As I spoke with a few friends during our weekly Bible study, I was struck with the challenge of being bold for Christ and acting in humility. In our present times, it appears that humility means making little of oneself while praising others. We see this everywhere: award winners who thank everyone but themselves for their success, teachers who point towards the student’s efforts, or the businessman who says it was just “a good day.”
After all, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This seems like a simple concept: I simply need to watch out for pride, to acknowledge my humanity and recognize that my accomplishments are not mine but have only been made possible through Christ. Then, I point out everyone else who is “doing something worthwhile.”
While this is true to some extent, God asks more of us. It is quite easy to honor the philanthropist who generously gives time and money to the local non-profit or to recognize the impact a teacher has on those in the classroom, but that’s not all the Bible says about what true humility looks like.
In fact, while not drawing attention to oneself is a significant element in practicing Biblical humility, the other key component is redirecting the attention toward God, not on others in our midst. In today’s world, where God has been pushed out of nearly every aspect of our lives, putting the attention on God is an act of bold faith.
It is our goal as Christians to be more like Christ. This means emulating his life. Throughout his ministry, he consistently pointed his followers to God and emphasized his place in the holy trinity as the vehicle for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. He had the power to overthrow nations. He had the power to cast blame, to call us to account, yet he chose to make himself one of us – to experience the world as we do. His reward? To sit at the right hand of the Father for all eternity.
In everything, being used by God was Christ’s purpose. It was a mindfulness, an awareness, and an attitude in which he approached all things. So it should be with us. Our humility should not waver with the moment or apply only when we feel safe to proclaim our Father’s work in our lives. We should do everything as though it is for the Lord. We should make ourselves little so He is made great – being humble so Christ gets the glory – that’s bold.
Later in Philippians, we read that Christ humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Is this how we achieve bold humility, then, to die for Christ? In fact, the key word is “obedient.” Obedience to God is how Christ demonstrated his humility. This is not the world’s view of humility. In the world, to be humble means to give away enough of your wealth, to make little of your achievements, to minimize your light. But our goal should be to maximize the light of Jesus. We need to point the world to what God can do with us and in us – that is being boldly humble or humbly bold. We need to follow God’s call and command on our lives in a way that makes His presence in us unmistakable. The purpose in our humility should be to exalt CHRIST.
Out of fear, we often silence our tongues, and our praise for God goes unspoken. We fear reprisal, judgement, or even termination from our jobs and dissolution of close friendships. Oh, to have the bold humility of Peter. In Acts 4:8-10, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.’ ”
As he faced the Sanhedrin, the ultimate ruling body who made up the highest level of Jewish society, Peter removed focus from them and gave all honor to God. While he did emphasize the healing of the man, His sole purpose was to put Jesus at the center of all. This is Bold Humility: to face the opposition, to face the governing authority and openly uphold another as being stronger, more powerful, and more important. This is the intent and purpose of Bold Humility – that others see the works of Jesus so that they, too, will praise his name. It should be our goal as Jesus-followers to continually point others to Jesus, not to our own works, even if it means making “enemies.”