Tag Archives: humility

Today’s Scripture – October 22, 2013

Micah 6:6-8 (NIV):  With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

People have never been able to work themselves into God’s good graces by sacrifices and spiritual acts of devotion.  Many, either to make up for some wrong God has called to their attention, or to try to move Him in their favor, make extravagant promises, do acts of penance, or work long hours in the church or in a ministry.  But even though some of these things are not bad in themselves, they cannot make up for a single sin, and they don’t move God’s heart at all to act in a person’s behalf.  (Especially since God knows that the only reason the person is doing these things is not out of genuine love or devotion, but in a bid to try to manipulate Him.)

Paul had it exactly right:  “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV)  The people of Judah, horrified at the captivity of their brothers and sisters in the northern kingdom, and troubled that God was foretelling the same destiny for them, were all about trying to make it up to God by calling solemn fast days, bringing abundant sacrifices, making solemn pledges.  But God had seen all of that before, clear back to the days of the judges.  And all of it had only signaled a surface repentance, an attempt to placate Him until His anger had cooled down.

What God required for His people then is the same thing He requires of us now:  repentance that results in a completely different direction, a completely different lifelong orientation of our lives toward Him and His way of doing things:

  • ·        Act justly – Fair trading in every area of life.  From refusing to deal sharply, or have fine print in our business dealings, to ensuring that all with whom we are associated hold to the same principles.  This also includes coming to the aid of those who are powerless and mistreated, not to try and get them special treatment, but doing all that we can to help them get treated justly.
  • ·        Love mercy – Another aspect of justice, with even farther-reaching implications.  This includes showing mercy to the poor and downtrodden, especially those who are a part of the Church:  feeding those who are hungry, giving water to those who thirst, inviting the homeless in, clothing those who lack adequate clothing, and visiting those who are sick or in prison.  (cf. Matthew 25:31-46)  It also includes pulling out all the stops for those who are still trapped in their sins and lost; working tirelessly to bring them out of the darkness and into the light.  After all, what good does it do to make someone’s trip more comfortable if their destination is still hell?
  • ·        Walk humbly with our God – This means that each person who wants to experience God’s grace and His presence must live by His rules:  obeying His commands, avoiding sin and compromise at all costs, and seeking to know and to do His will.

It doesn’t matter what else a person does, if we do not clearly show forth these signs of spiritual life, all of the sacrifices we can make in the world won’t move God a single inch.  But, to those who live lives of justice, mercy, and genuine holiness, God will give His presence and His power to enable us to do all of these things, and even greater things than these!

Father, what great promises!  Help us all to truly turn from our own paths, to the life that You have not only commanded us to live, but the life that only You can empower us to live.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – May 1, 2013

Psalm 138:6 (NIV):  Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly,

but the proud he knows from afar.

 

It seems like a contradiction to many that God, though the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the God who is highly exalted and lifted up, shuns those who exalt themselves, and associates most closely with those who are meek and lowly.  And this is not out of pity, but because those lowly ones most clearly show God’s own character – they are most like Him.

The fact is, though He is God, though He is sovereign and all-powerful, He is also lowly in heart.  This might seem strange to many to think of Him in that way, but think about it for a minute.  From the very beginning, since the creation of the universe, God lowered Himself to make it all real.  He got His own hands dirty dealing with material things, quite literally when He formed man from the dust of the ground.  He did not delegate this task of dealing with material things to lower beings, like angels; He did it Himself.  And then He did not stand far off from His creation, but stooped down constantly to interact with these creatures that He made, walking with them, talking with them, and revealing Himself to them so that He could have a relationship with them.

Of course, the deepest lowering He ever did was the incarnation of Jesus – the God of the universe confining Himself to a physical body!  Even then, Jesus could have shown Himself as a demigod, or an avatar, powerful and unconquerable, compelling people to worship Him.  But He came as a lowly child, who grew into a real human man.  Even though His hands had created all things, He came to his creation, not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)

Even after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, God still stoops to be with His creation in powerful relationship, incarnating Himself anew in each believer as the whole Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in our hearts through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Once again, God lives in houses of clay instead of in grand palaces!  He works through those who are lowly enough to surrender their whole lives to Him – to admit from the start that they are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”  (Revelation 3:17)  And through those lowly ones, those who are willing to stoop down to those lost and in need, those most like God Himself, He works to recreate the world.

 

Father, I must admit that I am stunned by this revelation.  It totally changes the way I see everything!  Thank You for being lowly enough, loving enough, to humble Yourself for me, for all of us!  Thank You for revealing Yourself in ways that we can understand.  Thank You for all of it!  Amen.

