“He’s the most humble man I’ve ever met.” A seminary classmate said this of a local pastor whom we both knew. I don’t know why, but her compliment always stuck with me.
We all love to be praised and approved by others. And so we covet those qualities that – we think – will produce the accolades we so long to hear. Accomplishments, skill, talent, expertise, popularity, beauty, wit, charm. These are the things people admire; these are the things we pursue.
But whose ambition drives them to pursue humility? Who longs to hear it said of him, “he is the most humble man in the world?” Who aims so low?
Yet my classmate’s admiring words may be the highest praise that can be given to a follower of Christ. Because there is no quality more Jesus-like than humility. The eternal Son of God, who possessed the fullness of divine glory and majesty from all eternity, humbled himself and became a man. He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Humility savors of the fragrance of Christ like nothing else.
Only one in a million has what it takes to be the most accomplished, or the greatest expert, or the most beautiful. No matter what it is, there’s always someone better than us. But in Christ, we all have “the right stuff” for humility. By the grace of God, we can serve others, count others more significant than ourselves, and look after the interests of others (Philipppians 2:3, 4). It’s not a matter of talents or gifts, but humbly seeking to imitate our Savior.
Strive to be the greatest servant of all. Not for the praise of others, but for the praise of Christ. The one who “aims low” has this promise from Jesus: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11)