by Mike Ratliff
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:42-44 ESV)
Humility for the Christian is not optional. That is, if a Christian is going to walk before the face of God as one who brings Him glory while growing in Christlikeness and shedding all vestiges of worldliness, then the part of that that is both container and major ingredient of it all is genuine biblical humility. The enemy of humility is pride, which in no way ever can be the basis for godly preaching or teaching or in walking in repentance as a way of life. In fact, those who walk according to the flesh, the proud, are shunned by God for they see themselves as having a form of righteousness outside of His that will be acceptable for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Also, the true servants of God cannot be so or serve Him from any basis other than humility.
As we saw in Biblical Humility What It Is And What It Is Not, genuine humility is not what the world says it is, but what God says it is, which is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. In Mark 10:32-45 we also learn that humility is the only pathway to greatness in the eyes of God.
And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:32-45 ESV)
Our Lord is explaining to His disciples about His quickly approaching crucifixion. These men prove that they do not get the real purpose of our Lord’s incarnation, sinlessness, torture, death and resurrection. They are still leaning toward the Jewish mindset that the Messiah was to come and create an earthly kingdom and they were to be major players in it. James and John, part of the inner circle, ask to be exalted in the Kingdom. Then Jesus reveals the true nature the Kingdom of God and those who within it exhibit true greatness. Notice also that just like Peter professing that he would never deny Jesus, James and John profess that they were able in and of themselves to drink from the same cup of which our Lord was about to partake. He tells that they will indeed drink of the cup and be baptized into the same suffering that marks those who truly follow Him in obedience and humility. Then after the other disciples express resentment towards the sons of Thunder, our Lord calls the twelve together to reveal the true nature of those who are truly in the Kingdom of God. Those who are truly great in the Kingdom are slave (δουλος) to all. This word, δουλος, describes a bond slave. This is one who serves others absolutely. In this context, of course, it would be all according to the will of God. His or her service would be according to what is right in His eyes. This is emulating our Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.
When we serve the Lord Jesus as His δουλος, it is on His terms, according to His will. All who live this way will stand out from the ways of the world and the simply religious so much that they will most certainly drink from the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism as the Lord Jesus in that they will suffer with the same suffering that He did. This comes from both the world and from professing Christians who are apostate in one form or another. However, what we must learn from this is that we are to emulate our Lord in His humility, or lowliness of mind, before all and serve them all according to the will of God. We do this by obeying God in all things and serving where He leads.
Humility is a key to what it means to be a Christian. We learn this in the following passages.
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17 ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but 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. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (Philippians 2:3-9 ESV)
The Christian is nothing nor can he or she do anything good in God’s eyes without Jesus as Lord over it all. What can we do or what do we have that did not first come from God? We must grasp this my brethren. I am a Bible teacher because God has gifted me this way. There is no way I can do this outside of His grace and leading. I can only prosper in this as God wills. I can try to go my own way, but outside of grace it is going nowhere according to the Kingdom. It may very well prosper in the world’s eyes or in the eyes of the apostate, but not where it counts. I receive quite a number of derogatory comments and emails about some of these posts, but as I examine them I have learned to pray for guidance and wisdom in how I deal with them. There is part of me that wants to deal explicitly with each one to prove that they do not know what they are talking about, et cetera. However, that is not humility in action. That is pride. So, I have learned to not do that, but respond as our Lord did in forgiveness. That does not mean, however, that I will not address the errors later. Our model for all of this is the Lord Jesus. He went to the cross for us, taking our sins upon Himself to redeem us for Himself. How can we live and work within that from any other motivation than humility? Instead, we are to walk and serve upon the foundation of humility just as our Lord did and as the Apostles learned.
Examine yourselves my brethren. What is motivating you in your walk before the face of God each day and how you treat others God has placed in our lives? How do you minister? Examine yourselves my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!