The first time we read about the need for clothing in the Bible is found in Genesis 3:7 after Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree. In response to feeling naked and ashamed, they sewed a bunch of fig leaves together to try and cover their newly discovered inadequacies. Before eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they needed no such covering. They were simply loved by God and oblivious to their nakedness.
However, after they chose to live a life independent from God, things radically changed. In an effort to try and compensate for their new found knowledge, they sewed together counterfeit garments created in their own effort to somehow justify themselves. They exchanged God’s glory for fig leaves and as a result, mankind has been wearing the wrong kind of clothes ever since.
In Colossians 3:12, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. In the verses just prior, Paul tells us that we need to ‘put to death’ and ‘rid ourselves’ of all of the earthly, fleshly desires that we used to walk in before we met Christ. In essence, we are called to throw off the clothes of our own making so that we can be truly covered with the righteousness (right standing with God) that is found in our new life with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21)
As a matter of fact, the clothes that we are called to put on is Christ Himself. In Romans 13:14, Paul writes… Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (NIV) If humility is part of the new garment that we are destined to wear for eternity, then false humility, pride and our own self righteousness are part of our old, ‘filthy rags’ wardrobe (Isaiah 64:6).
The problem is, in some religious circles, humility can be mistaken for a misguided ‘worm theology’. This is where we mix self hatred with a false sense of humility which only ends up being a counterfeit expression of inverted pride. Instead of walking in the true humility that our Father delights in, we end up expressing more of a plastic Christianity that may have the appearance of humility, but not the substance.
No manner of trying to appear humble will make us humble. It is only when we encounter the beautiful humility found in the heart of the Godhead, that we will begin to respond in kind. It is the love of God that will humble us. It is the revelation of the immeasurable price that our Father paid to secure our love (Romans 8:31-32) that will ultimately break us of our own independence. It is only when we begin to see that our value to God has nothing to do with our own human effort, that we will truly reject any value equations that are based on the works of our own hands.
The greatest example of humility is beautifully expressed in the life of Jesus. He knew who He was yet He didn’t see equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8). Knowing that He came from God and was returning to God, and that the Father placed all things under His power, He was able to humble Himself and even wash His disciples feet (John 13:1-5).
Jesus modeled a servant heart in all that He did and told His disciples that the greatest in the kingdom would be the servant of all (Matthew 23:11). The reason why Jesus could serve as He did was because He knew that He was loved before the creation of the world (John 17:24). The security of His Father’s love overshadowed anything else in His life. That is why it was a complete joy for Jesus to walk with a humble heart, because His Father has a humble heart too.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to join Him and take His yoke of humility upon us, which He refers to as being light and easy. I believe that when we are clothed with the glory of God expressed in our Elder Brother, we will rid ourselves of all the pressure of trying to be something that we are not. No heavy yokes. No striving. No comparing ourselves with others. Just living in the love that God has for us (1 John 4:16) so that we can cease from our own works and enter into the rest of God Himself (Hebrews 4:9-11). Naked and unashamed.
If you are carrying a ‘heavy yoke’ today, I would encourage you to ask God if it is His yoke that you have on your shoulders or one of your own making? After all, the yoke of Jesus is easy and His burden is light. A son is happy to carry the yoke that God gives because it was designed to fit on his own shoulders, not somebody else’s.
I believe that little kids are the greatest example of humility that we can find in our orphan based world system. When the disciples asked Jesus who would be the greatest in the Kingdom, He called up a little child and said that the greatest in the kingdom are those with a childlike heart (Matthew 18:1-5). You don’t have to teach little children to be humble. They just are.
They know that they cannot do anything by themselves, but they need their parents to be strong for them at all times. They find it easy to rest in the reality of who they are because they know nothing yet of the Tree of Knowledge that will wreak havoc in their lives when they get bigger.
The sooner we realize that our Father delights to reveal His kingdom to those with a childlike heart (Matthew 11:25), the quicker we will want to take on the posture of a little child. I believe that childlike humility will vanquish any form of pride, self-hatred and false humility that religion has taught us to value.
A son is happy to be clothed in humility. He doesn’t strive to compete with other siblings, he is simply content to live in love. He doesn’t spend his energy comparing himself to others because he is satisfied to simply be who God created him to be. True humility is simply knowing who we are from God’s perspective and resting in our secure identity in Him.
My prayer is that each one of us would see who we truly are from God’s perspective. He is the Ancient of Days and we are simply His little ones. He is our provider, our protector, our helper, our friend... our Father. He is everything that we need.
As Jesus said in John 5:19-20... 19 Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. 20 For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (WEB)
When we truly see the heart of our Heavenly Father and His servant heart towards us, it will break every last bastion of pride that we cling to. When we realize that Almighty God really does call us His children (1 John 3:1), we will no longer strive for any other form of validation apart from the validation He freely gives to us.
May each one of us put on the glorious cloak of humility that has been fashioned for us as God’s holy and dearly loved little ones and may we have the courage to reject the fig leaves of our own making and put on the glorious covering of our Elder Brother.