What Does Humility Look Like?

What Does Humility Look Like?

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
–Philippians 2:5

Philippians 2:5-11 is one of the greatest passages in the New Testament. It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for us on the cross. But sometimes we look at these verses only in terms of what they teach us about Jesus, and we forget there’s a practical application to this passage. When Paul wanted to illustrate humility with the best example he knew, he used the life of Jesus Christ to help us live above our circumstances and deal with difficult people.

First of all, Paul said humility means surrendering our rights to meet another’s needs. Paul said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:5-6). The word translated “form” refers to the essence of God. Paul was very clear in saying that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus didn’t appear on the scene for the first time in Bethlehem. Jesus didn’t come into existence when He was formed in Mary’s womb. Jesus Christ existed from eternity past just like God the Father. He is God in the flesh.

Paul said that Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself” (vv. 6-7). Jesus surrendered His rights. Notice that He didn’t empty Himself of being God. Jesus could not give up His deity any more than I could give up being five-foot-nine and having brown eyes. I can’t give it up because it’s who I am. In the same way, Jesus is God. He can’t give up being God. But during His time on earth, He temporarily set aside His rights as God. He let go of the perks and privileges of being God when He came to earth. Think about it: Jesus could have annihilated His enemies with a word. But He didn’t do it. He gave up his rights as God and came to earth in the form of a bond-servant. He emptied Himself. That’s what humility is. Humility means surrendering our rights to meet another person’s needs.

Humility also means submitting our will to God’s will. I admit that I don’t fully understand this passage. If Jesus is God, how He could submit His will to God’s will? There are many questions I will have when I get to heaven, and this is one of them. But I do know this: in the Garden of Gethsemane two thousand years ago, something unusual happened. Jesus knelt in prayer and said, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus asked for another way besides Calvary to take care of your sins and my sins. He did not relish going to the cross. But in the very next breath He prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s will. That’s what humility is. It is submitting our will to God’s will. We say, “Not my will, God, but Your will be done.” Humility is submitting our will to God’s will.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How to Make Your Enemies Love You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.