Of all virtues, Jesus elevated meekness above the rest. Why humility? It is the door opener to grace, and no virtue enters our lives except that humility acknowledges our need and requests virtue to come. Without humility, we see no reason to change or appropriate future grace.
Yet, humility not only hosts the other virtues, it is also the life essence that sustains them. It is humility that recognizes when love is growing cold and humility that confesses our need for greater purity. Without humility, our virtues harden into lifeless statues; we are outwardly religious, but inwardly unable to change.
Humility is the taproot of true nobility. For it provides increase to wholeness, and life and maturity to all other virtues. It is the antidote to Phariseeism and the cure for a Jezebelian attitude.
Consider: when Jesus was asked by His disciples, “Who then is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” He put a child in their midst. He said, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 18:1,4).
What a sublime wonder! In Heaven, the height of greatness is measured by the depth of one’s humility.
Consider Wuest’s Expanded Translation of Jesus’ statement:
“Therefore, he who is of such a nature as to humble himself like this little child, esteeming himself small inasmuch as he is so, thus thinking truly, and because truly, therefore humbly of himself, this person is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus came to establish Heaven in the lives of His followers. Thus, He introduces the realm of God to His disciples with the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:3).
But there is not one proud individual in Heaven. There are no self-righteous beings in Heaven.
Here on earth we see the strutting pride – the air of self-importance – manifest in leaders and celebrities. Again, we behold the air of false superiority in our cultural prejudices. We see unrepentant pride in the conflicts that lead to divorce and the offspring of pride – envy and jealousy – in the inordinate desire of men to be glorified before other men.
Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit! Not the perfect, but the poor. Yes, we are called to standards of perfection, and strive we must toward that upward call. Yet, perfection in Heaven is measured, not in degrees of self-sufficiency, but in degrees of dependency and surrender. We can search for an eternity and we will observe truly: there dwells not one proud soul in all of Heaven.
Today, we cry for revival and pray for breakthroughs, and persevere we must. Yet the Lord’s eyes are upon a certain individual. He says,
“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite'” (Isa.57:15).
The disciples were arguing about who is greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus placed a child in their midst. This is greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven: to possess a humble heart.