kneel down like the shepherds and foreign kings to adore Him and acknowledge that He is in fact Lord. The good news is, Jesus makes this easy because He lived a life of humility first.
Before Jesus was ever born, the prophets recognized his humility: “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Again, not the kind of entrance you expect to see from the King of Kings.
Jesus showed His humility again and again through His baptism and servant leadership. He let John wash Him in the Jordan. Later, He washed His disciples’ feet to cleanse them before His crucifixion, as if preparing for the act that cleansed all humanity (if only we allow Jesus to do the humble work of wiping our dirty souls clean).
When you frame Christmas from the perspective of how God chose such a humble introduction for His only son, you find peace in knowing an approachable savior who “didn’t count equality with God something to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6).
How Does Humility Bring Us Closer to Each Other?
The season of Christmas gives us an opportunity to practice humility. We’re out buying gifts for others, extending hospitality by hosting cookie-filled celebrations, or generously donating to charities. In this time of year, it seems easier to put others before ourselves as Philippians 2:3 admonishes us.
I know that so often I have to work harder to grasp this kind of living for others after the tree goes down. But humility is such an important element of a life devoted to following Christ that the Bible tells us the direct reward of humble behavior. James 4:10 tells us to “humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6 renews the idea, promising God will lift us up.
Putting others first is how Jesus connected with the 12 and with the 5,000. Like Jesus, maybe we can practically consider others better than ourselves when we show up to serve as a leader in Grace kids, or offer to host small group one week (even when the thought of cleaning up your family’s mess stresses you out).
Jesus’ example of humility began with His birth in a stable. If this trait is important enough to characterize His entrance into our world, then maybe showing that same kind of love to others can give us more glimpses of “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Humility. This one word is so deeply rooted in the advent of Christ, His birth, life, death and resurrection, that it’s worth meditating on as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Maybe it also deserves a sign on the front porch.
Looking for a place to celebrate Advent? We’d love to meet you! Click here to find a Grace campus near you, or to worship with us online every Sunday.