Jesus warns that being part of God’s people is only for those who reject prideful self-ambition and embrace a posture of humility (Matt 18:1-4). To become a Christian requires humility as we acknowledge our sin against God and our need for a Savior (Rom 10:9-10; John 3:16). And this humility is something we seek to embrace and grow in as we follow Jesus Christ as our lord and Savior. Pride, arrogance, and selfish ambition are antithetical to the Christian life.
Christ himself shows us the beauty of humility. Though he was in very nature God, he took on the form of a servant and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:6-11). The God of the universe came and dwelt among us as a human (John 1:1-18), and we have seen his glory, the glory of his grace and truth (John 1:14).
In Christ we see the humility of God, who stoops down to care for us His Creation. He is involved in the small things of our lives: He hears our mumbled prayers; He enters into our pain and suffering and suffers in our place. Our tears are captured in His bottle (Ps 56:8).
There is an ugliness to pride and selfish ambition. It is ugly for a person to think more highly than they ought to; it is ugly to think the world revolves around us and ought to bow down to our petty demands. It is ugly because God alone deserves all the glory and worship.
All that we have is a gift from God, and recognizing this helps us to see the rightness of humility. A posture of humility lives and thinks as though life is a gift, our strengths are a gift, our time is a gift, our accomplishments are a gift. A posture of a humility recognizes the truth of reality that God is God and we are His creatures.
Jesus’ teaching about the need for humility in his followers’ lives is within a section of teaching about the values of God’s kingdom (Matt 18-20). May God grow us who are Christians in humility and may our churches be marked by it.