The Way Up is Down
During this Christmas season, as I sit by my warm fire, sipping on whatever my heart desires, looking at a sparkling tree and a happy family, I think about what this holiday season really means. I have to admit that this year, more than ever, I’ve felt conflicted. I’m thankful that I get to take some time to pause, rest, and reflect on this past year. I especially enjoy spending time with my loved ones, eating holiday treats, buying my granddaughter gifts, and thinking about all that Jesus has done for me. But I also feel grieved that my culture makes this Holiday season about something other than Jesus. As a result, I find myself wanting to just remain at home where I can escape from the distractions, and try to make it more about Him. So as I think of the Christmas story, and the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ humble birth, I am not only reminded of His great love for me but also of humility and how it is the most Christlike attitude we can have!
Humility. It is authentic and gracious unselfishness. It is a choice to value others above yourself. It requires faith. If you think about it, it is not only because of His great love for us, but it was this attitude that brought the Savior down to us. He gave up His glory for us. He did so not only to save us, but to be an example for us. His life was not His own.
Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
We need to think of ourselves the way Christ thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status. Instead when the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and humbly became human. He didn’t claim special privileges. Quite the opposite. He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death. So how do we, who are by nature selfish, even come close to living with this kind of humility? The answer is by choosing, each day to take on the attitude of humility that Christ so perfectly exampled. The more we do, the more natural it becomes!
Putting others above ourselves isn’t being weak or having a poor self image. In fact, it requires a great amount of strength. As we understand our worth and realize our identity in Christ, we can do all things because we are given His strength!
When I surrendered my life to Jesus, it was no longer just about me. It became about the One who saved me. My life was no longer my own. By doing so, I experienced incredible freedom because I knew…I believed…that no matter what happened in my life, God would be with me. He became the source of my strength and inner security. I especially felt this when I had my first baby. I was only 17. I realize now, it was because I chose to walk in humility during this time, that I was able to get through this experience with grace. Because my life was not just my own, it belonged to Jesus, I was able to surrender my shame and fears to Him. I was able to put this baby’s precious life above my own. I believed at the time, that I could not be a mother, so I prayed for help. I had to sacrifice a lot of things, but God provided a way and I chose to give her to another family, one that could provide for her the things that I didn’t think I could. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but by doing so, God honored me. He gave me later a beautiful family and a wonderful life. He even restored our relationship and brought her back into our family 25 years later! God is faithful in working everything out. As we choose to lower ourselves and place others above us, then He in turn lifts us up.
1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” As we surrender our wills, our fears, and all that we know to Him, He comes through for us.
Living with humility can be as small as allowing someone to go ahead of you in line or as big as giving up your hopes and dreams for the benefit of another. Regardless, God will honor you for it. So I challenge you to walk each day with this incredible attitude. It could be the best gift someone receives this Christmas. If nothing else you will definitely discover that “the way up really is down”!