Jesus says that we should humble ourselves. He says that we should be like little children (who had no status or importance at all in his day). He says that we should be servants of each other. And Jesus doesn’t just say these things once or twice, he says them over and over again.
You can find what Jesus said about these things in the following verses: Matt 18:2-4; Matt 19:14; Matt 20:26-27; Matt 23:11-12; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:14-15; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 9:46-48; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14; Luke 18:17. And Jesus sets the example of humble service himself and explicitly states that he is doing so. (Matt 11:29; Matt 20:28; Matt 21:5; Mark 10:45; John 13:3-15)
Jesus says that we have one teacher and that we are all brothers (Matthew 23:8). The truth is that none of us are better than anyone else. Being humble means acknowledging and affirming this truth.
So what does it mean for us, 21st Century followers of Jesus, to be humble? It means that we have to stop doing things the world’s way. Stop promoting ourselves. Stop pretending, that we are better than the other person. This is obviously not going to be easy in our culture. How can I be humble and still get on in the world? If I am a follower of Jesus I should not be looking to get on in the world. I should be looking to serve in God’s kingdom. There is nothing to fear. God is loving and gracious and will take care of me.
Do not be discouraged. We may have the idea that someone who is humble will not be noticed. I would suggest that, in today’s culture, someone who is genuinely humble will be noticed. In fact they will really stand out. The question is; Am I ready to stand out?
One last thought. A person who is genuinely humble will be a great team player. Employers are always on the lookout for great team players.
Jesus said an extraordinary and wonderful thing “For God, all things are possible.”
For God, all things are possible. Yet we like to think that some things are impossible for God. We like to think that God can only work through people like us. He can only work through our denomination. Or he can only work through the evangelical movement, or the protestant movement, or the catholic church. Or he can only work through people who believe the same doctrines that we do.
For God all things are possible. So it is not impossible that God would be working in other denominations. In fact we should expect God to be working in other denominations. If we read the parable of the lost sheep, or the prodigal son, we learn that God longs for reconciliation with his lost children and actively works to bring that reconciliation about. The shepherd goes out looking for the lost sheep. The father runs to meet his repentant son and hugs him. So is God actively working in all denominations? Of course he is.
The belief that God only works through people like us is a delusion – and a dangerous delusion. It is like a mental illness. In an individual it might be diagnosed as a narcissistic personality disorder – a disorder in which the victim thinks that they are right in all things and that anyone who disagrees with them must be wrong.
Mental illness stops us from being effective. It makes others wary of us. It makes others want to look the other way and pretend that they haven’t seen us. It isolates us. This is the very opposite of what Jesus wants. Jesus tells us that it is by our love for each other that the world will know that we are his disciples. Love for each other cannot mean love that is restricted to people like us. It must mean love for all members of God’s family.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
In this video, I share my thoughts on why people who follow the teachings of Jesus must not criticise other Christians:
Jesus told his apostles to make new disciples and teach them to obey everything he had commanded (Matthew 28:20). These are those commands:
- Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. (Matthew 22:34-38; Mark 12:28-30; Luke 10:25-27)
- Don’t do things because you want to impress other people. Do them because you want to serve God. (Matthew 6:1-18)
- Humble yourselves. (Matthew 18:4; Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14)
- Follow Jesus. Don’t wonder about other people. (John 21:20-22)
- Pray. (Matthew 6:5-14; Luke 11:1-13)
- Don’t worry. God knows what you need. (Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 12:22-32)
- Don’t trust earthly treasures. Trust God. (Matthew 6:19-21; Matthew 6:24; Luke 12:33-34)
- Love your neighbour the same way that you love yourself. (Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37)
- Love each other – it is by your love for each other that the world will know that you are Jesus’ disciples. (John 13:34-35)
- Love your enemies. (Matthew 5: 44; Luke 6:27)
- Pray for those that persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
- Do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
- Bless those that curse you (Luke 6:28)
- Treat others the same way that you like to be treated yourself. (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)
- Serve each other. (Matthew 20:25-28; Mark 10:43-45)
- Don’t judge others. (Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37)
- Do more for others than they ask of you. (Matthew 5:39:42)
- Forgive others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
- Be merciful. (Luke 6:36)
- If someone has done something that upsets or offends you, go and talk to them about it. If they won’t listen to you, take someone else with you and try again. (Matthew 18:16)
- If you know that you have done something to upset or offend someone else – go and talk to them and sort it out. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Don’t take an oath – let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. (Matthew 5:34-37)
- Give to anyone who begs from you. (Luke 6:30)
- Sell your possessions and give to the poor. (Luke 12:33)
- Teach new disciples to obey everything that Jesus commanded his disciples. (Matthew 28:20)