The drugs had apparently run their course and now the pain was coming back. Every little move felt like someone was trying to rip open my brand new stitches. A long creaking sound let me know that someone had opened the door to my bedroom. I gave a look around the room but couldn’t see anyone. And then a sweet, familiar voice came from my bedside:
“Daddy, can I get some water for you?”
“Yeah, baby. I’d appreciate that.”
I was a couple days post-op, laid up in bed recovering from minor surgery. My 3 year old daughter had taken it upon herself to take care of daddy, bringing me water whenever she made her rounds and making sure I knew to “call if you need anything!”
During those days of recovery, I was struck by how much I needed other people. Simple chores had become ordeals that others had to help me with. Those days were extreme examples of something that I have been processing ever since: we spend most of our lives in a state of dependence on others.
Think about it. You’re reading these words because somewhere along the way, someone taught you how to read. Right now, you’re using a device that was designed, manufactured, shipped, and sold by a chain of other people. The food you’ll eat later will likely have been packaged and provided (maybe even prepared!) by others. In just about everything we do, we are dependent in some way on someone else. And it’s this realization of our dependence on others that moves us toward the humility practiced by Jesus.
The book of Matthew does a great job of highlighting Jesus’ dependence on God for all things. His birth required an act of God (1:18-25). He waited for God’s affirmation of his ministry before beginning his public work (3:13-17). He preached a message of peaceful reliance on God’s provision (6:25-34), and before his most important and excruciating work, He sought God’s wisdom and strength to go on (26:36-56). In everything he did, Jesus acknowledged his dependence on God.
If the Son of God himself lived in a state of dependency on God, then the entire idea of “independence” is a myth. More than that, it is one of the most absurd and insidious of all lies. And belief in that lie produces the most absurd and insidious of all sins: pride. To think that we are in any way truly “self-sufficient” isn’t just a social faux pas. It’s an act of contempt for the One who has given us every good thing (James 1:17).
So where do we go if we want to avoid pride? What can be done to defuse the lie of independence and live in the humility Jesus practiced?
The starting point of humility must be an acknowledgement of our own dependency.
My hope is that this post does for you what that 3 year old girl with a glass of water did for me. I hope it causes you to consider just how many people you’ve had to depend on in your life. I hope it fosters a deep sense of gratitude towards those people, and ultimately towards God. And I pray that as gain a greater understanding our own dependency, we would understand a bit more about what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are the humble.”