In this bible study, we discuss Christ’s teaching on humility through three interactions: first, an interaction with his disciples, when he presented a child as an exemplification of humility and declared that “whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:4, NKJV]; second, an interaction with fellow guests at a dinner, where he explained that people should refrain from assigning themselves to seats of honor, to avoid potential demotion by the host, for “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” [Luke 14:11, NKJV]; and third, an interaction with his disciples and a large audience during the Sermon on the Mount.
Humility conveys a message that a person is available and willing to provide or accept assistance as needed. It sets up an environment for fulfilling God’s purpose of mutual provider-receiver relationships among people, whereby every person is potentially a provider sometimes and receiver at other times. Humility conveys a person as predisposed to appreciate other people as potential providers of human service and willing to perform services to benefit others. Therefore, a person’s humility conveys Godliness to others and motivates them to do the same. God creates every person to be humble, expects and rewards humility, but punishes haughtiness.
We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with people that he healed. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as an aspect of the healing process, as if the healing was incomplete without appreciation. We examine accounts regarding a woman he healed of long-term bleeding and a man that was the only one of ten that returned to thank him for healing them of leprosy. In both cases, he appeared to be telling them and us that their appreciation was necessary for them to receive full benefits of the healing. We know the physical healing was complete in each case before the recipient stepped forward to show appreciation. Therefore, his interactions with them lead us to understand that more than the physical healing was needed to complete the healing process.
BENEFITS OF HUMAN SERVICE Examination of these interactions lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient: a short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing; and a long-term benefit that arises because appreciation by the recipient motivates him/her to seek to be good to the provider and an expanding human community around the provider. We believe that this long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit and is the reason Christ wanted recipients of his favor to show appreciation and congratulated them after they did.
Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 describes the image of God (fruits of the spirit) as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This list describes how people feel about you when you interact with them or they observe your interactions with other people. Your attitude conveys the image of God if you come across as attentive with an intent to understand other people’s feelings and needs; you are truthful and your statements are based on your best understanding; you don’t suddenly explode into anger; people don’t have to be perfect in interacting with you, because you will reasonably grant them another chance if they make a mistake.