Beginning with the premise that all truth is God’s truth, I always find it fascinating when the study of psychology proves what the Bible has said all along. Advancements in neuroscience, including the concept of neuroplasticity for example, gives us a deeper understanding as to how to “renew our minds” and demonstrates why prayer and worship are actual brain-changers.
Recently I was thinking about the biblical concept of Christ-like humility, and I came across an interesting article, “8 Psychological Benefits of Being Humble.” Just another reminder that God’s ways are always intended to benefit our lives, even though sometimes it feels like he is forcing us to do the “right” (but very unpleasant) thing. Eating broccoli enriches your life even though donuts might be tastier in the moment. However, for those who place a high value on health, eating healthy foods is not a chore but a gift.
So what is humility and how can it benefit your mental health?
I first turn to the Bible for definition, and I find a powerful description of humility in Philippians 2:5-11:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (NLT).
I have left the formatting of these verses as they appear in Scripture to highlight that this seems to be a quote of a song or poem. Some have suggested that this may have been a song that Paul and Silas sang together in prison. Humility as described here is something so central to the identity of Christ that it is the key trait that enabled him to save us. In considering this, I find that there is tremendous spiritual power in Christ-like humility when we adopt a willingness to serve others even when it costs us greatly.
So far, this idea would seem like a horrible life of suffering. Under such a heavy weight, one’s mental health would surely crumble. And yet in the article I mentioned earlier, humility is cited as being soothing to one’s soul, increasing one’s capacity for self-control, increasing work and school performance and improving a person’s relationships. How is this possible?
Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind here: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (NLT).
When we truly accept and embrace humility without fighting against it, we enter into a level of spiritual peace that God designed for us to have. Our bodies and our minds can be at rest when we do not consider ourselves better, wiser, or more “right” than others. When we take time to acknowledge our own blind spots, we have a greater level of grace for others. We re-align ourselves with God and with community and we release all our instincts to have something to prove.
If Jesus’ burden is light, then we are actually relieved when we follow his example. He didn’t spend his time on earth complaining or telling his disciples of all the great things he had given up for them. He had no resentment. He knew that his choice to come to earth was freely given, for a purpose and for a season that would end in a victory. Perhaps we would all find peace and rest if we released resentment and humbled ourselves as servants of all. May God give us grace to do so today and restore our minds and hearts as we trust in him.