What does it mean to be humble? How would you identify a humble person? Think of someone that you believe epitomizes your ideals of humility. What stands out about that person?
Now consider the biblical view of humility. What biblical characters stand out for their humility? Perhaps you thought of Moses, who is described as the meekest man to live (Numbers 12:3). Perhaps you thought of David as he kept a tender heart toward God (Acts 13:22). You could have also considered Job, the one with the testimony of uprightness before God (Job 1:8, 2:3). How do these men obtain these godly characteristics? It is because at their times of greatest humility they were demonstrating their greatest dependence upon God.
Humility is complete dependence upon God predicated by one’s realization that one’s own needs cannot be met in one’s own strength. The humble person states that his life cannot be lived apart from dependence upon God. Keep in mind that we were not created to be independent from God. If we needed someone to make us then we also need someone to maintain us. Our greatest usefulness and greatest peace come when we completely rely upon God for all things. Though the previously mentioned men were certainly capable and talented men, they understood that in each moment of life they needed God’s presence and power. When life became too hard to stand, they kneeled at the feet of God. It is humility that leads the Christian to receive all the grace he needs for daily living.
Grace and humility are tied together with God’s declaration in James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” It is only through pride that we live independently of God, and it is only through humility that we realize our need to rely upon God.
If humility is hard for you to define, then it will be very difficult for you to practice. Yet, the practice of humility and the receipt of grace are explained in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The key elements can be summed up in the words “come,” “take,” and “rest.” Putting these together forms an easy-to-remember sentence, “come take rest.” Humility causes one to come; submission causes one to take the yoke of Christ; God’s grace causes one to rest in the security of God’s love.
If you have a need to lift a burden, then you must recognize that you cannot lift it on your own. You must “come” to Jesus and seek His assistance. It is Jesus Christ alone who has the power to lift any burden, even the seemingly impossible ones (Matthew 28:19, Luke 18:27). As sinful beings, we have a tendency to inflate our resilience because of our perception of superior strength, be it intellect, skill, or experience, as well as to rely on our resources, be it finances, relationships, or assets (Psalm 33:16-22). As a result, we do not choose to come to Christ. Only those who humbly accept their helplessness will come to Christ. Have you accepted your need of the Savior? Have you come to the realization that without Christ you can do nothing (John 15:5)? Sadly, those who have not gained this godly perspective have deceived themselves (Galatians 6:3). Don’t fool yourself – come to Jesus today!
Once the humble one has come to Jesus, He invites the humble into service with Him by taking upon himself “the yoke.” This is a reference to the wooden crosspiece used to couple farm animals, such as two oxen, together in order to accomplish a task. As farmers can tell you, between the two animals there will always be a leader and a follower. Spiritually speaking, this same principle applies. The only trouble is that we desire to be the leader and try to make Christ the follower! We are not directed to be the leader; we are directed to be the submissive follower in the yoke with Christ. We will waste a lot of energy trying to take charge while Christ patiently and strongly waits for you to submit to His leadership. Once we submit to the Lord’s leadership, the energy we previously put toward following our own way (Proverbs 1:31; Isaiah 53:6) will be redirected into meaningful, purposeful service for the Master. By getting in the yoke with Christ, not only will you share His attitude of humility, but you’ll also practice the submission which is required to gain His strength.
Here’s the paradox – how does taking on the added weight of the yoke make my burden any lighter? The yoke can make the burden light because it pictures the work that only the grace of God can perform. Honestly, prayer for grace is a burden to be borne – it requires the sacrifice of time, sleep, family fellowship, and perhaps other activities. However, when grace is added to the life of the believer, its amazing sufficiency is more than enough to make bearable all burdens. Consider the apostle Paul as he dealt with the “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7-10). He was dealing with a terrible burden: the affliction of a messenger of Satan sent to violently attack him. Three times he prayed for the Lord to remove the affliction, but the Lord would not do so. Instead, He gave Paul something even better – His grace! This changed Paul’s perspective so much that Paul began to rejoice in his infirmities and saw them as an opportunity to praise his gracious God. Because he was willing to come to the Lord in humility and submit to the Lord’s plan, Paul was in the yoke with Christ and received all the grace he needed to bear such a dreadful burden.
Without such a submissive humility, there will always be turmoil in your soul. The yoke will never be easy nor the burden light. Apart from the grace of God, peace will be a fleeting day dream. It is as though you will push the boulder up the mountain only to watch it cascade into the valley once again. Rest is only available to those who have come to Christ in full assurance of His power and willingness to help. It is for those who have received His grace to plow in unison with the serving Son of God. Assurance is for those who know that the finish line is within reach because their greatest encourager, the Lord Jesus Christ, is running beside them (Hebrews 12:1-2). Peace is reserved for those who access the throne of grace and come boldly to it to find grace to help in their time of need (Romans 5:1-2, Hebrews 4:16). Rest to your soul is available to you if you will “come” and “take” it.
Let’s get specific. Take time to make a list of some areas where you need divine help. If we’re honest, there are areas in our lives which need specific focus and thus should become a focal point of our prayer life. These could include understanding the Bible, stopping habitual sin, doing things “your way” instead of God’s way, flat out rebellion against authority, and other problem areas, shortcomings, or weaknesses. The list can also include situations that have brought struggle into your life such as a bill that needs to be paid, a loved one that needs to be saved, a friend who needs encouragement, or many others. Turn to the Bible to discover how to have victory in each area, yield yourself to God for His guidance, and apply God’s truth to your life. Or, to put it another way, “come take rest.”