Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997. Three million people showed up for Diana’s funeral on September 6, and it was broadcast around the world.
Do you remember who died the day before Diana’s funeral? It was Mother Teresa. How fitting that the world was so absorbed by the death and burial of a famous princess that they hardly noticed the passing of humble Teresa.
I think she would have wanted it that way. The world values fame and fortune, power and prestige. God values humility:
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit. (Isa 66:2)
Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matt 5:3)
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:12)
Paul once wrote the greatest description of humility ever:
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.
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. (Phil 2:3-7)
That entire passage is about humble service—given by Christ and expected of his followers. We are first served by him, then enabled to be humble servants of one another.
Consider the word grasped. Paul says Jesus didn’t cling to the palace of heaven. He didn’t use his identity as the Son of God to dodge the draft, to avoid the mission his Father had for him. He willingly left his Father’s side to come down to us: “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
Jesus also humbled himself by never using his divine power for selfish gain. Satan tempted him to make stone into bread after 40 days of fasting, but Jesus refused. When he was on the cross and could have called legions of angels to rescue him, he would not use his divine power to save himself.
It is on the cross that Christ’s humility was most gloriously displayed. For your sake he endured shame and ridicule:
I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. (Ps 22:6-7)
He became human in order to die this shameful death. From the moment he was born, Jesus was living on death row. He didn’t want to die, he begged his Father to find another way. But because there was no other way for the covenant to be fulfilled, Jesus humbly submitted to his Father’s will:
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isa 53:7)
In Jesus, all the fullness of deity lives in a humble human body. He had to be both human and divine, you know—so he could take your sin with him into death, and take your soul with him to heaven.
The world needs to hear about this God! No other religion on earth worships a humble, suffering Savior. The world needs to see his humility at work—in us.
Mother Teresa was voted the “Most Admired Person of the Century” in 1999. I think it was the combination of humility, love, and service that draws us to her—and to Jesus. Teresa said:
Jesus went about doing good. And we are trying to imitate him now because I believe that God loves the world through us. Just as he sent Jesus to be his love, his presence in the world, so today he is sending us.
May I encourage you today to worship the humble Savior who has freely given you love unimaginable and life eternal? And will you ask him to fuel your own humble service to those around you? The world doesn’t understand true humility, or amazing grace. Show them some! And then tell them about Jesus who is the source.