“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited...”
—Philippians 2:5-6 (NRSV)
Impotence is a concept thick with meaning for a man; it qualifies him as comprehensively humiliated. He stands there beaten and all but destroyed. But this man has a predecessor, as we all do. It is God, no less. Jesus, who had no place with humiliation, was humiliated on the cross.
When we are on the road to humility, humiliation is a somewhat necessary speed hump. How we handle such a barrier to movement is our testimony.
Humiliation is not the end, as Jesus showed. But it feels like the end.
As Jesus was resurrected, having been found in perfect humility, we too will experience a kind of resurrection if we can emulate our Saviour’s humility. But we must have faith.
If we cannot be humbled we cannot grow in humility. When our pride or lack of discernment is shown for what it is, and usually graciously, we need to suck in big gulps of humiliation to learn the lesson God invites us to learn.
This is not bad. But it does seem bad. We need to remember: God doesn’t waste a hurt if we won’t.
And this is where faith is involved—to take the risk to accept the humiliation of our pride, especially at the reprise of rebuke. We all make errors of judgment. We all get carried away. Well, the vast majority of us anyway. We all need feedback.
Humiliation reminds us of our humanity; of our brokenness. What a God we have in Jesus that he exemplifies the much desired response to humiliation: humility—to in no way insist that he deserved better. And, of course, he did deserve better. And even if we deserve better, there is much more to be gained from humiliation than a self-serving justice.
We prove we are qualified as humble by how we take our everyday humiliations.
How We Grow In Humility
Again in faith, we grow when we accept the full brunt of embarrassment without needing to run or fight. This is a difficult test that we’re likely to fail at more often than not; at least initially.
We grow when we can realise that God means it for our eventual best when we take a blow and learn whatever we can from it.
This is real strength—to not melt under the heat of humiliation; but instead we wait patiently through the terrible day, for a better, more blessed day is surely coming.
Satan wants to beat us down when we are humiliated. God, on the other hand, wants to raise us as true sons and daughters of Spirit through our humility—that which Jesus mastered on our behalf. Humility, however, is a rocky road. Patience and gentleness with ourselves is our key.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Note: My use of “humiliation” is not intended to refer to the sort of humiliation that comes from being belittled—though we may still feel belittled. My context for humiliation is the standard human response when our pride takes a knock, and not from the humiliation that occurs when we are abused or neglected.