As a warrior and pilot, I love to win. Having been blessed with some tremendous achievements in my life, I began to wonder if the worldly accolades that bring me a sense of satisfaction are really worth anything in light of Kingdom eternity. Over time, I began to ask myself, “What does God consider winning?” As a person of faith, what does it look like to be a true champion in the Kingdom of God?
In today’s world, it’s easy to get the impression that winners must be independent, strong personalities who relentlessly promote themselves. Our lives are inundated with digital media feeds, advertisements, celebrity opinions, and Instagram pictures of wealth, power, perfection, and decadence. But God’s economy seems to be radically different. Jesus said that we have it all backwards, that the weak are the strong, the poor are rich, the least are the greatest, and the last will be first. The Apostle Paul said the only thing worth bragging about was his weakness since that is where the power of God shone most brightly.
Our culture tells us to be proud of who we are and what we have done, but the Bible tells us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12). Throughout the Bible, God tells us that humility is the mark of real champions in the Kingdom.
Genuine humility is more than self-deprecation or deference. It’s coming to see ourselves in right relationship to God; rightly seeing that we are broken and hurting vessels in desperate need of love and redemption. Humility is not found in denying our strengths but rather in recognizing our weaknesses. The Bible says that God is the only one worthy of praise, honor, and glory (Revelation 4:11) and the only one who is good (Mark 10:18). You and I are broken, sinful vessels who find God’s favor and friendship only through His grace, His unmerited favor. There is nothing good in you or I that can draw God near; it’s only through His immense love for His creation that we find His grace. Humility is a place of utter dependence on God.
For true humility to take root, we must see ourselves as we rightly are, broken and hurting, and see others as God sees them, beautiful creations with great value and possibility. True humility is positional. Just as Jesus Christ gave up the glory and honor of His heavenly throne to come to earth and give His life as a sacrifice, a ransom for you and me, so we, in like humility, must take upon ourselves a servant’s heart, choosing to focus on another’s value and potential rather than our own rights and position.
Humility, says the late Christian writer and teacher Andrew Murray, is the only soil in which grace can take root. Humility is not so much a grace or a virtue along with the others; it is the root of all the others, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows God to do all that He can do in and through the lives of His surrendered children.
All believers who have chosen to recognize God’s call on their lives and surrender their plans and desires to His leading, want to reach the end of this life and hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, now enter your master’s rest” (Matthew 25:21). For those who believe, this is the crowning statement of the champion’s life, and humility is the foundation of it all.
It’s not what you or I do that matters, but the heart posture with which we do it. That posture must be rooted in genuine humility — an utter dependence on God, knowing that we are in and of ourselves lacking anything good, or honorable, or worthy of praise. Only through His love and grace do we accomplish anything at all — even our next breath. Genuine humility is the hallmark of true Kingdom champions.