For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6
Among the amazing ideas presented in Isaiah 9:6 is the prophetic record that God would do something humble—“For to us a child is born.” Note this child is also “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” yet He accepted the humility of birth.
Humble actions are unexpected. They are counter-intuitive. An act of humility is chosen, not forced or accidental. Someone with the perfect right to act in their own interest decides to act in the exact opposite way for a specific purpose—that’s humility. We don’t see it often enough: the leader who takes on a menial task, the frontrunner who falls back to assist the weak at the back of the pack, and the one considered the greatest who identifies with the least.
God’s humility became evident in history when the child was born and His Son was given. Like all babies, Jesus was vulnerable, helpless, and completely dependent—all descriptive words that don’t fit God. That is unless He chooses to humble Himself infinitely, as He did when He came as a baby born of the Virgin Mary.
God didn't have to be humble. In fact, given our insignificance as creatures and the magnitude of our sin problem, the last thing we would expect from a holy God is humility. To respond with righteous judgment and wipe us out, yes. But on our own we have no right to stand before Him or ask Him to do anything to help us.
And yet, though we were a lost cause, God became the child born to us, giving His Son. Or as Philippians 2:7-8 describes the action, He “made himself nothing, 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.”
Think about the Second Person of the Trinity as a vulnerable newborn. Make sure you properly calculate God’s heart toward you as you consider what He offers. Don’t just think, He’s holy, so He’s angry! He’s ticked that I am so sinful! No, He’s actually heartbroken when you keep hanging onto worthless trinkets that make you restless and miserable. God wants so much to give to you what He sacrificed so greatly and humbly to bring.
Why would God choose to humble Himself and in that way? Because the means reveals the heart—the way He acted toward us shows how He feels about us. God did something so humble we will spend eternity in worship contemplating what He accomplished on our behalf by becoming one of us.
If God can do something humble, shouldn’t we? First, we can humble ourselves before Him in surrender, obedience, and worship. Second, we can echo what we’ve experienced through Jesus by choosing to do something humble that we don’t have to do.
Practice humility. Reach out to someone who has no expectations of receiving anything from you. Has someone stolen from you? Let them keep it. Has someone lied about you? Lovingly speak the truth about them. Has someone used and mistreated you? Jesus said, “Bless those that curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). This is how you prove to be sons and daughters of the Living God.
God was willing to be humble. If you’re His child, you can choose to be humble too.
When was the last time you recognized the tension in yourself between humility and pride? In what situations do you find yourself able to practice humility?
In what ways has God been chipping away at your tendencies toward pride?
Lord, I am awed again to try to grasp what it meant for You to become a child for my sake. I’m stunned that You would cross the distance between us and become one of us that You might offer us the priceless gift of peace and right standing with You. You gave Yourself to us—to me. You humbled Yourself to become the means of my salvation. Receive my continuing thanks today, Lord, for all You have done. In Jesus’ name, amen.