Links Daily Devotional

Little Outshines Big

Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

For 22 years of my adult life, Christmas consisted of one week with my family either at my mom’s house or wherever my sister was living at the time. I loved everything about that one week (and still do), but this year I’m recognizing how emotionally absent I have held the weeks leading up to Christmas morning, the period of preparation known as Advent. Mostly it was my own pride that kept me from fully honoring the Christmas season as an attempt to keep the deep places of my broken heart away from God. This included the disappointments and failures from the year as a professional golfer as well.

This December I have intentionally made choices to be [more] present as the days unfold toward welcoming Emmanuel, who is God with us. I have spent quiet time with God before hopping on the treadmill instead of after, welcomed the requests of two sweet girls to attend their school Christmas programs, decorated my Christmas tree at the invitation of a friend, and kept my eyes open for ways to be more generous with my time and energy.

As I have read different scriptures with Jesus in mind throughout the month, today’s passage seems especially appropriate. The word jumping out to me is humility. Paul described humility as valuing others above yourself, seeing their interests as more important than your own. This doesn’t mean we are to think of ourselves as having less worth than another; rather, we are to take on a posture of lowering ourselves for the purpose of living with a servant’s heart. Often this is hard to do when the busyness of parties, gift buying, and family tensions take over during the holiday season.

The Greek word Paul used for humility gives the idea of lowliness of mind. I went looking for the Hebrew equivalent for humility and to my surprise one does not exist. The idea of humility in the Hebrew language is barakh. It means to praise, to bless, to bend the knee.

While humility means to become smaller, pride is our attempt to make ourselves feel big and places everyone else beneath us for destruction. Ga’on is the Hebrew word translated into pride (Proverbs 16:18) and means to be high, to be tall, or be majestic. The ancient world was all about making oneself big and holding power over people. The Samson narrative in the book of Judges is a perfect example of a man called by God at birth to rule over the Philistines, but he consistently chose to make himself bigger instead of leading from a posture of humility. His pride led to his own destruction and left the Israelites with no leader.

On a cold night in a manger, God shed his glory and put on human skin. He did not come to make himself big. He came with great humility to bend the knee…for his family, for his disciples, for his people, and for us today. He bent his knee every time he showed compassion, when he cooked fish for Peter on the shore of the Sea, through his healings, at the last supper when he washed the feet of his disciples, and as he hung on the cross.

Pride says it’s all about me. Humility is about others. Samson’s life ended in destruction. Jesus’ ended up exalted.

Christmas is close at hand and will pass by quickly. My prayer this week is that we will remain mindful of Jesus’ example of humility and keep our hearts present to the tangible ways where we can bend our knee to those we come across as we travel—with our family and friends, with our co-workers, and with those we meet at the course.

Tracy Hanson
December 23, 2014
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