In typical Rabbi fashion, we will begin with a question. Are you ready?  Say the first thing that comes to your mind – What was the first sin?

Times up – Did you say eating the fruit in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden).  If so, great choice, but there was one sin that occurred even before that—Pride! Pride you say, that can’t be right.  Oh, but it is.  Remember the serpent, Ha-Satan (the deceiver, slander). Satan is not the evil one’s name; it is his character.  He rebelled against the most High.  If you remember your scripture He was Lucifer–light bearer, the anointed cherub.  He was said to be beautiful and was privileged to carry worship to HaShem (G-d).  Somewhere he became proud and wanted the worship for himself, not the one who deserved it.  So pride was the first sin.

Pride is the antithesis to a healthy self esteem image. In my last article on self esteem, I said that our self esteem is important to our health and well being. If we do not like ourselves, it impacts our self worth, how we see G-d, and how we see others. Likewise, pride can also affect our health and well being physically, mentally and spiritually.  When we have elevated opinions of ourselves as they relate to others, we do not value others as highly as we do ourselves.  We also do not see our need for total dependence on God.

Humility Connects Us to Each Other

Thinking of ourselves more highly than others disconnects us from each others as human beings. Rabbi Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) encouraged us not to be “haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly” and not “ be wise in

[our] own estimation(Rom 12:16).  The story of the Good Samaritan exemplifies this message:

Luke 10:25 – 37
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And He said to him, “What is written in the Torah (Law)?  How does it read to you?”
And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”
But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.
“And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
“Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,
and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
“On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’
“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”
And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

 

Who proved to be a real neighbor? It was the Samaritan.  Note in the above passage, the lawyer even though he answered correctly tries to justify himself; this is pride in action.  Messiah uses a despised people, the Samaritans, half-Jewish, half not, to show what humility and righteousness is.  The Levite and Priest both had valid reasons not to help (touching a unclean person or dead person would have made them unable to serve in the Temple for a week).  They also thought themselves as above it.  The Samaritan comes along and helps the man, even though he was considered a half-breed.  The Samaritan did not think ‘ I am too good to help this person’, he instead showed mercy. Humility involves seeing each other as human beings and valuing each other as God values each of us. Now note the lawyers response,” The one who showed mercy toward him.” Messiah then said “Go and do the same.”

Humility Brings Healing

When we humble ourselves and reach out to the helpless, the downtrodden or the rejects of society, we bring healing. The Samaritan bandaged up the wounds of the man, poured oil and wine on them. Though the Priest and the Levite were forbidden by the law to touch the man, their pride cannot be ignored. Pride is, therefore, a roadblock to healing. Instead of becoming instruments of healing, they became protectors of their status. With humility comes vulnerability. Our heart is exposed just like the Samaritan who took the risk to help. To love is a risk.
The Levite’s answer was correct:

And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”

Messiah took the greatest risk because He loved us first. He, too, demands our love entirely—our heart, soul, body and mind, and to love even our neighbors. What a risk, you may say.  And, indeed, it is. But it is love that heals—that ironically repairs our broken hearts; that cures our soul, builds us up and heals our fragmented minds. That’s why Messiah calls this part of the greatest commandment (The first part is Hear Israel the L-rd your G-d is One).  It is very troubling to me that the greatest commandment, from Messiah’s own mouth, is hardly ever recited by believers today.

Humility is Servitude

Messiah also demonstrated the greatest example of humility through servitude in the washing of his disciples’ feet. Kephas (Peter) could not fathom Messiah washing his feet, so he objected initially, saying that Yeshua (Jesus) would never wash his feet (John 13: 6-10). I remember prison ministry, many good folks would not even think of entering a prison to talk to robbers, rapists, drug addicts and murderers.  Many feeling that those persons were not worthy.  Messiah said “you visited me in prison”, the response was “when did we visit you in prison” and Messiah said “When you do this for the least you have done so for me.”  That is the essence of humility:  caring for others, valuing other people and the realization that “except by the grace of G-d, Go I”.  These are keys to humility.
Have a nice house, a wonderful family, and a good job?  Why do you have those?  Is it because you are intelligent, hard working, educated?  The reality is you have those by the grace of G-d.  Why was I born in the US, to parents who could send me to college?  Not by anything I did, but by G-d’s grace.

Why Humility is Important to our Health

Realizing all we have is from G-d is the beginning of humility.  Even our very ability to know Messiah is by G-d’s grace.  Grace is defined as unmerited favor. Whereas humility brings freedom and gratitude, pride brings stress and ingratitude.  When we are humble, we do not have to worry about proving ourselves to anyone, for it is G-d through Messiah who makes all things possible: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Messiah unburdens us of that need to make ourselves feel worthy. Many stress themselves at the risk of incurring cardiovascular diseases. They are driven by excessive ambition and pride. Rabbi Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) warns even G-d’s people not to grow proud:

 

    Romans 11:17 – 27
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree (Olive Tree is Israel),
do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;
for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.
Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”
“THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”

Items to note: Gentile pride over Israel being temporarily punished by G-d is ungodly.  Paul warns that pride can lead to their falling away.  Also note G-d promises something most people fail to grasp “so all Israel will be saved”.

We as partakers in G-d’s gift through Messiah should never be proud, for what we have been given is a free gift.  Knowing that then, let us not have the leaven of pride (leaven is yeast and causes the bread to puff-up), but instead be unleavened as Messiah is unleavened.

Let’s put pride aside, and, instead, let G-d raise us up.  Let us see others as worthy, created in the very image of G-d.