 

In God’s kingdom, it is…helpful to picture a huge saucer into which is thrown all the people of God in all their giftedness, from the least to the greatest.  Those most strongly gifted for ministry will not rise to the top, but sink to the bottom, where they may undergird and provoke (in the original sense of “challenge” or “call forth”) the rest of the people of God.  (Columbanus:  Letter to a Young Disciple)

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Today’s Scripture – May 1, 2013

Psalm 138:6 (NIV):  Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly,

but the proud he knows from afar.

 

It seems like a contradiction to many that God, through the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the God who is highly exalted and lifted up, shuns those who exalt themselves, and associates most closely with those who are meek and lowly.  And this is not out of pity, but because those lowly ones most clearly show God’s own character – they are most like Him.

The fact is, through He is God, though He is sovereign and all-powerful, He is also lowly in heart.  This might seem strange to many to think of Him in that way, but think about it for a minute.  From the very beginning, since the creation of the universe, God lowered Himself to make it all real.  He got His own hands dirty dealing with material things, quite literally when He formed man from the dust of the ground.  He did not delegate this task of dealing with material things to lower beings, like angels; He did it Himself.  And then He did not stand far off from His creation, but stooped down constantly to interact with these creatures that He made, walking with them, talking with them, and revealing Himself to them so that He could have a relationship with them.

Of course, the deepest lowering He ever did was the incarnation of Jesus – the God of the universe confining Himself to a physical body!  Even then, Jesus could have shown Himself as a demigod, or an avatar, powerful and unconquerable, compelling people to worship Him.  But He came as a lowly child, who grew into a real human man.  Even though His hands had created all things, He came to his creation, not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)

Even after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, God still stoops to be with His creation in powerful relationship, incarnating Himself anew in each believer as the whole Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in our hearts through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Once again, God lives in houses of clay instead of in grand palaces!  He works through those who are lowly enough to surrender their whole lives to Him – to admit from the start that they are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”  (Revelation 3:17)  And through those lowly ones, those who are willing to stoop down to those lost and in need, those most like God Himself, He works to recreate the world.

 

Father, I must admit that I am stunned by this revelation.  It totally changes the way I see everything!  Thank You for being lowly enough, loving enough, to humble Yourself for me, for all of us!  Thank You for revealing Yourself in ways that we can understand.  Thank You for all of it!  Amen.

 

In God’s kingdom, it is…helpful to picture a huge saucer into which is thrown all the people of God in all their giftedness, from the least to the greatest.  Those most strongly gifted for ministry will not rise to the top, but sink to the bottom, where they may undergird and provoke (in the original sense of “challenge” or “call forth”) the rest of the people of God.  (Columbanus:  Letter to a Young Disciple)

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Today’s Scripture – February 26, 2013

Matthew 23:12 (NIV):  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The humility that God requires of people is not the kind that “eats dirt” all the time, or that requires people to beat up on themselves.  That kind of “humility” can be totally false, and quickly becomes toxic.  True humility is what Jesus called “meekness” – a realistic view of oneself and one’s standing before God.  A proud heart compares itself to those around it, and determines that it is better than some, or even most.  It is the spirit of the Pharisee who stood before God and compared himself favorably to the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).  This pride thrusts a person forward – they are focused on themselves, and God takes second place.  True humility looks at God first, and sees oneself in His light.  It’s not that a person sees themselves as worthless, but they see themselves truly and accurately.  A truly humble Christian knows that they are in relationship with God, but they know that they are in that relationship through God’s grace.  They know that they are righteous, but they know that their righteousness comes by God’s Spirit working in them and moving them to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26).  They know that they are dearly loved and cared for, but they know that God’s love is not given to them because they deserve it or are worthy of it, but because it is God’s nature to love and care for them.  These humble people put God first, and compare themselves to no one; they serve God out of love and gratitude, and are able to love others as themselves, because there is no hierarchy or superiority to be maintained.  It is the humility that characterized Moses, Paul, and even Jesus.  Those who keep a humble heart, those who put God first, who serve God and love Him wholeheartedly, He will exalt.  Those who are proud and self-focused, the opposite of humility, He will bring down.

Father, help me to be humble with this true humility.  Help me to always remember where I was when You saved me, and to always give You thanks for how far You have brought me.  All that I am You have made me.  All that is good in me has come from You.  Even my love originates from Your own heart.  Thank You forever!  Amen.

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