True Humility Isn’t Self Promotion
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:20, NLT). Jesus tells us that He’s humble and gentle. He wants to teach us and we’ll find rest in it.
Jesus didn’t just claim humility; He lived it. He displayed it in His reaction to His enemies. He could have just wiped them out, but that kind of thinking contradicts who He is. When the Roman soldiers came with their spears and shields to arrest Jesus, He said to them, “Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will not provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Humility doesn’t exert itself to destroy the life of an enemy. The Lord says, “Vengeance is Mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35); it’s never ours. Humility doesn’t act in vengeance.
Jesus’ humility is also seen in His utter opposition to self-promotion. (I’m writing to myself, every preacher, and to anyone who is in the limelight.) One example of this is when one of His disciples finally figured out who He was and, for the first time, confessed it, saying, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You’re the Messiah that we’ve been waiting for, and everything that means” (see Matthew 16:16). I wonder what I would have done if I were in Jesus’ position. I can imagine saying, “’Bout time y’all figured it out!” But that’s not how Jesus handled it. He, in humility and total absence of self-promotion, said, “Let’s just keep it quiet for a while. Don’t tell anybody.”
Scripture tells of us of four other times Jesus instructed people not to tell anybody about Him or make much of Him. The stories vary from miracles of healing to the story found in Luke 8:51–56 when He raised a little girl from the dead. It doesn’t happened every day. The Messiah of the ages doesn’t always end up in your bedroom with your baby. When Jesus spoke life into death, she came alive, and He said, “Don’t tell anybody.” The people there probably thought, “Are You crazy? You could use this for years to come! We could get You a tour bus—a camel bus—and drive everywhere to let everybody know who You are and what You’ve done! Now, Jesus, You’ve got to rethink this.” Jesus said, “No, don’t tell anybody.” That’s humility.
We live in a day where we want to tell everybody anything that could make us look important. We do one thing, one small thing that doesn’t compare with raising a little girl from the dead, and we figure out ways to say it—setting it in Christian-speak, of course. We don’t say things like, “Let me tell you what I did.” We say things like, “I’ve got to share something with you.” Oh good, you’re just sharing your arrogance. That’s different from telling me what you did. Sharing’s a good thing right? Not if it just leads to empty self-promotion.