Focus on Unity and Humility
The third annual Walther Farms Michigan vs. Michigan State football game took place this last Friday afternoon. It was a great time getting everyone together for some food, family, football and a little ‘trash talking’. In the real game, Michigan has traditionally had the upper hand in the rivalry with Michigan State. But in the last eight years or so, the balance of football power has shifted in the state. What makes it worse is the behavior of former and current Michigan players. In 2007, Michigan player Mike Hart made a comment in which he referred to MSU as a ‘little brother’. On Saturday, a Michigan player threw a giant tent stake into the field at Spartan Stadium to motivate his team. It did the opposite. It was seen as a lack of respect and motivated the Spartans to victory. It was never more obvious than when, late in the game, Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio decided not to take a knee and run out the clock, but rather score another touchdown. He was letting the Michigan Wolverines know that the Michigan State Spartans had enough. It makes me think of the old saying ‘Pride goes before a fall’.
Michigan’s fall from grace has been hard for the program to swallow, and goes to show us the importance of staying humble at all times. I found the following article titled Pride and Humility by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, Vice President of Ministry, C.S. Lewis Institute, and thought it fit perfectly.
“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” So said the late John R.W. Stott. Pride and arrogance are conspicuous among the rich, the powerful, the successful, the famous, and celebrities of all sorts, and even some religious leaders. And it is also alive and well in ordinary people, including each of us. Yet few of us realize how dangerous it is to our souls and how greatly it hinders our intimacy with God and love for others. Humility, on the other hand, is often seen as weakness, and few of us know much about it or pursue it.
Pride is a universal human problem. Everyone suffers from it to some degree. When we have exalted ourselves in pride, God does not want to punish us and bring us low but rather to forgive and restore us. He says again and again in Scripture, humble yourselves, and I will exalt you. This gives us hope and encouragement. God takes pleasure in our efforts to humble ourselves, and he loves to bless and exalt the humble. For just as pride is the root of all sin, so “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue,” as John Chrysostom once remarked.
Admittedly, humility and the humbling of oneself is out of fashion in today’s world and seems unappealing to most of us. However, as Jonathan Edwards said, “We must view humility as one of the most essential things that characterizes true Christianity.” Our perspective on humility can be radically changed if we will ponder and meditate on the greatest example of humility in history: Jesus Christ. By the very act of leaving heaven, coming to earth, and taking the form of man, he demonstrated an unfathomable humbling of himself. Throughout his life on earth, Jesus demonstrated a spirit of profound humility, saying that he came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). On his last night with the disciples, he took a towel and basin and washed their dirty feet (John 13:1–11), instructing them to follow his example of servant hood with one another (John 13:12–17). Andrew Murray captures it well, “Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.”
“Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, help us overcome our pride and replace it with humble spirits. Help us to follow your example of humility as we look to serve others rather than ourselves. Thank you for humbly coming to earth as a man, so we could someday be in heaven with You. It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen”