Godly manhood, or true manhood is without a doubt expressed perfectly through Christ Himself. In this post we will observe examples of His humility and question if we properly express humility through our actions. We will also discuss the benefits of humility for our spiritual struggles. Humility is an act of submission, of elevating others, and of letting go of our own glory, benefit, ambition and pride for the sake of another’s. It is entwined with the life of Christ and is expressed by Him in the very act of His existence as God/Man on earth. “He being God took the form of a servant” is a good summation of this. Going through each step of His life, we will see His humility constantly displayed.
At His birth He (Christ) chose no pomp or grandeur, but a manger, not a palace, to be born in. He was weak as a human, having to be taken care of and brought up as a child. He progressed in life just as we do, despite constantly having the full capacity to exercise His authority as God. He also humbled himself in baptism to be baptized by a man. God Himself, allowed His head to be under the hand of a man, His own creation, during baptism! It continues, He who owns all of existence, found no place on the earth to lay His head. He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey and washed the feet of the disciples, including Judas who betrayed Him.
Christ obeyed the will of His Father perfectly even to the point of death. When approached by the mob that was to arrest Him, He did not fight back. Asked if He was Jesus by the arresting soldiers His reply, “I am,” brought the soldiers to the ground because of His true authority, yet He silently submitted to being arrested by them. Even the soldier who came to arrest Him, He, in love, healed of the wound inflicted by Peter’s sword. No defense was made for Him before the high priest, He did not even attest His innocence. He accepted being spat upon and being publicly rejected by the nation He had revealed Himself as God to. He did not defend Himself before Pilate nor did He complain about the cross, He accepted the scourge of the soldiers and during crucifiction forgave His murderers! All of this can be condensed to: Christ willfully set aside His power and authority and humbled Himself to the level of His own creation to save it from itself. In other words, He performed an act of submission, to elevate our nature through union with Him while setting aside glory, self-preservation, and pride for the sake of another – this is the direct definition of humility. It is humility at a level that we can scarcely even begin to comprehend… the Infinite willfully acted in a finite manner?
Which one of us would stoop down to wash the feet of our friends? Give away what is rightfully our honor to elevate another? Being innocent, accept mocking to protect someone else? Cheerfully put aside our rightful authority and bring ourselves down to the level of a subordinate? Maybe all of that is too much? How about gladly accept just the input of another person’s ideas, or the advice of their experience? These things are difficult to do because our inner pride (maybe our manly pride) wholly rejects them; we often have a force in us, almost screaming about our primacy. At those moments of pride it is good to remember that God describes Himself as “gentle and lowly in heart”. Despite our feelings, it is clear from the example of Christ that this type of humility is what we as Christians and godly men are called to express.
One can question why Christ acted in this way. Are there benefits to us disregarding our pride through humility? It is true that humility is part of God’s nature because He is love, but in terms of benefit to humanity as a whole, there is more. A purpose of the incarnation was to remove from us the death that is through sin. The virtue of humility is a remedy to sin and a path to true life. The first sin committed by the devil was the sin of pride. Humility is the inverse, and having it removes pride and thereby removes a main source of sin from our lives. Christ as the example of the perfect man acted out for us the virtue of humility, directing us to how a godly man should submit himself in love to others. It is our purpose as Christian men and women to emulate this example for the benefit of self and others.