Humility and Grace

Proverb 3: 34            The Voice

God treats the arrogant as they treat others, mocking the mockers, scorning the scornful, but He pours out His grace on the humble.

Yesterday’s proverb spoke about the arrogant person, that they stir up strife and that failure follows in their wake. Today we find this explanation. God abhors the arrogant. Wow! That is a bit frightening. He, Yahweh, scorns the scorners and mocks the mockers. Therefore, being scornful, arrogant or mocking others sets us up in opposition to God, a very frightening position to be in. If you look at the footnotes for this verse in the NLV Bible, you find the Greek version of this verse. It reads, “The Lord opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. So, this verse reveals that God gives favor to the humble. Grace is that intangible blessing that follows you around making life click into place a bit better. God’s favor affects other people so that they see you and treat you as a VIP. Humility gives us what arrogance cannot. We can posture and act big trying to get people to treat us as important, but it is actually humility which yields that kind of favor. The minute we begin thinking or behaving as if we deserve it or that we really are special, it dissolves. A person can be humble at church and see the favor of God blessing them but act arrogantly at work and find that the grace just isn’t there.

Humility is not being a doormat for others. Sometimes we think it is. Humility is best understood in the scope of worthiness. In ourselves we were not worthy of God’s love or Jesus’ sacrifice, but Jesus has made us absolutely worthy, in him. We can be humble in our greatness because we know that it has nothing to do with our strength, skills or intelligence. Any gifts we have are from God. When we set our eyes upon Him and this truth, we can stand very tall in the fullness of God’s greatness understanding that we are here because Father decreed it and Jesus bought it. If your Father gives you a position, one you didn’t earn, you still get the position but perhaps you wouldn’t be so arrogant knowing that it is only by His grace that you stand in royal shoes.

God wants to shower His favor upon everyone. Truly, He wants everyone to be treated as someone special. We, however, either opt in or opt out of His plan. Interestingly, thinking we deserve it or that we are more special than others opts us out. Knowing that we are deserving as long as we stand in Jesus’ victory keeps us rooted. This is the great dichotomy which confuses so many. We are the unworthy worthy ones. We earned nothing, deserved nothing but as long as we are in Jesus – standing and abiding in him, we are kings. You have to know that you are deserving but humble because you know your worthiness is only in Jesus.

Arrogance is for the fool. The favor of God and man is for those who humbly receive all that God has for them.

Humbly Led

Psalm 25: 9

He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.
You can hang out in the twenty-fifth psalm for a long time. There is much nourishment for the soul here. So how did I choose verse nine? I am often attracted to the verses that promise God will lead me in His paths. I want to know His ways and walk according to His instruction. One of my very favorite verses, in fact, is in this psalm. Verse 4 is a prayer, “Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.” This is a psalm of David. By the time, he reaches verse 9 he has switched into teaching mode. He has gone from request to assurance. David knew that prayer to our benevolent Father results in answers. Therefore, he confidently assures us that our God and Father will lead us onto the divine pathway.

There is a stumbling block here, though, and that is what caused me to stop on this verse. There is a humility requirement. Perhaps, Father does not lead me as much as He might because I am so impressed with my own wisdom. Maybe, just maybe, my arrogance and independence prevents me from walking in His ways as well as I could. I wonder.

As you continue through this psalm, you discover that God’s instruction and guidance is for those who revere Him. Perhaps some of us get so caught up in trying to come up with answers that we never actually humble ourselves before the Lord and ask for His wisdom. And you know something else? Sometimes you don’t even have to ask. I find that if I will quiet myself down, He will offer His guidance free of charge. Maybe it doesn’t seem like arrogance for me to work so hard searching for answers but if we are truly humble and we revere the Lord won’t we allow Him to speak to our needs and questions? What is it, if not pride, when we are so caught up in our thinking that we do not appeal to His wisdom? Is this not putting our own intellect and problem solving skills on the throne?

We have a promise from the Lord that He will lead us and teach us His way. Let’s make ourselves available for Him to fulfil that promise in us.

Are You Kidding Me God?

1 Peter 3: 8-9

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

We really need to get this message and by “we” I mean “me”. Time and time again Jesus taught us to give a blessing when others curse and persecute us. There really isn’t much that is harder than to bless some that is a thorn in your flesh, the bane of your existence. It seems like God is being unfair with us and that he is asking the impossible of us. Well, two things about that. First, he is asking the impossible. You probably cannot do this in your own strength. I know I cannot. But “Let the weak say, ‘I am strong’” (Joel 3: 10). When it is impossible to you, then you have to allow His power to work through you. Secondly, God is not trying to get something from you. He is trying to get something to you. Look at the last sentence. God often requires things from us. We need to get it in our heads that he does so in order that we may receive a blessing. He needs us to cooperate with Him so that he can get the blessing into our lives. When will we just learn to trust him? When will we believe that he is a good God and that he wants to bestow good on us? You were called for that very purpose, that God may show you the exceeding goodness of himself in Christ Jesus. So forgive others. Do not get into strife no matter how much the other person tempts you. Meet annoyance and persecution with blessing. Be humble and harmonious no matter how difficult. Through this God’s purpose in the world comes.

Sage Advice?

1 Peter 3: 8

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.

Are you ever surprised by some of the verses in the Bible? Take today’s verse for example. I don’t really picture Peter instructing us in this way. This is the guy that actually walked on the water afterall. Shouldn’t he be teaching us about faith? Instead, he teaches us to be sympathetic. Really? That surprises me. Then he wrote that we should be humble in spirit. What does that mean? He, of all the disciples, was full of bravado and fervor. I mean, which of us would jump out of the boat just because we saw Jesus?

I am almost flabbergasted that this zealous disciple would write such a “soft” directive to us. Do you think, perhaps, that the fanatical Peter got a revelation as he matured in the things of Christ? He had his choice of what to write and yet he did not write instructions on how to walk on water, or did he? Could it be that he learned that the harmonious life of compassion and humility in spirit is the spring board to the supernatural? In a way that makes perfect sense to me because for many of us to live harmoniously, sympathetically, brotherly, kindheartedly and humble is anything but “natural”. Just living that way would be SUPERnatural. And maybe, just maybe, that lifestyle is the pathway to walking on water.

Meditate on this verse this week and note what comes up in your spirit as you do. Peter has sage advice for us, advice which will undoubtedly set us apart. Could it also contain the secret to victorious living in Christ? I will let you decide.