We’ve all been there—sitting in our cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic, thinking—maybe shouting—something colorful about every other motorist around us. Drivers speeding up, revving engines, gesturing, all so that they can be first, in front, and faster than everyone else. If someone casts us an angry look as he speeds past, don’t we feel the injustice in our bones? It wasn’t our fault we had to slam on the brakes! We all have the need to feel justified, but if how we feel and function in rush-hour traffic is how we maneuver through friendships, then we’ll miss one of the most vital characteristics we need to maintain these relationships for the long haul—humility.
Do nothing from selfish ambition 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.
watch session three: the profile of a friend
yield the right of way
only jesus can- and should- be first
In the verses immediately following our scripture reading for today, we learn that even though Jesus was royalty, he chose to become a commoner. He chose to become one of us. He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by 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” (Philippians 2:6–8). Think about that for a minute…Jesus didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped. Where humility releases, arrogance grabs. Consider the contrast between Jesus and Satan. The first of angels, Satan craved equality with God so much that he grabbed for it, and God banished him for his attempted coup. Because of our pride, we went down with him, exiled to rebel territory, migrants trying to find a way home.
the foundation of friendship
Even though Jesus was the first of all creation, he released his rights for a time for the sake of our salvation—to the point of death. At times, humility in friendship will require small deaths—death to our wants, death to our need to be right, death to judgment. We will need to obey God by considering the interests of our friends if we want to follow in the footsteps of our Savior.
When we put our friends’ needs and wants ahead of our own, we pursue their hearts in the same way Jesus pursued ours. By acknowledging Jesus’ rightful place as first in our lives, we make room for our friends to be priorities in ours. Humility shows itself as servanthood. It looks like sitting quietly with a friend who is struggling with depression; lugging a sofa up a flight of apartment stairs with a friend who is going through a divorce; baking a birthday cake for a friend celebrating a milestone birthday; tucking a friend’s children into bed when we ache for our own. Also, when we stoop to help our friends pick up the pieces, or high-five them in their wins, we prime ourselves to notice when they do the same for us. Humility banishes arrogance the way God cast out Satan. They cannot coexist. And when we yield the right of way to our friends, we pave the way for friendships that go the distance.
Think about Jesus’ earthly life of humility from the incarnation to the cross. Then consider ways in which you can show humility in your friendships this week. What would make that challenging? Pray for God to help you.
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