Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit part 2

Holding Unity Together with Humility


The Spirit unites us together with the bond of peace. The first characteristic of this unity maintaining bond is humility. If we are to hold unity together, we must seek to grow in humility.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility…, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)



For an understanding of humility, there is probably no better place to look than Philippians 2.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Humility is an attitude of the mind that concerns the way we view ourselves in relation to others. It is a lowering of ourselves in our minds eye so that the interests of others take precedence over our own. Humility counts others as more significant than ourselves.

It is not surprising that Paul follows this call to humility with the example of Jesus, for in reality there is no greater demonstration.

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

What greater act of condescension could there possibly be in the universe? The pre-existent Christ was in the form of God. In His own words, He eternally partook of the same glory as the Father (John 17:5). There is no position of higher status and honour. Yet without ceasing to be God, He willingly stepped down out of heaven and veiled His glory by taking the form of a servant. As Jesus said of Himself, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus’ servant-like humility is seen explicitly at the Passover feast where He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed His disciples’ feet.

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:2-5)

This act was absolutely unthinkable to a first century Jew. Foot washing was viewed as a task so menial that it was beneath all but the lowest of servants. This fact is shown by Peter’s incredulous response. “Lord, do you wash my feet?” He couldn’t comprehend his Lord serving him in such a way. “You shall never wash my feet.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

Were the disciples greater than Jesus? No. As Jesus says, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am” (John 13:13). Jesus was their Lord. They were His servants. Yet Jesus purposely condescended to the place of a lowly servant. He intentionally placed them above Himself. This is humility par excellence.

Humility doesn’t have to do with what people actually are, but with what they are counted to be. Jesus was in actuality far greater and more important than His disciples, but in humility He counted them as more significant than Himself. In this regard it is interesting to note how the passage started.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.

This act of humility arose out of Jesus’ knowledge of His own exalted status and authority. He wasn’t acting out of confusion about who He was. He knew He was worthy of all honour and service, and yet despite His status, He ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…’ (Philippians 2:6-7).

In doing this, Jesus says He has given us an example to imitate. As those who have not only seen Jesus’ amazing humility in the Scripture, but have also tasted it as recipients of His vicarious death, how in the world could we be anything other than completely and utterly humble. Let us in humility count others as more significant than ourselves. In so doing we will maintain the unity of the Spirit.


Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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