Distinctive Humility

Humility is God honouring and manifests the character of Jesus Christ. Few would ever complain at being in the presence of humility, and humility is rarely found complaining or demeaning others. The apostle Paul walked in humility and often as the result of great suffering.

During his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, Paul testified of himself, that serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me (Acts 20:19-23).

There are many lessons here, of which we shall touch upon just a few. If anyone had reason to complain, to take offence, or to carry a grudge, it was Paul. Yet, we don’t read any of those self-entitled responses to the harsh realities of his life of service. Instead, we hear the tones of an open-hearted man humbled by the ugly trials of life and the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. A soft-hearted man who never denied or cowered from trials and used the pains of life to grow Christlikeness instead of resentment. Within Paul, the high cost of following Christ nurtured courageous humility which strengthened his determination to graciously declare Christ through both public and private teaching of the gospel and sound doctrine. Grace enabled humble courage with perseverance.

The inescapable fact that others witnessed in Paul was that he cared more for Christ and others than he did his own comfort and desires. Declaring Christ clearly so that others benefited was his priority. Living the truth and love of Christ with authenticity was the constant motivation in all Paul’s relationships and activities. Ethnic differences were never an issue in the gospel Paul proclaimed as he testified both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He knew that once repentance of sin and faith in Christ as Lord is neglected or removed, the gospel ceases to exist.

Humility before God emboldened Paul’s integrity with passion to teach the gospel of Jesus and to follow His lead. Consequently, he could say that he was constrained by the Spirit, meaning, Paul lived in bonded and surrendered fellowship to the Holy Spirit who directed his desires, his ambitions, and his purposes. This resulted in Paul realising that as he travelled to Rome, even though he didn’t know the micro details of what was ahead, he accepted that there would be imprisonment and afflictions. As the Holy Spirit revealed these certainties, so He also enabled Paul’s resolute and humble walk into the future. Paul mimicked Jesus’ humility in that when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). Neither Jesus or Paul lashed out, they didn’t turn back or stop serving, they didn’t whisper slander or share gossip, they entrusted themselves to God and continued faithfully.

May the Holy Spirit grow our humble dependence upon the Lord for our inner resources to remain faithful to Christ. May we seek to nurture humility like Jesus and Paul for God’s glory and the blessing of others.

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