Clothe Yourselves With Humility Toward One Another
In one of his letters, Augustine recalls an anecdote where a famous orator was asked for his top three principles for eloquent public speaking, and for all three he gave the same answer (“Delivery!”). Riffing off of this, Augustine says that on the path to Christian maturity, “the first part is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility.” This month, we are going to examine four more “one another” passages from the New Testament, this time focusing on the theme “Living With Humility.”
Recently, a dear friend who is a skilled gardener visited from out of town and offered to help us with some landscaping-related tasks while she was staying with us. To prepare for this, she had packed her yard-working clothes, and one morning she put on those clothes and went outside and starting doing all kinds of things around our yard that we either didn’t have the knowledge to do properly or hadn’t had the bandwidth to work on so far this spring. She didn’t just talk about helping; she intentionally brought and then put on the clothing she would need to do the actual work of helping. Wearing those yard-working clothes demonstrated that she had not come to our house to be served, but to serve.
1 Peter 5:5b says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Peter uses the imagery of humility as an outfit that we are to put on—to run our feet through the pantlegs, our arms through the sleeves. You can tell a firefighter, a police officer, a nurse by the clothes they wear. Humility is to be the distinctive clothing of a Christian. Humility is not just an accessory to the Christian life, something you can pick up or put down, bring with you or leave at home, depending on your personal preference that day or the worthiness of the people you’re interacting with. It’s the uniform of a Christian that you are to wear at all times.
The night before the crucifixion, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet—that profound illustration of self-denying servanthood that Jesus wanted to stick in his disciples’ hearts forever. Do you remember how John describes it? It says, “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist” (John 13:4). Jesus literally clothed Himself with humility. And really, this was an illustration of Jesus’ whole mission. In the incarnation, God the Son clothed Himself in our human nature. He clothed Himself with humility. And that’s why the people of Christ are given this uniform and told to put it on: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”
Grace-Based Action Point
The Lord may not be calling you literally to change your clothes to serve others. Then again, that could be exactly what’s needed! When you dive into the work of Christian body life with self-forgetful gusto, there’s no telling what you might find yourself wearing! But whether your way of loving your brothers and sisters requires a change of clothes or not, don’t forget to dress yourself each morning in this spiritual outfit that’s been handed down to you from the Lord Jesus: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”
Yours in Christ,