Christmas and Humilty

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What a wonderful time of year! Christmas brings feelings of joy, peace, comfort, but the Apostle Paul thought there was a more important theme of Christmas, and wrote about it in Philippians 2:3-8:

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. (ESV)

When we think of Christmas and Christ’s incarnation, we should be drawn to thoughts about humility. But the world’s definition of humility is not the same as God’s definition of humility. We often get humility wrong. In fact, Dictionary.com offers what I would consider to be an inaccurate definition of humility: “Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience.” That’s not humility. That’s depression!

That’s what’s so beautiful about the birth of Christ as an illustration of humility: Christ did not have feelings of inferiority, but willingly placed the needs of mankind above His own.

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines humility in a way that better illustrates what Jesus did at His birth. Humility is, “A freedom from arrogance that grows out of the recognition that all we have and are comes from God.”

Phillip Brooks put it this way: “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” (Quoted in Burning Out for God, E. Skoglund)

This type of humility is of far greater value to us, because it extends beyond mere feelings of inferiority to a call to raise the value of others, and measure our value against the glory of God.

Can you imagine what would happen if we connected the attitude of humility to our Christmas celebrations with the same fervor as we do joy, cheerfulness, and the like? Imagine how your holiday could be transformed if you chose to live out acts of humility among your family and friends this Christmas. What steps might you take to imitate the Son of God – surrendering your rights and reputation for the good of another, regardless of what you will receive in return?

Expressing and cultivating humility – the genuine kind – can can be an intentional part of our Christmas celebration. Here are three ways I plan to dwell on it in the next few days.

1. I will intentionally seek out others I may bless who are likely not willing or able to bless me in return, reminding me of the grace extended me when Christ came. For example, rather than telling people about our Singing Christmas Tree Presentation at Bannockburn this weekend, I will INVITE them to join me and my family at the Tree. People want connection and acceptance more than they want gifts or information. Connection is harder. It often requires humility.

2. I will take inventory of all the blessings and gifts I have been given, and then offer thanks to God for them. Gratitude is the antidote to false pride. (The 2012 BBC Advent Devotion is a great tool to help with this!)

3. I will ponder the humility extended by the King of All Kings, as He wrapped Himself in flesh out of love for us. How can anyone dwell on such a thought without a recognition of his own desperate need?

This Christmas season, I’m compelled to think that the greatest form of worship of Jesus my King may be to imitate His active humility. Would you join me?

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The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
1 of 48
I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
2 of 48
I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
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It humbles me to think I can know God.
4 of 48
I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
5 of 48
I have a hard time trusting people.
6 of 48
I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
7 of 48
I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
8 of 48
I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
9 of 48
I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
10 of 48
I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
11 of 48
I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
12 of 48
I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
13 of 48
I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
14 of 48
I tend to expect the worst to happen.
15 of 48
My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
16 of 48
I look forward to good things in my future.
17 of 48
The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
18 of 48
I think that God will meet all my needs.
19 of 48
I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
20 of 48
I feel I can turn to God for direction.
21 of 48
I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
22 of 48
When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
23 of 48
I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
24 of 48
I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
25 of 48
When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
26 of 48
It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
27 of 48
When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
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I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
29 of 48
I believe God wants what is best for me.
30 of 48
I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
31 of 48
I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
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When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
33 of 48
I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
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I worry about the problems that the future holds.
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I worry that God is angry with me.
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People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
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I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
38 of 48
I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
39 of 48
I believe truth is the same for everyone.
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I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
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I am amazed at God's power.
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I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
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People would describe me as a giving person.
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I think God cares about the details of my life.
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I believe God is loving and kind.
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I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
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I am grateful for the things I have been given.
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I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
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