Humility is freedom from arrogance
James 4.6 says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
And we see this in action in Mark 10.13-16.
In their arrogance, Jesus’ disciples “rebuked” people for bringing little kids (Luke adds “babies) to Jesus. And Jesus gets ticked. Why?
Children in the ancient near east were powerless politically, physically, and socially. My daughter, for example, doesn’t add anything financially to our family. She takes. My daughter doesn’t add peace and quiet to our family. My daughter doesn’t add social status to our family. With that in mind, it’s easy to hear the disciples saying “Get these kids out of here. We’re trying to establish a kingdom.” In fact, one commentator writes:
“in the ancient world children added nothing [economically] and did not count. The [shady dudes of the day] would collect discarded children and raise them to be gladiators or prostitutes and even disfigure them to enhance their value as beggars.”
Children were considered nothing. And the disciples rejected them. The disciples thought they were better than children. But these guys were mostly nobody’s from nowhere who had been rejected by society at one point or another. But they forgot that. And in their arrogance they tried to stop others from coming to be with Jesus. And God opposes the proud. So that’s why Jesus went off on them.
How did Jesus model humility?
He gives the children the three things they need most: time, touch, and blessing.
His Time: “Jesus took them in his arms.” This means he dropped what he was doing to embrace these kids.
His Touch: “put his hands on them.” Jesus appropriately touches everyone he comes in contact with. He touches everyone’s hearts, and in this story, he literally touches these kids in a tickle-fight kind of way.
His Blessing: “he blessed them.” This means Jesus encouraged them – He told them they mattered – He told them they were valuable.
How do we respond to this?
The disciples were really arrogant in this story. They rejected people that they assumed weren’t worth Jesus’ time. And God opposes the proud. But the kids in this story weren’t arrogant. They didn’t say “Convince me to come to Jesus.” They were just waiting for distractions to get out of the way so they could be with Him! And Jesus was humble, too. He spent time with the outcasts. He embraced people who, according to the culture, had no value. God hates arrogance. God opposes the proud. Our lives should be permanently marked by humility because Jesus was humble enough to let children come hang with him. And He was humble enough to go hang on a cross. This is a hard one to do. But when you get inked by humility, you are more like Christ than you ever were before. God opposes the proud. But He gives grace to the humble. So may the direction of your life be God first, others second, and yourself third.