“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him...” ~Acts 8:32b-33a (NRSV).
So, above, is the picture of Jesus, as the gospel is explained to the Eunuch by Philip.
Though the Lord was perfect, he uttered nothing, even when condemned to a sinner’s death. This propounds his perfection. This gives us some clue regarding the centrality of humility within the Saviour’s spiritual DNA.
Humility Is Found In Humiliation
How, really, is anyone to be found humble? Surely it is a quality disbursed by others.
There are many ways that humility can be shown, but if we take it as the opposite of pride we may be close to deciding how it is perfectly manifested.
Extending this further, humility may be best seen in the way we take humiliation.
Humility cannot be ours unless we can be ‘pleasantly’ humbled. Looking unto Jesus, seeing the humiliation in the event of the cross, our darkest, pride-filled, most embarrassing failures can be tolerated, stoically.
Consider, also, Jesus was rent perfect and, still, bore humiliation as divine honour.
The Practice Of Being ‘Pleasantly’ Humiliated
In life, we don’t have to be popular or successful to please our Lord; it makes it easier, at least from external analysis, to be more at ease with states of humiliation. God never makes us perfect, nor blesses pride.
We need to allow God’s Spirit to humble us in the presence of the truth—as others, as a group, will determine it. It’s for our own good as the Lord deals with our pride. None are immune.
We don’t glory in being wrong, per se, as much as we glory in the fact that God is sovereign, just, and right—despite our circumstance. When we approach life this way, God’s will paramount, somehow the power of the Spirit is made known deep within; inexplicably we bear well in the matter of crushing humiliation.
When we comprehend that being wrong isn’t the end, we find the Spirit’s overcoming power suddenly, and paradoxically, within reach. If being wrong, and embarrassments and failures, can’t beat us, we have life to gain and the threat of spiritual death to lose.
And this is the key test of humility:
To be a fool for Christ that others might win—so God is glorified in the issuance of love that gives what’s truly due, willingly, even enthusiastically.
Indeed, such humility may mean it’s actually very difficult to be found embarrassed, shamed, and without anything to say.
The greatest inspiration for humility is Jesus. He who endured such humiliation did so with no justifiable recrimination. Whether we are right or wrong matters little; humiliation, and how we deal with it, is the grandest test of humility.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Photo credit: Tony Verdú Carbó, Humility.