Oh Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble


Philippians 2:8

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!


Before going further, let’s take a minute to review our learnings.

Remember, the way of the cross is the long slow, glorious, and often arduous process of moving from /\ to \/.

We are growing up by growing down. The way is descent. The measure of all the fullness of God is found at the cross.

The process leads to the transformation of our default mind, the mind of Adam (/\), into the mind of Jesus Christ (\/).

The only way to find this way is to follow Jesus. This is the way that leads to the truth, which becomes the life. And, sadly, few find it (Matt. 7:14). We are mostly stuck somewhere in between the gift of justification by grace through faith and the grace of sanctification by grace through faith.

The primary reason we are stuck is we do not have the kind of relationships it takes to foment and foster this kind of transformation. We call it “banded discipleship.”

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

The one who was whole made himself broken so that we who are broken could be made whole.

He humbled himself. Humility, remember, is not defined in relation to oneself. Humility is not about self; it is about others. Jesus’ humility was displayed in his obedience to his Father. Jesus did not put himself down; he lifted his Father up. He did not put sinners down; he lifted us up. He descended all the way down to the cross, even to the kingdom of hell, that he might lift the broken human race all the way up to the kingdom of heaven.

Our humility begins when we become obedient to God. As we learn to obey God from a posture of humble love, we will grow humble in our relationships with others.

Why “obedience to death”? The decision of human beings to disobey God effectively makes us obedient to death. Sin means obedience to death. Now, when the one who is without sin is obedient unto death, he destroys death. Death, in essence, is swallowed up by life.

Sin and death are not creative, but they are sophisticated. Consider how the children of Adam and Eve turned on one another out of jealousy. Cain, grasping for his own equality with God, murdered his brother Abel. This quest for dominance and control led through the days of Noah and to complete destruction. It led all the way to the proud tower of Babel. Remember why they built it: “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth'” (Gen. 11:4).

The ultimate marker of ascent: “so that we may make a name for ourselves.” Contrast this with the one who humbled himself:

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the personification of humility. Teach us to walk in his way of obedience, an obedience born of love and trust. We want to be humble, Lord, yet we are filled with pride. Lead us to the cross where we might be emptied of this, for our sake and for your glory. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


  1. What do you think of this connection between obedience and humility? How do you see that they are related?
  2. How are you coming along in your understanding of humility as not being defined in reference to oneself but with respect to others?
  3. What stands in the way of your humbling yourself?


For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

P.S. – You can order a hard copy of this series here.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. I thank you for your clarifying for me a text that I had already come to understand as key to living a disciplined Christian life. I’ve come to believe that we could never have the mind of Christ without the gift of the Holy Spirit within us. But even then, I find myself in a daily struggle against my own flesh. I know that none of us can become what we’ve been called to be without the close fellowship of other committed believers. I believe the current widespread lack of true Christian community (small groups) is the primary reason for the delay of the next great awakening. The “autonomous self “is one of Satan’s greatest tools for suppressing the expansion of the kingdom of God.

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