I wrote about humility on Monday and Wednesday. Joseph was humble and did not need all those around him to see his faithfulness. Mary was humble as she went on this adventure with God, and even though she knew the ultimate purpose was going to be excellent, the journey was going to be difficult.
The entire Advent season is a story of humility, but it also shows the humility that we ought to have towards God. Prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, we had no way to reconcile with God. There was no mediator, and there is a divide that we can do nothing to repair.
Given this predicament, should the attitude of Joseph and Mary been anything other than humble? Certainly not. They were normal people like you and I, and they had no way to repair the gap between God and man either. There humility was the appropriate response to God’s greatness, majesty and provision.
Obviously, in our American culture today, humility is not always seen as a virtue. Sometimes, we think that we’re going to get walked all over if we don’t promote ourselves, so we endlessly try to make ourselves appear better. And, to be fair, in a world that glorifies provocateurs and attention seekers (yes, I am looking at you Kardashians), it is no surprise that people want to get that praise themselves. We can get the praise if we go out to find it.
Mary and Joseph were just the opposite. God came to them and explained to them what was going to happen. She did not ask to become the mother of Jesus because she wanted the attention. She humbly did what God asked her to do. He did not follow the law because he wanted to show everyone how great he was. He followed the law because it was the right thing to do.
Maybe then that is the take away I got from this week as I was looking at Mary and Joseph. They were committed to doing what God wanted them to do, but to be committed to someone else’s agenda, you need to make less of your own agenda. If I want to do what God wants me to do, then I need to be willing to do less of what I want to do.
There is an interesting side effect to that however. The more I do what God wants me to do, the more that my desires will line up with His. As that process happens, I will realize more and more that His way is right, and maybe it works out even better when I think less and less of my own plans. It is kind of like any other type of reinforcement behavior. As a good result continues to happen from my behavior, I want more of that good consequence. I don’t mean to make God sound like a vending machine or anything like that, but I am convinced that no matter what happens, the more we pursue God, the more we are going to want to pursue God. The closer we get to Him, the more we are going to want Him.
That process of getting closer to God can only happen as I exercise humility, and Mary and Joseph are good examples of that.