A Life of Self-Giving: Cultivating Humility

Read Philippians 2:1-7  If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,  2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,  6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,  7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Who are you following? No, I am not talking about a podcast list, or Instagram or other form of social media. Who are you patterning your life after? A celebrity? Someone rich and famous or renowned for beauty or talent? Who you follow matters, because it shapes your attitudes, your actions and your goals in life.

I made a commitment years ago to follow Jesus. In committing my life to Christ, I declared that he is my Lord. I am a disciple of Jesus—someone who seeks to pattern my life after him.

But there is a problem with that commitment which is well expressed in Philippians 2. I am commanded to have the same mind which was in Christ Jesus who emptied himself and became human for us and for our salvation. None of us is starting out as God, but many of us have a strong sense of our own importance anyway. Seeking the kind of humility and self-giving that exemplified Christ’s life is an important part of following Jesus.

I heard an excellent sermon recently that described humility as something in between arrogance and shame. We are taught to avoid arrogance because we would be thinking too highly of ourselves. We should also avoid giving in to shame, because we are beloved creatures of God for whom Christ died. Instead, humility is all about prioritizing our hearts, minds and actions so that God comes first, others second and ourselves third.

Ash Wednesday is a time for cultivating that sort of humility. We will remind ourselves that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, and that Christ has paid the price for our sins and invites us to follow him in a life of self-giving to God. That act of worship gives us a powerful start to the season of Lent where we practice the disciplines of humility by the grace of God.

Bishop Scott J. Jones currently serves as the resident bishop of the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Houston. https://www.txcumc.org/bishopscorner

Join us on a journey through the lenten season as we share devotionals from around the Texas Annual Conference each week. Please share with your friends: https://www.txcumc.org/springingintoeaster  #SpringingintoEaster

If you would like to share a devotional, please contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communications at smartin@txcumc.org.