In our culture today, humility is a word which is often not spoken, or a characteristic rarely seen. Where Ya’akov (James) 4:10 exhorts, “Humble [ourselves] in the sight of Adonai, and He shall lift you up,” (TLV), the world generally responds with silence.
Within the still world and even many churches, humility is a posture less travelled and even less honored in our post-biblical society. Where humility was once held in the highest esteem, today, our culture in an outside of the Body tends to value “self” over service and “identity” over holiness.
Counter to what we see, in the late 1800’s we find a different example in D.L. Moody, one of the great evangelists and revivalists of the day and at the time, the leader of renown Bible Conferences in Northfield, Massachusetts. At the time, these conferences drew hungry leaders from around the world in hopes of being discipled and equipped for the work of the Kingdom. One year a large group of Pastors from Europe arrived for the annual event and were given rooms at the dormitory of the Bible College. As was their “custom,” the European men all placed their shoes outside their rooms expecting that they would be finely polished and cleaned by “servants” during the night for the following day.
As one could expect this was not Europe, but instead Massachusetts, and there were no servants assigned to American dormitories. Yet as the night hours passed and Moody walked through the halls of the school and prayed for his guests, he saw the shoes all lined up down the hall and realized what had happened. In that moment, Moody could have reacted thinking - “Don’t they not realize this is America, and not Europe,” but Moody was a man of Humility. So, without a word, he gathered up all the shoes and took them back to his own room and delightfully polished each pair as if they belonged to the Lord Himself! Moody told no one of his act of service, but a close friend interrupted him in the middle of his polishing of the shoes and joined him in delightful service as the Pastors slept.
I am sure that as D.L. Moody shined each pair of shoes, the words of John’s Gospel rang in his heart,
“So, [Yeshua] rose from the table, removed His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. Then he poured some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the talmidim and wipe them off with the towel wrapped around Him.” (John 13:4-5 CJB)
Here we are reminded that acts of humility and joyful service is the natural posture for all believers in Yeshua - it is never about us! It is important to note that Yeshua’s act of service in washing the disciples feet came only moments after Satan had entering the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray him (vs. 2) and yet, Messiah was not deterred and held to His mission and in serving his friends around him. Like Yeshua, our acts of humility and lifestyle of service will often come (as with D.L. Moody above) with no acknowledgement, no fanfare and at times will even invoke the anger or rejection from those who choose to serve and love. Yet, for us, our response must always be as Yeshua, our humble, servant King in laying down our lives and serving with JOY anyway!
Our calling to lead lives of humility is best seen in the Letter to the Hebrews,
“… looking to Yeshua, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)
It is in JOY that we are called to always love, to always serve and in every moment - walk in humility before God and for the sake of the other. It was for our hope and salvation that Yeshua - for the JOY that was laid before Him endured Calvary as our Passover Lamb, so that we would not have to. Likewise, we are called to deny ourselves, to lay it all down for Him and in JOY find our true self in the Path of Humility. In our world that demands, “Me! Me! Me!” - and “What I Want, Demand or Need,” the message of Yeshua requires for all of us holy Surrender, willful Service, and a Joyful heart willing to be Last! Different than the standard of this world, and yet one path will lead to life while the other death.
Counter to God’s path set before us, the evil inclination shouts pride, yet in the light of Yeshua’s great love, our pride is called to die! This diabolical enemy called pride, is always at the door, seeking to get in and corrupt everything and everyone it touches. Of pride,
C.S. Lewis further reminds in his classic, Mere Christianity that it was pride that made the devil the devil; that pride leads to every vice - developing into a complete anti-God state of mind and has been the chief cause of all misery in every nation and every family since the beginning of the world.
In all of this we must never forget the spiritual battle to which we are all engaged in. Where God desires that we model our lives with Yeshua who “… humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Phil. 2:8 ESV) Yet as our adversary, the Devil of whom our Sages refer to as “the evil prompter,” desires that we turn from humility and Adonai’s commands, serve ourselves instead of God and His mitzvot (commandments).
As the people of God, we are called every day to find our true self alone in Messiah and to choose Humility and Service as he did. Our lives are not our own, for they have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and our true self, our true posture and true calling is the road marked with humility. Like Dwight L. Moody, on your path to the Kingdom, you too will find lined up, rows of shoes that need polishing and hearts which needs transforming,
Go today, do not hesitate, and serve those to whom God has placed in your path - Go and polish your neighbors shoes!
Blessings in Messiah,
Rabbi Mark Rantz
May 03, 2023 | 12th of Iyyar, 5783
This blog post will soon appear in the next edition (Sivan, 5783) of the Tikkun Restore Magazine.
Please subscribe for FREE at:
This topic is soon to be address more in depth from a new book to come our by Rabbi Mark Rantz titled, "Let Go Polish Their Shoes: Lesson from a Lifestyle of Humility."
Please follow our Rabbi's blog as he shares from our weekly Torah Portion from a distinctively Messianic Jewish Perspective! Shalom!