The Power of Humility
The only greatness is the greatness of humility. The only distinction is found in devotion to the service of others” (The Faith I Live By, p. 297).
This is one of my favorite quotes from Ellen White, and one of my favorite verses goes right along: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, NKJV).
I was listening to a sermon by evangelist Randy Skeete on Audioverse recently, in which he explained why the first commandment was first. This message was so simple and yet so profound. The first commandment is first, because if we would never have any gods before us and always make God first, we would automatically be keeping all the other commandments too.
The core of every sin is self. Ellen White writes in Steps to Christ, page 43: “The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.”
It’s all about submission, surrender, and allowing God to live in us, while we die to self.
I have been praying more for this spiritual death lately. In fact, it’s probably the one thing that I have been praying for most, and I can tell you now that God has been working on my heart like never before. It is when you pray for humility that God opens doors for you to be humble, and that’s when your true character is revealed. Will you choose to be a servant or instead, choose to serve self?
As I was praying for more humility, God led me to a message on Audioverse by Melody Mason, which she presented at GYC 2016. In her presentation she quoted Andrew Murray, who writes: “It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: but humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real. The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him… He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God’s presence he has learned to say with Paul, ‘I am nothing.’ He has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not himself, and sought not his own honor, as the spirit of his life” (Humility, pp. 25, 27).
This is humility: when you want others to be preferred over yourself. People might think you are the least of the least, and someone else the creme de la creme. You could be there too by glorifying self, but you choose to be a servant instead. God acknowledges those who seek to glorify Him only. Their time will come. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10, NKJV).
We find the same example in Jesus’ life. Romans 5:10 says that while we were God’s enemies (before we accepted Christ) He died for us. When you look at the crucifixion, it was the priests who shouted: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (John 19:6). Still, Jesus willingly died for the leaders of Israel, His murderers. Those priests are the leaders of the church today. We are all guilty of the cross because He had to die for our sins. We murdered the Son of God. But while we were yet His enemies, His murderers, He died for us, for you and me.
“Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God” (The Desire of Ages, p. 753).
Christ was willing to die for those who murdered Him and were the cause of what He thought was a possible eternal separation from the Father. If He did this, we should be willing to do this too, not just for Jesus whom we love, but for those whom we consider our enemy.
Are we willing to put others first, dying to self, and if necessary, dying a physical death? Even for our enemies? This kind of humility is what we need, so that the Spirit can work through us fully and let the gospel spread like wildfire. This is the power of humility.