Don't Miss Humility this Christmas
Growing up, I often heard a phrase around this time of year: “Don’t miss Christ this Christmas.” It’s a true statement intended to jostle us out of the busyness of this season and remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. But like any cliché phrase it can’t adequately capture the depth, astonishment, and meaning of the incarnation. So, at the risk of sounding cliché, I want to propose another phrase that is also inadequate, “Don’t miss humility this Christmas.”
It’s truly astonishing that the Son of God, being fully God, took on human nature as revealed in the incarnation. It’s amazing that the Creator is identified with the creature in the birth of Jesus Christ. Stephen Carnock says it this way, “What a wonder that two natures infinitely distant should be more intimately united than anything in the world…That the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity; that a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle; the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man; the incarnation astonishes men upon earth, and angels in heaven.” The truth of the incarnation should jostle us out of our busyness and cause us to “fall on our knees” in wonder and amazement.
But have you recently considered what it took for the incarnation to happen? All three persons of the Trinity were involved in the incarnation, but I want to focus on what it took for the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, to be born a babe in Bethlehem. In a word, it took humility. Jesus Christ voluntarily condescended and took on human flesh. It’s captured this way in Philippians 2, “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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8, ESV). The humility of Jesus Christ seen in the incarnation should stop us in our busyness and not only stir wonder and astonishment, but this truth should also humble us. Yes, we should rejoice in the birth of the Christ child, but we should also be laid low, because God was made low. He came to us, lived a perfect life among us, and died for us because “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
In the verses, just before Philippians 2:6-8 that describe the humility of Christ, we, as Christians are called to be humble: “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” (Phil. 2:3-4). How are we to cultivate this Christ-like humility? “Have this mind among yourselves, which is your in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). In other words, we aren’t told in this passage to cultivate humility by imitating a beggar, but by imitating the Son of God himself. As Mark Jones says, “The Christian grace of humility begins by imitating the incarnation of the Son of God.” Because God was made low in the birth of Jesus Christ, in like manner, and by His grace, we can be made low by imitating Christ and like Him “count others more significant than ourselves.”
Don’t miss humility this Christmas. And to help you ponder the wonder of the incarnation, and be humbled by its truth, enjoy this acoustic rendition of “God Made Low” from Sovereign Grace Music. Merry Christmas!
Mark Prater is the Executive Director for Sovereign Grace and serves as an elder at Covenant Fellowship Church. He and his wife, Jill, have three married daughters and a growing number of grandchildren.