Summary: It seems in the birth of Christ that God took humility to a whole other level. From the outset, God seems to be saying humility is more than an attitude; it is a way of life. One of the first identities we find in the birth of Christ is ultimate humility
We’re starting a series today called “Born Identity,” where we will consider the identity of the Christ child as he entered the world. Today’s message on humility may be the most difficult message. I’ve had to do a lot of research for this sermon and two of the books I’ve drawn from are, "Humility and How I Attained It" and "The Ten Most Humble People in the World and How I Chose The Other Nine." Humility, it’s hard to grasp and even harder to master. That’s like the pastor who was given an award for humility. A week later, the congregation took the award back because the pastor displayed it in his office! During the days when Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, he was known for saying, "He was the greatest." Humility was never his strong suit. One day, he was on an airplane which was ready to take off and the flight attendant had repeatedly told him to put on his seat belt. He finally told her, "I’m superman and superman don’t need no seatbelt." The flight attendant didn’t hesitate and shot back with, "Superman don’t need no airplane either, now buckle up." Humility is not something we can put on and take off. Humility is more than an attitude; it is a matter of the heart. Sometimes humility comes from within; other times in thrust upon us.
Most of us look at Christmas through a rose-colored lens. I can imagine that first Christmas was more of a “messy” Christmas than a “merry” Christmas. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, was born in a horse stable. Can you just smell the stench? And baby Jesus lay in a cold, hard stone trough. Can’t you feel the cold? Sometimes, we forget the humble circumstances in which Jesus was born. The birth of Christ was more humiliating than exhilarating.
It seems in the birth of Christ that God took humility to a whole other level. From the outset, God seems to be saying humility is more than an attitude; it is a way of life. One of the first identities we find in the birth of Christ is ultimate humility. Jesus, the one who had all power and all knowledge, who had angels singing and praising him every moment, who had every need met as he sat on the throne of God, came to earth stripped of everything to become human. Today’s passage in the book of Luke illustrates to us that Christ not only came to liberate us from the bondage of sin, but Christ came to show us the humility of a servant. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. The coming of the Christ is an invitation for all who participate in God’s plan of salvation to become humble servants for Christ. That started with Mary and Joseph.
So what does that mean to be humble like Christ? Have “the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:2-8 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
As we celebrate this holiday season, God isn’t interested in how many gifts you purchase or how many lights you hang up or the holiday outfits you wear. God is looking for humble hearts to serve him. We find that in the persons of Mary and Joseph. There are several things we discover about a lifestyle of humility from today’s Scripture.
The first is a lifestyle of inconvenience. When you go through life being a humble servant for Christ, you can expect some unexpected things along this journey. Verses 4-5. Even though Mary and Joseph were expecting a child any day now, they had to deal with a lifestyle of inconvenience. They had to travel over 80 miles to register for the census. Now Mary didn’t ride in their Dodge Caravan, she rode a donkey. Their trip is like going from here to Baton Rouge, except that it was hilly and rocky and uncomfortable. But here’s the thing: it’s one thing to be inconvenienced by life itself but quite another to be inconvenienced because you have chosen to participate in God’s work. Most of us believe, if not hope, that when we sign on for the work of God, things will get easier in life, especially when we’re doing his work. Yet the life of Mary and Joseph and even Jesus prove otherwise. When they committed to participate in God’s plan of salvation, they experienced a lifestyle of inconvenience. Things got harder rather than easier.