Freed to live through the death of another.

What Should Motivate Humility?

What Do You Want?

Do you desire joy for yourself? Do you desire glory for yourself? Do you desire your own exaltation? Do you want to be great? Then, believe it or not, humility is your ticket. In fact, you should seek humility more than anybody!

This past Sunday I was blessed with the opportunity to preach at Grace Fellowship Church in Rexdale — the church which planted us almost a year ago now — and I had the challenge of preaching on humility. There is so much to say about a topic like this that I felt that I was barely scraping the surface. One of the places I wanted to go, but simply did not have time, was the whole area of the motivation for humility. I wanted to talk about that because biblical motivation for humility can be so counter-intuitive…

What Did Jesus Want?

In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul holds up Jesus as the paradigm of humility. He alone had equality with God, but didn’t grasp on to it. Instead he was willing to come be mistreated, rejected, despised, beaten, and murdered, bearing the hatred of people and the just wrath of his Father. That is humility. A willingness to subject himself to whatever his Father has for him; he alone models perfect humility and contrition, he alone trembles at the word of his Father (Is 66.1-2).

So if we’re to imitate Jesus it would be helpful to know what motivated Jesus, right? What moved him to go to the cross in all humility?

For one thing, he desired joy (Heb 12.1-2). He also desired glory (John 17.5). He also desired vindication and exaltation, in the view of people (John 17.24). He also wanted to be great (Mark 10.43-45). Not what you would expect to hear, right? And it begs the question…

Should I Want That Too?

The short answer is ‘Absolutely!’ The reason those things seem so wrong for us to desire is because we are so full of sin that we typically associate the desire for those things with whatever means we determine necessary to get joy, glory, exaltation, and greatness. We’re typically so convinced that God doesn’t want us to have those things that we ultimately want that we refuse to trust him to give them to us. We seek them by our own means.

But the essence of the message of Jesus is this: Trust God, he is for you. He will exalt those who are his… in the mean time, stop fretting about what other people think. Stop fighting for position here and now. Entrust yourself to God fully and be content with his providence. He will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you (1 Pet 5.10). He will freely give you all things; nothing is too good for you (Rom 8.31-32)!

So What Should I Do?

So what is the New Testament message on the motivation for humility? Stop fighting for glory and honour here and now in your time and your way; embrace God’s providence, and trust him to exalt you in his time and in his way (1 Pet 5.6-7).

Believe it or not, God wants your joy, vindication, and glory more than you do. He sent his Son to prove it. So stop contending for his supremacy and seek your exaltation through humility and service. He is for you more than you are.

1 Comment

  1. Paul McDonald

    Thanks Julian. This systematic theology on the humility of Christ is not only very insightful, but it makes true humility truly attractive. May the people of the Lord reflect our Lord’s motives for humility.

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