John 13:3-4 (NKJV)
I purchased a book a few years ago called Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. Knowing that it would cause me to come face to face with the ugly pride that I still carry around with me, after purchasing the book I stuffed it into the back of my bookshelf and forgot about it. I think this action probably says more about me than I would like it to. However, recently we did a study of the book of Daniel at church; the issue of pride was touched upon, and I was encouraged to find the book I had buried at the back of the bookshelf.
It has been such a challenging read, but I have really enjoyed it. Humility is one of those things that is so easily misunderstood. In today's society it is seen as a weakness, or even irrelevant in the world we live in, which praises the proud.
However, if we look to the biblical definition of humility, we see that God not only loves humility but also requires it.
God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.
James 4:6 (NIV)
I also appreciated Mahaney's biblical definition of humility:
"Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God's holiness and our sinfulness." (p. 22)
The book has some great quotes from Mahaney and other well-known theologians, plus as you can imagine it is full of scriptures about humility and pride. (I've practically underlined half the book!) Mahaney also gives some great practical advice on how to become more humble.
His best bit of advice, I thought, was to focus on the cross. There is no way I can be prideful when I look at the cross - Jesus the Son of God taking the punishment for my sin - and realise how helpless I am without Him interceding for me.
The book also made me reflect on a passage from John I was reading - the verses I quoted at the start of this post. The scene of Jesus washing the disciples' feet is well known, but I'd never really dwelt on it before. However, it is absolutely incredible when you think about it. The Creator of the universe - the eternal God who spoke the very earth on which we live into existence - lowering Himself to become like one of His creations; living among us; patiently teaching us about the kingdom of heaven; serving us; and ultimately willingly dying for us on a cross to take the punishment for sin that we could not pay. It just blows me away.
And this scene of Jesus, just before He was about to go through all that, kneeling before His disciples and washing their feet. This job was for the lowest of low servants, and given how dusty and dirty the roads were back then, it would not have been a pleasant job. Yet He did it, to show His love for them.
I love Peter's response to the Lord doing this, in John 13:6-9 (NKJV):
Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
Our Lord Jesus is incredible, there is none like Him: both Servant and King. What an amazing God we serve.