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Intersection of Life and Faith

Humility Unlocks Love

  • Paul Miller Guest author
  • 2001 20 Jan
Humility Unlocks Love

When we humble ourselves we create a vacuum, which God can step into and fill, rather than trying to manage and control things on our own. Jesus said, "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11). Waiting for God is the hard part.

We need faith to believe that God will take care of us when others don't. That's why we can't love without faith. All Jesus' commands assume that we will trust God. Each one asks us to go out on a limb. For instance, "Give and it will be given to you" (Luke 6:38) requires us to stop trusting in our own resources and wait for God to provide once we've emptied our pockets.

We can't fake humility. It's so foreign to us that it takes the very energy of God. Because Jesus depends on His Father, He doesn't need to depend on His position. When we depend on God, we don't either. Faith frees us to be humble.

When we take the low place, we see clearly. Pride doesn't even notice humility, because humility is so quiet. But down low, you see not only other people better, but also yourself - and God - better. That's why the outcasts of society - children, women, foreigners, the poor and disabled - are attracted to Jesus. They see Him clearly. They know they have nothing to put on the table; they are empty. Drawn by His beauty, they cling to His love.

Jesus is drawn to people who are in the low place. He loves those at the bottom. Why? Because that's where He is. He said, "Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29-30). His first bed was a feeding trough. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors. He talked with Samaritans. He touched lepers. His people rejected Him. He died as a criminal. Jesus' heart was humble.

An alert Jew would recognize that Jesus' description of Himself was how the prophets described what God was like: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit" (Isaiah 57:15). We can feel safe in the low place because God lives there. God is there ahead of us, inviting us to come live with Him, to taste His goodness. The closest thing to the feel of God is to humble yourself, to be concerned not with position, but with people.  Mother Teresa said, "The surest way to be one with God is to accept humiliation."

When Jesus invited people to love, He invites them to the low place.

Ego - the self - gets in the way of love. Almost every religion recognizes this. Buddha solved the problem of self by proposing the annihilation or immersion of the self into "the all." But in getting rid of self-will, Buddhism destroys the self rather than the will.

Jesus' death is a pattern for the destruction of self-will. Just 30 years after Jesus' death, Paul told the church of Philippi, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8).

To go with Jesus to His death is to die with Him, to die to self. Let's go now, and walk with Jesus to the cross.

Excerpted from Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus, copyright 2001 by Paul Miller. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colo., www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.

Paul Miller is director of seeJesus.net, an organization that develops interactive Bible studies for small groups. He is the author of The Person of Jesus, A Study of Love, a guidebook for those who wish to explore Jesus' life. He also teaches seminars that train people to lead the study. Paul and his wife, Jill, have six children and live near Philadelphia.

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