"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
Our world could really do with more people who are just, merciful and humble. Walking humbly seems so alien to the way many of us operate.
Our culture tells us to promote ourselves and to run hard after whatever it is that satisfies us and makes us happy. Compare that to Jesus' teaching, which says: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matthew 20:26-28).
There is a humility in the way Jesus refers to Himself. He didn't come to follow His own selfish whims, but to serve others and lay down His life for them – and He asks us to do the same. How different from the way that earthly kings (and even bosses at work) can wield their power and authority!
Paul, too, teaches us about how humility and service go hand in hand: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
This doesn't mean we should belittle ourselves in order to concentrate more on others. But there is a challenge to think about whether we actually consider how our decisions will affect those around us, or whether we are more concerned with our own wellbeing.
The famous story about Mother Teresa's shoes is a real picture of selfless humility. The Missionaries of Charity, which Mother Teresa was a part of, relied entirely on donations. Whenever they received second-hand shoes she would always take the worst ones for herself, leaving those in better condition for other people. She wanted the best for others. Do I? Does the way I live reflect that value – or not?
As we come to the end of 2016 and look to 2017, it can be a good time for each of us to reflect back and look forwards. Here are some questions you might like to ask yourself now, but also make a note of in order to ask yourself at regular points over the coming year:
• What was my main motivation last year, and what do I think God wants my motivation and focus to be in future?
• Did I walk humbly before God during the last year? Am I open to Him teaching me how to be more humble in my walk with Him in the coming months?
• How much did I value those God put around me last year? Was I just and merciful towards those I interacted with?
• How can I serve those who are regularly in my life?
• How can I humbly share God's love with my local community and more widely?