The High Calling of Humility

Being called into Christ’s service is the greatest honor we can receive.

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James[.]” (Jude 1a ESV) 

“Familiarity breeds contempt,” as the saying goes. The closer we are to someone, the less likely we are to honor, respect, and appreciate him or her. It is often one’s own family members who are the last to acknowledge qualities of greatness. Jesus affirms this when he says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” (Matthew 13:57). 

Pride and envy are often at the root of this. Rivalry among siblings has been the cause of much turmoil since the beginning. It was the cause of the first murder in human history (Genesis 4), a stolen birthright (Genesis 27), selling a brother into slavery (Genesis 37), and countless other examples in biblical and post-biblical history. 

As we come to the letter of Jude, the first issue that presents itself is the identity of the author. Who was Jude? Various arguments have been made, but, most likely, Jude was the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). If this is the case, the way in which Jude introduces himself in this letter should be given special attention. 

Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him until after his resurrection (Mark 3:21, John 7:5, Acts 1:14). Ultimately, this was because the Spirit had not yet not opened their eyes to see the truth or effectually called them to faith, but the fact that they were members of his family likely contributed to their unbelief. In Matthew 13, those in Nazareth who heard Jesus’ teaching took offense at him, precisely because of their familiarity with him. 

“Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. (vv. 54-57) 

Though Scripture does not say it explicitly, it is reasonable to think that Jude took offense as well. He may have thought, Who is my brother to think that he is anyone special? And yet, by God’s providence, Jude’s blindness and rivalry were replaced with faith. He, along with his brother James, became leaders in the early church with significant authority and honor. 

Jude could have introduced himself in this letter as “Jude, a brother of Jesus Christ and of James.” Jude could have taken advantage of the equality which siblings share. Rather, he chooses to identify himself as “servant” of Jesus, highlighting his inferiority and Jesus’ superiority. 

Jude’s lasting legacy, this letter, displays his great humility. It is his service to Christ, not his blood relation to him, which marks his identity and authority. 

Those of the world clamor for significance and remembrance, but, for even the most powerful, famous, and wealthy in this life, “the memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). We must be careful not to fall into the prideful pursuit of worldly significance. We should, as Jude, strive to be known, above all else, as servants of Christ.

As we go out to fulfill the Great Commission, we must not allow our ambition to outrun our faithfulness. In other words, we must not allow the recognition of faithful servants in the past to attract us more than the commendation of the Lord they served (Matthew 25:23). 

Many who enter into missions do so because of stories of famous missionaries like William Carey or Jim Elliot. “I want to do that,” or “I want to be like Carey and Elliot,” they say. However, William Carey and Jim Elliot did not set out to become household names. They set out to be faithful to their Lord and serve him with the opportunities he gave them, and we remember them because of that faithfulness. Our goal should always be to make a name for the Lord (Isaiah 55:13), not to make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4). 

Jude exemplifies John the Baptist’s words, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). If Jude, the brother of our Lord, was content to be known as his servant, may we be equally content to be known as the same, and may the Lord find us faithful in that calling. 


Heavenly Father, 
We are of small account. We have no ground to magnify ourselves either in our own hearts or to the watching eyes of the world around us. May we strive to be known, above all else, as faithful laborers in service to you. Keep us from pride, which hinders us from carrying out our duties and steals your glory for ourselves. May we make much of your name in our thoughts, words, and deeds. 
In the name of your Son, amen. 

Prayer Requests: 

  1. The world, the flesh, and the devil are constantly working to sow seeds of discontentment in our hearts. Pray for contentment in whatever circumstances to which God calls you. Pray also that missionaries serving around the world would find contentment and gratitude and avoid the trap of comparison. 
  1. Pray for those in positions of leadership, both in the church and in the secular world, to carry their authority with justice and humility. 
  1. Pray that our passion would not become misdirected ambition, hindering our usefulness in the Lord’s service.