Japanese Humility (John 13:13-15)

Humility is a pervasive trait for the people of Japan. It is on display everywhere, from the salespeople in department stores, to subway guards, to the managers and CEOs of large companies. It is never forced and always delivered with a smile and a bow.

This trait is ingrained within the psyche of the Japanese people. While there may be a superficial resemblance to the Judeo-Christian Golden rule paraphrased as, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, for many Japanese, the motivation is steeped within the Buddhist traditions of karma, good moral actions lead to a future rebirth into a higher and greater existence, eventually leading to enlightenment.

The culture and traditions of the Jewish people and early Christians may seem alien to some Japanese people. And therefore some of the teachings of Jesus may not resonate within the Japanese consciousness. But God’s truth is absolute and transcends any cultural or linguistic differences.

Humility was on display many times by Jesus Christ. He touched and healed lepers, a group of people for whom Jewish levitical laws forbid physical contact. He was willing to minister to prostitutes and adulterers. And He made Himself a servant. The Lord of the Universe willingly took on human form and temporarily lay aside His Glory to secure our redemption. Only a few hours before He would be tortured and put to death on the Cross, Jesus took upon Himself the most humbling task of washing the feet of His disciples.

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
John 13:13-15 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ took on this humble task as an example of how we should serve others. We serve, not because we are attempting to earn our salvation, but out of gratitude for what God has done for us.

The humility of Jesus Christ should resonate with the Japanese people. Any cultural barrier that seemingly exists is man-made. God is not bound by man’s limitations and His Word will not return void and will accomplish what He pleases.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.