Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s hard to be humble when you are the greatest.” I suppose so. I wouldn’t know what that feels like. I’ve had some good accomplishments along with some dismal failures in my life. I remember singing a solo at a Christmas program once when I was 19 or so in front of a packed house at Mark Morris gym. I was singing with a guy who accompanied me on the guitar. We had three concerts that day and the first two times, I sang it just fine. The third time however, I totally blanked out in front of all these people. It was in the middle of the song and suddenly I couldn’t remember anything. I saw the spotlight glaring at me and the silhouettes of heads in the glow. Brutal enough, but then I had the guitar player start over from the beginning thinking I would surely remember the next time through. In the same exact spot, I froze once again. Making matters worse, I started to half sing-speak, firing off Christmas words that I thought would trigger my memory…manger…, swaddling clothes…, shepherds…, etc. I walked off the stage in total embarrassed misery, forever etched in my mind, a humble reminder that I am not all that and a bag of chips.
Unlike my brutal humbling solo attempt, Jesus chose to be humble. Not just a little humble, but He lowered Himself to the point of being spat upon, beaten and crucified by the very ones He came to save. At any moment, He could have called on the forces of heaven to retaliate, but instead chose to stay humbly contained in humanness. He touched the blind, the lame and even lepers, the outcasts of society. God loves humility. He loves to pour favor on those who walk in humility. God opposes the proud, but gives grace (favor) to the humble.
Ali could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but I think I’ll sing my praises to a humble King who came wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger; assuming of course, I don’t have to sing that song again.