Humility leads to gratitude and thankfulness. It’s an attitude we take on that chooses to elevate others above ourselves, and by doing so we follow the example of Christ.
But humility is not the same as being humiliated. Being humble is simply preferring others above yourself. Being humiliated is putting someone else in a position of inferiority. It’s debasing and demeaning. It’s something forced on you from outside yourself. But being humble, is an attitude one takes on oneself. When you are humble you aren’t acknowledging that someone is better than you, just that you’re putting yourself behind and elevating them. You’re preferring them before you.
This is what Jesus did when he washed his disciples feet. This is what he did when he went to the cross. He wasn’t a criminal or had done anything warranting the punishment of the cross. But he went willingly.
In fact this is what he did his whole life. The very fact that the God of the universe took on human flesh was such a stepping down. By coming as a man he elevated man. His very coming was such an act of humility, but he did so much more.
Jesus, who, being in the form of God… made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)
First he humbled himself and became a man, then he served others, then he further humbled himself and took on the death of the cross.
And having a heart of humility he could wash his disciples feet without pretense or for show. He taught them that the greatest should be the least, not in fact (Jesus couldn’t help being the Greatest), but in attitude. He had compassion on others. He used his gifts and callings, not to elevate himself, but to elevate others.
When you have an attitude of humility you are grateful for what you have. Because you don’t feel like you “deserve” something better, you are thankful for what you have.
As Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17 we see an attitude if thankfulness. He was glad to walk with these (sometime thick-headed) disciples. He loved them and was concerned about what would happen to them when he was gone.
As we cultivate an attitude of humility, when we practice the discipline of preferring others, we should find that we become more content with what we have. We are not envious or jealous. We rejoice with those who rejoice. And we are thankful for what we have, looking for ways to bless others.
What are you thankful for that you have to bless others?