Humility – Class 6 Christian Value
Humility has a central place in Christ’s teaching. It is contrasted with pride, where people ascribe to themselves the honour and glory which is God’s alone. Ultimately, pride seeks to compete with God, whereas humility acknowledges that God is God and that we should live in trusting dependence upon God.
Jesus taught his followers that if they wished to enter the Kingdom of Heaven they must be like children. This is no sentimental picture of children, who are quite capable of arrogance and the desire to see the whole world revolve round them. Jesus is challenging people to become like those who have no legal or social standing, to become like servants. Throughout his teaching, Jesus uses a series of images and examples to encourage his disciples to ‘take the lower place’, or ‘to wash each other’s feet.’
The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation – the Son of God taking human flesh – is presented by Paul as the supreme act of humility in which Christ ‘emptied himself’ and took the form of a slave (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Christian message insists that it is through identifying with Christ’s humble service and sacrifice that we rediscover that other truth about ourselves – that we are sons and daughters of God and made in God’s image.
The Bible makes it clear that God is on the side of the humble and against the proud. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector, Jesus criticises those who are ‘confident in their own righteousness’ (Luke 18:9-14). He contrasts the self-congratulatory prayer of the one with the penitent humility of the other and concludes with the words: ‘Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’
(Extract from Christian Values for Schools website)