The Spirit doesn’t suggest we be somewhat seasoned with humbleness. He doesn’t teach us to just barely keep ourselves in check with a smattering of humility. He doesn’t nudge us to tone it down and show a little humility. No, the Holy Spirit sets the bar infinitely higher than those easily reached plateaus. God desires us not only to act humble, and not just feel humble, no, He says be clothed with humility. What does being clothed with humility actually look like?
In the end being clothed with humility is a crimson garment of skin, hanging dead on a cross. Do what you will to this garment, mock it and you get no response. Say all manner of evil against it and still no response. Draw more blood and it only adds to its glory. Reject this garment and still it offers its love. And only when you have put on this garment will you understand its meaning and power made perfect in its humility and in fact humiliation.
As you walk inside this garment you will hear words of unkindness and attack as nothing. You will not see anything good about you except the garment in which you are clothed. You will find complete fulfillment that makes selfish responses unworthy of your garment. This garment reminds you of the grace which forgave you of your sins and it allows you to love those who have as yet no garment. This humility shrinks from self praise and is embarrassed by any mention of its own works regardless how sincere and sacrificial.
We as followers of the One who hung almost naked on those planks of death are to somehow emulate that infinite humiliation with a living humility about our own situation that should reflect Him and not us. Speak a word against the Savior and we are grieved, speak a word against us and we receive it as a platitude for Him. How often do we say great and swelling words of humility that profess us to be nothing and Christ as everything, only to respond with aggressive defense when personally challenged? And sometimes even returning evil speaking for evil speaking reveals our utter lack of humility about ourselves. Every time we defend ourselves we take from His glory.
And what is this? Our example, our Lord, lifts up the very instrument that caused Him such humiliation and through His servants preaches it throughout the uttermost parts of the world. And look again, the Lord Creator of all brings with Him the very marks of humiliation to His heavenly throne and eternally displays them for the entire universe to see. What humility is this? What utter humiliation is this that beckons us to follow and reflect? How can this humility do anything but drive us to our knees in Godly sorrow over our own hollow hubris and self righteousness? We are again undone by the glorious example of He who holds the stars and yet became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This Lamb of God wore the spit of sinful man upon His face and responded with forgive them. This Prince took the stripes upon His back of flesh and yet walked to the cross which awaited to humiliate Him in death. This Son of the Living God bowed His head and wore the cursed thorns as a crown of humble glory for the wicked and self righteous world. He went to Golgotha, yea, He sought the cross. How can we ever even scratch the surface of that loving humility? It will redound for all eternity to God’s glory and yet the Spirit bids His followers to follow in His steps. How often do we desire to avoid humility and run straight for the Garden tomb? Resurrection, yes! The humiliation of the cross, no! We think too highly of ourselves, and in fact, we should never think of ourselves, only of Him.
There is nothing that lifts us up so high as when we bow to Him. There is nothing that so mightily reflects Him as when we stand in the midst of persecution with joy and praise to the Risen Christ. There is nothing that so exalts Him as when we are abased. Our commandment is not only to reject returning evil for evil, it is to bless them which curse you and do good unto them which despitefully use you. Forbear and forgive with gentleness and meekness of heart is our journey, and the path to which we are called leads continually to Calvary. How our flesh detests humility, and so often our carnal minds construct some imagined scenario in which we stand as mighty soldiers, unjustly attacked and treated despitefully, and if we don’t return fleshly fire we most certainly articulate a pitiful inventory of our innocence and publish an inflated story of our sacrificial discipleship, all of which are obstacles not reflections of our Lord.
The Lord Christ refused to retain his untouchable eternality, exalted and separated from sinners, but condescended with the mystery of the ages and came in the likeness of sinful and repugnant man. That alone is without sufficient human definition and reveals a colossal, love driven humiliation. Just living as a man would have been a most breathtaking portrait of divine humility, but to actually seek the cross is without any words with which to draw any comparison worthy of the evidence. Even the angels were dumbfounded at such a spectacle and were ready to intervene if called, but they, like us, could not fathom how deeply God would bow to prove and provide what His enemies desperately needed.
And yet the Spirit through the great apostle beckons us to carry that cross as a garment of our own death and His glory as well. We are to put on Christ and reckon ourselves dead. What words does a dead man speak? How indignant is a dead man about untruths spoken of him? How ready is a dead man to respond to attacks against his character? How many lies, how many mockings, how many insults does it take for a corpse to leap from his coffin and defend himself? Does this corpse have his limits and is there only so much he can take?
Let us die to ourselves and in that death watch as God rolls away the stone of our flesh and allows our Savior to resurrect in our lives anew and afresh. We have nothing about which to defend, much less to boast. Our only boast is Christ and in Christ do we live. To roam about in our own desires and lusts and self righteousness is to walk in death. Lay down the lusts of the flesh and remove the grave clothes of our own making. Rejoice when pummeled and suffer persecution in silent worship of the One we serve. It is of no benefit to Him when we are offended at others. Great peace have they that love thy law and nothing shall offend them. A dead man takes no offense, and a resurrected follower of Christ hears nothing but every word that proceeds from His Master’s lips.