“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
Helder Camara, a prominent archbishop, once said, “When I am about to go out and face a huge audience which is applauding me and cheering me, I turn to Christ and say to him simply, ‘Lord, this is your triumphal entry into Jerusalem! I am just the little donkey you are riding on.’” Generally, in the midst of our popularity, it is not easy for us to remain humble. This was, however, not the case for Helder Camara and John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple from priestly lineage (Luke 1:5). He was prominent because of his special birth, which had been announced by an angel (Luke 1:13-17), and he would be entrusted with a noble task; the ambassador to the Messiah (Luke 1:15-17, 67-80). His ministry proved successful from the fact that, as the Bible mentions, ‘the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River’ (Mark 1:5). Despite all these, he was not conceited. His ministry was ever-pointing people to Jesus, the Messiah who was to come. “And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’” (Mark 1:7-8). His physical appearance and lifestyle also spoke of his humility (Mark 1:6).
There were many things about John the Baptist that could have driven him to conceit but he understood clearly who he was; he was just a voice of one calling in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Saviour (Mark 1:3).
Jesus has given us the definition of humility. After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He said, “Do as I have done for you” (John 13:1-17). He was not saying that the only way to serve humbly is by washing feet but He was setting His disciples and us an example of how to live and serve humbly. Humility means being on the constant and deliberate look-out for ways to serve. It is accepting the reality that I am, by the grace of God, His container, His expresser and His manifestor in the world. Humility does not mean getting ourselves to think we are no good or to have a low opinion of our talents and character. It is certainly not pretending to be nothing and nobody. That is twisted pride because we might just be hoping that someone will say how humble we are! Humility means not being defensive, not always having the last word and not putting down others to make ourselves appear superior. Humility means turning our eyes away from ourselves and onto God who loves us and even sees us better than we can see ourselves.
How do we value ourselves in our service to God?