In my morning Bible study with the residents on Matthew 18, I asked them to answer the two questions Jesus is asked by His disciples. The first question is, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” The second is found in verse 21 and asked by Peter, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” I hoped to discuss both of these questions from Matthew 18 in one class, but Jesus’ answer to the first so consumed me that I took the whole class to discuss it ,and the first part of the next class and still cannot stop thinking about it. His answer is simple yet profoundly overwhelming, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
We are all familiar with humility, but how often have we chosen it? The Bible always calls us to the choice of humbling ourselves, yet our familiarity with humility comes more from a forced experience by Humility’s bullying big brother, Humiliation. We all know the experience of finding ourselves forced face first in the mud crying uncle because of some unforeseen or uncontrollable consequence of life. That’s humiliation not humility. Humility is a will full choice.
As I reflect on my life, I’m not sure I have ever chosen humility. But I know Jesus did. In fact all His humility was chosen. (See Philippians 2:5-11) Everything from His lowly birth in a stable to peasant parents to His giving of His life on the cross for our sins. His dying words were, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit,” and He yielded up His spirit. His life was not taken, but given. When has ours been given and not taken? When have we chosen to truly, “Humble Ourselves”? (James 4:10, I Peter 5:6)