Yesterday I had to take my Sunday morning class down a path many of us fear to tread. I dreaded heading down its unfamiliar course, let alone leading my class there as well. With caution and trepidation, plus a little shame that I wasn’t more familiar with this particular route, we ventured into the unknown.
A week earlier, our class had come to a crossroads. One arrow pointed down an appealing looking path with the name of Pride. The other arrow pointed towards a seldom walked, somewhat overgrown path named Humility. As the previous week’s lesson had ended, we had seen Jesus walk down the Humility path, not only by washing the feet of His disciples but by the ultimate humiliation of leaving His position in heaven to come to earth and die on the cross as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. (See last week's blog "So What.") This week’s lesson picked up with us hearing Him say, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15) The instructions were clear: we were to follow Him down this path called Humility.
The first few steps weren’t quite so bad. We could see various acts of service along both sides of the path – watching a friend’s kids, preparing a meal for those without, providing a place to stay for a friend from out of town. As women, further down the road, we saw many scenes along the way of the duties of motherhood, starting with birth itself. From there, the path – overgrown with weeds – became harder to navigate. A few hazy images of those who had submitted to the authority of one over them served to guide us along the way.
As we turned a sharp curve in the road, Jesus’ words echoed in our minds, “You should do as I have done for you.” Jesus didn’t merely serve; He didn’t only submit. He humbled Himself. To humble means to lower in rank or status. To continue down the Humility path, we were going to have to lower ourselves, just as Jesus lowered Himself by leaving heaven and becoming a man. By this point, few had trod this path; it was horribly overgrown. Almost no scenes along the way illustrated true humility for us. As we looked at our own lives, we saw the weeds and brush so overgrown that we couldn’t proceed any further. We pulled out our machete of prayer and the double-edged sword of God’s Word. The weeds tried to block our way down the Humility path; with agonizing swings of prayer and study, we begun to clear our path so we could continue our journey.
We realized towards the end of our time together that we wouldn’t reach the end of this path called Humility on this side of eternity. But when we do reach it, in all the glory and radiance of heaven, Jesus will be standing there, having finished the path ahead of us, with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” followed by, “He who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 25:21, Luke 18:14).
It is a "great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory."