"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." — Philippians 2:3-4
God's word speaks out loudly and clearly at every corner of Scripture in regard to the sin of pride and the virtue of humility. "Repetition is the mother of all learning" (a Latin proverb).
It was pride, you remember, that brought the first sin into the world, and we have been fighting that battle between flesh and Spirit ever since (Galatians 5:17).
A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. One of those was Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, who was an outstanding example of this truth. He was the founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881, which was the first institution of higher learning for African Americans. In addition, he was an author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.
While he was president of Tuskegee, he was walking to the school through an exclusive section of town one day when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Dr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace.
A little girl who was watching him recognized Dr. Washington and later revealed his identity to the lady. The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see the president in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely.
"It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a new friend."
She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.*
Now for the rest of the story:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:5-11
Thank you, Jesus, for showing us the way.
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
— Booker T. Washington
*Our Daily Bread, www.sermonillustrations.com