He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
I’m often amused by the unofficial holidays people come up with. February alone has a Sticky Bun Day, a Sword Swallowers Day, even a Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day! Today has been labeled Be Humble Day. Universally recognized as a virtue, humility is certainly worth celebrating. But interestingly, this hasn’t always been the case.
Humility was considered a weakness, not a virtue, in the ancient world, which prized honor instead. Boasting about one’s achievements was expected, and you sought to raise your status, never lower it. Humility meant inferiority, like a servant to a master. But all this changed, historians say, at Jesus’ crucifixion. There, the One who was “in very nature God” gave up His divine status to become “a servant” and “humbled himself” to die for others (Philippians 2:6–8). Such a praiseworthy act forced humility to be redefined. By the end of the first century, even secular writers were calling humility a virtue because of what Christ had done.
Every time someone is praised for being humble today, the gospel is being subtly preached. For without Jesus, humility wouldn’t be “good,” or a Be Humble Day even thinkable. Christ relinquished His status for us, revealing through all history the humble nature of God.
What would the world be like if humility was still a weakness? In what relationships can you imitate Jesus’ humility today?
I praise You, Jesus, for being the Humble One. And I desire to humble myself to You today as my only fitting response!
One of the great debates in theology surrounds the “kenosis theory.” The word kenosis is derived from the Greek word kenoō, which means “to empty” (see Philippians 2:7, “made himself nothing”). If Jesus “emptied himself” (esv; nasb) to come in human flesh, of what did He empty Himself? Some speculate that He emptied Himself of His divine attributes. However, without divine attributes, He’d cease to be God, and the Bible clearly states that the incarnate Christ was both God and man (v. 6). Many scholars conclude that Jesus didn’t empty Himself of any aspects of deity but rather set aside the privilege of freely exercising those attributes. He depended instead on the Holy Spirit and was guided by the Father’s purposes.