People of Promise 103 Humility revisited
Humility is one of those topics that needs to be looked at from several directions. When we approach the idea of humility in a linear fashion, we always miss the full import of the idea. In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote, For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him (Rom. 12:3)
Some over exaggerate what Paul is saying by calling anyone who thinks well of himself as being conceited. But that is not Paul’s point. Likewise, it is not God’s point—remember the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write this. No the point is that we always need to remember that no matter how good we really are at anything, there’s always someone of equal or great ability. The idea of conceit that Paul is addressing is our idea that we are better at some things—especially running our own lives–than is God.
Now, let’s look at this from God’s perspective for a few moments. First, none of us can even come within a country mile of God’s abilities, and yet He was willing to die on a cross so that we could become His children and share in His abilities. There was not, is not, nor ever will be any other way to become His children than the way he devised—through the cross (Acts 4:12). He set it all up for us and then carried out the plan to its full completion. All without input any from us. Imagine that. God can get along without us.
He wants, He desires, He longs for the opportunities to share His abilities with us, if only we will allow Him to. That’s the first lesson in humility. We need to realize that God’s abilities so far exceed our abilities that even the very best of the very best that we can do by ourselves is a nothing compared to what He is capable of doing. For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction] (Isa. 64:6).
Once we are ready to concede that God is so far beyond what we are ever capable of, or perhaps even capable of dreaming of, then we really need to take the concept to heart. Once that idea is firmly embedded in us, then we need to realize that God loves us exceedingly far beyond anything that we can imagine. Yes, we know God is love (1John 4:8, 16), and yes we understand that He loves us (Rom. 5:8). But do we really understand to what extent he loves us? Sure we can express all sorts of emotional clamor and parrot back what the scriptures say. But, has God’s love been allowed to rule in your life? Or, do you simply intellectualize and emotionalize it on Sunday morning? Have you allowed the Agape that He planted in you (Rom. 5:5) to grow, or do you keep it buried under the pressure of social correctness and personal embarrassment?
Allowing God’s Agape to manifest is necessary if we are truly humble because we can never be all that God wants us to be until we return His Agape love. That’s why we have it in us—so we can Agape love God. And when we do, He pours out blessing after blessing. No not cash. Blessings that help us to help others and make ourselves better able to carry out His call on our lives.
Of course, the third element is obedience, a word that makes us suddenly choke and seize up, unable to function. Obedience does not mean that we all have to jump on planes and boats and trains and rush off to Africa, China, (the good old US?), and other places that desperately need the Word of God. What obedience really means is that we trust God enough to allow Him to direct our lives, and then we simply do what He calls us to do. Oh boy. The tough one. Allow God to be totally in control? Hmmm, maybe on Sunday, but I have a job to do and a family to raise during the rest of the week. Just stay away and let me do my thing, I’ll give you your required one hour on Sunday, and a little token cash to assuage my guilt. Nope, not humble, rather very conceited. What is really being said is “I know more about how to run my life than You do.”
Well I got news for you. You don’t. True humility comes from acknowledging that God knows everything—even the secrets you keep from yourself, and certainly from others. It comes from saying, “Father, You are the Creator, and I am the created. Please help Your created being to become all You intend.” True humility is reflected in Jesus life. So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn] (John 5:19). I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me (John 5:30).
And we need to acknowledge what Jesus said about us, in this same regard. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing (John 15:5). Confessing this in absolute sincerity is the real beginning of true humility before God.