Sunday 3rd March

Lent is a good opportunity to reflect on some of the qualities that separate Jesus from other leaders and teachers. Jesus was, amongst other defining qualities, humble. So let’s take a look at the word’ ‘humble’ or ‘humility’.

There’s a 1959 ‘Peanuts’ cartoon in which Linus tells Charlie Brown, “When I get big, I’m going to be a humble little country doctor. I’ll live in the city, and every morning I’ll get up, climb into my sports car, and zoom into the country! Then I’ll start healing people. I’ll heal people for miles around!” In the last frame, he exclaims, “I’ll be a world famous humble little country doctor!”

Charles Schultz, the cartoonist, was poking fun at how difficult it is for us to be humble. We might well start out with the goal of being a humble little ‘whatever’, but before we know it, we want to be a world-famous, humble little ‘whatever’!

Jesus was humble, and God wants us to grow in humility.

Of course, if we think we’ve achieved any measure of humility, we’ve got to be on guard against being proud of our humility!

The Latin word for earth, ground or soil is ‘humus’ – the most ordinary, yet extraordinary, vitally important, ‘down to earth’ thing. The English translation of that Latin word is ‘humble’.

Perhaps we should try to define the word. People who are humble:-

  • are not boastful
  • they think of other people more highly than themselves
  • They put other people first.
  • They seek no great reward

According to the English dictionary, humility is ‘The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. []

Of course, some people live for prestige and status. Some measure their worth by how many friends they have of Facebook or Instagram. Some look for fame, hoping that their Facebook post, or tweet, or video will go viral. Some are on the look-out for a way of aggrandising themselves, making themselves feel important. Some are motivated by the appearance of high status and wealth – no matter the cost.

Of course, being good at what you do is important, excelling at something is good – but boasting and oppressing others because of our ‘prowess’ is not.

Humility, remember ‘is having a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance’.

A dictionary definition is all well and good, but what about a Biblical definition.

Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi saying:  “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” (Philippians 2: 3)

So, we are to elevate, lift up others in our minds as being better than ourselves. We are to see others as more important than ourselves.

Paul continues this thought in the next verse (4) “Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others”.

Of course, we think about our own interests, but we’re also to think about the interests of others.

Humility is lifting others up, and at the same time, lowering yourself.  When we think about our own interests, this is to be in the light of how it relates to others. Like Jesus, we are to see ourselves as a servant to others with their best interest in mind. And, if we all behave like this, we will create a soil, an environment ‘humous’, in which everyone can flourish.

But remember, ‘Humility is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less’ – we must love our neighbour as we love (not loathe) ourselves!

Lord, help us to be honest about ourselves,
and humble in all we do to enable others to flourish.
Shine the light of your love
straight into our hearts       Amen

Revd Janine