The tunic of humility
The tunic was considered an inner garment. Men frequently wore their tunics at knee length, even though ankle length tunics were also acceptable. It was not uncommon for men to strip down to their tunics for labor. John 13:4 tells that Jesus "laid aside His garments" to wash the disciples' feet. He probably took off the outer garments and retained His tunic. The action of washing the feet of His followers, signified both humility and service. A believer who wishes to clothe himself in the humility that Christ modelled, might imagine himself wearing the tunic of humility. "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5 NIV)
The problem for most of us in putting on the tunic of humility is that our ego prevents us. It has a great bias towards self-importance and is incapable of realising our own perverseness. We need to undress and remove the garments of self-adoration in order to see ourselves for what we are really like. The Bible says we are all fallen and sinful to the core before God, and no more deserving than anyone else, because we all lack righteousness with God. Thankfully God's grace is offered to all, and His mercy is not based on our merit.
The best way to counter our over-inflated ego is to over-compensate in our estimation of other people's value. Despite God's incredible perfection, we get a fair indication from the Bible that He is not conceited, and is still determined to value people highly. Therefore, as very imperfect beings, we should all the more emulate God's humility, and repent of conceit or pride, either within or without, as it is unfitting and undeserved. A good understanding of the immeasurable greatness of God will have us holding Him as the object of absolute adoration, and halt us from trying to self-promote ourselves above Him or anyone else. Contrary to popular opinion, self-pride is not from above, but from below; ego will not raise you up, it will find many ways to drag you down.
Humility was one of the most important attributes that Jesus taught and demonstrated to His followers, both in action and in word, even describing Himself as humble, so there would be no confusion. "I am gentle and humble in heart." (Matthew 11:29 NIV) He used children as another example. Jesus emphasized in His teaching that children were not to be overlooked just because they are young and immature, and He rebuked the disciples for not allowing the children to be allowed to come close and listen to Him. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV) Earlier He had said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4 NIV)
It's evident that Jesus wasn't an arrogant person, despite His level of wisdom and ability to teach. He wasn't conceited because of His supernatural powers. We read that He befriended all manner of people, including the working class people like fishermen, and others like the tax collector, and He called them to be His disciples. He, Himself, was the son of a carpenter. He talked with a Samaritan woman whose race was not only considered contemptible by the Jews, but the woman's personal reputation was questionable. (John 4:7-18) He touched lepers who were considered unclean. (Matthew 8:2-3) And He performed the role of a lowly servant when He washed His disciple's feet to teach them that as their Lord, He was setting an example of subservience that they should follow. Servants were often considered second class citizens, but Jesus expected leaders to be like servants. Serving others as more important would not have been possible if the Lord was arrogant or conceited, or allowed us to be.
Jesus' humility was demonstrated in His transition from immortality to mortality. The omnipotent, almighty Son of God gave up His place in Heaven's glory, and the endless reign and honor that goes with it; to become a helpless babe, very dependent on human parents for His upbringing. Jesus relinquished His power, position and place in Heaven to come to earth knowing that He would ultimately be unjustly punished and painfully executed. For God's Son to have come to earth as a mortal human seems to be an incomprehensible act of the greatest humility. In comparable terms it might be like a human deciding it would be noble to give up his humanity to become a lowly ant in order to help the plight of ants, knowing that some of those ants would unjustly kill him. At the end of His ministry on Earth, because of His profound love, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten and humiliated by soldiers and put to death like a criminal at public execution, because it was part of God's plan for Him to suffer much indignity for us.
As we reflect on this, we can appreciate Jesus' willingness to submit to love's demands; often uncomfortable and demeaning demands. An act of sacrifice is only possible when one is free of pride. Jesus demonstrated total surrender of self for obedience to God's will, which is a sign of true and total humility. Like the disciples, we too, must discard our stained rags of self-importance in order to humbly follow Him without pride, acknowledging that the greatest glory, that which is eternal, is derived from the Creator alone. There are some lovely humble people in the world, but it's a specific type of humility that is shown to God, the surrender of our will and our lives to His will, that is of much eternal value. Showing God that you understand His sovereignty, by obedience to His commands and a desire to please Him, is proof of your humility.
"Yours, Lord, is the greatness and power and glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, You are exalted as head over all." (1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV)
"To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more." (Jude 1:24-25 NIV)