I arrived early for my new job and stopped in confusion. On my desk was a massive vase overflowing with stunning, red roses.

Two dozen, I would learn.

As a young and wholly inexperienced new hire, my first thought was the individual I was replacing must have forgotten to take her flowers home from her last day of work.

When testing for the position fresh out of high school, I failed in one of the required areas although, through God’s grace, was able to test extremely well in all others. It was determined the skill I was below standards in was not an essential of the job and I was hired. Although the position description was tweaked and the starting salary increased, it seemed a less than sterling way to begin a career.

Math wasn’t my favorite subject and, ironically, I would be working in support of some of the brightest mathematical minds around.

All to say, there was good reason to be feeling a bit overwhelmed, and the roses posed a problem. How could my predecessor have forgotten them, I wondered?

 I then moved behind the desk and saw the note.

* * *

The flowers, it turned out, were from my former Sunday School teacher and his wife; selected and cut that morning from their rose garden. Cliff worked for one of the engineering divisions in the company I’d joined and wanted to welcome and encourage me on this, my first day of work.

As a volunteer teacher for our church’s youth, I knew Cliff as… well, Cliff. Somewhere along the line I’d picked up on the fact he was a super smart guy with an important job. Although likeable, Cliff’s interactions with others on every day matters occasionally seemed awkward and he struggled to communicate biblical truths in a very interesting way—at least, that was my take.

Here in the workplace, however, I would soon be observing Cliff operating in his sweet spot. He was Dr. Hunter, a brilliant research engineer.

Who stooped to teach Sunday School to only partially attentive young people and go to the trouble of bringing flowers to a slightly rattled, new hire.

I can’t recall much of what Cliff covered in his Sunday morning classes. However, years later, the beautiful humility he demonstrated towards me—the lowest ranking employee—has stuck.

* * *

Cliff appeared comfortable exemplifying the One he sought to teach his students about—Jesus Christ.

* * *

Through God’s mercy and the power of His indwelling Spirit, any of us can live out the encouragement and exhortation of Philippians 2:3-8 which I witnessed in Dr. Hunter:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 Jesus was not humbled by external forces or circumstances. We see in this passage and others that “He humbled Himself…”

Can we fathom this, in light of Who Jesus is?

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authoritiesall things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

* * *

Scripture reveals humility is a God-given virtue we are invited to pursue. And although tough to counterfeit, Satan has managed to do so; packaging and selling to the world non-existent forms of it:

Some refer to it as a principle.

A consideration or benefit for mental health.

A form of self-discipline or self-care.

A way to empower one’s intellect.

A key to success.

A social lubricant.

Or, humility is viewed as:

Self-depreciating.

Indicative of low self-esteem.

A roadblock to advancement.

* * *

These dismal counterfeits are like steaming piles of raw trash compared to the beauty and power of what humility is: The marvelous attribute God willed into being and Himself took on, for our benefit.

* * *

As God in flesh, Jesus possessed all attributes of Almighty God; He was the perfect image and representation of the Father (John 10:30-38; Hebrews 1:3). Clearly, Christ’s emptying of Himself, or “laying aside His glory” to take on the form of man (a bond-servant, at that), did not overshadow His holiness and power. Even His own disciples—who knew Jesus loved them—were at times scared out of their wits by His attributes (Mark 4:41; Matthew 17:6-7).

Yet “He humbled Himself…”

* * *

I think it’s time for us to get back to the reality of what humility is. Perhaps we’re afraid of having the same attitude as Christ and following Him in all things. We might be taken advantage of and labeled as “losers”. Things could get painful.

We may equate humility with an impending train wreck.

When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, however, we see the humility God chose to adorn Himself with did not make Him a “milk toast” or “you can live without boundaries” kind of Savior. Jesus exuded power under control while unfailingly walking this earth in a manner which glorified God the Father. (John 10:18; John 12:49)

And His humble walk did lead Him to the cross—for our benefit and the believer’s eternal well being (Mark 10:45).

That’s beautiful.

* * *

James 4:10 tells us, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” We see God’s response to those who do this, both in the spiritual and physical realm:

Noah faithfully honored God in the midst of ridicule and was literally lifted up above the waters of God’s righteous judgement (see I Peter 3:20; Genesis 7:5-17).  Those who love God and follow His Son in humble obedience will one day be physically raised up in victory (Romans 6:5; I Corinthians 6:14).

* * *

Although I desire to live out Philippians 2:3-8 (living selflessly and having the same attitude as Christ), I share in the Apostle Paul’s lament of not practicing what I would like to do, but instead find myself doing the very things I hate (Romans 7:15).

Yet rather than focus on our shortcomings (which all of us have), our eyes should do this: Turn to the stunning, truth-filled bouquet God has placed on our desks!

Jesus alone, as God in flesh, walked the perfect life and rose from the grave in victory, imputing His righteousness before God into the accounts of all unrighteous sinners who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord.

God’s beautiful humility is ours to share, on display in the sparkling vase of truth and gratitude in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

One Comment

  • Brad says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog. The counterfeits can be so subtle and sometimes substituted for real humility.

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