Posts Tagged humility

Healed and Whole

2 Chronicles 7: 14

If My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

When you read the verses which precede this one you understand that God is saying, “In your time of need, if you will call out to Me and seek Me then I will hear and restore you.” This verse comes from the point of need, the time of trouble, so the first point I would make is how much more does this apply when we don’t have our backs to the wall because of our sin, recklessness or error.

The major point, though, is that God is standing at the ready when we finally get around to calling on Him. One can see the situation unfold like this, we have run around doing our own thing, ignoring God and have not sought His counsel. The result is inevitable – trouble. All the while God was sitting on His phone watching and waiting for us to call. He says, “Look, if you will just inquire of Me, I will fix everything. I will lead you in the way you should go and I will repair the damage your ignorance created.” That is amazing to me. This is the exact opposite of the world which says, “You made the bed, now sleep in it,” which of course means, you made the mess so deal with it. God is ever ready to rescue us, even from the calamity of our own making. He actually wants to heal and restore you.

Let’s talk about “your land” for a moment. The verse refers to God healing His people’s land. The Bible is a historical record and a living document at the same time. Therefore, this verse represents not only God’s promise to Israel, which would have been the application at the time it was spoken, but it also applies to you and me through the living Word, Jesus our Messiah. You see, if it was just a dead letter, it would only show us His response to Israel. However, we know that Jesus is the Word (John 1: 1). He has breathed new life into the Old Testament for everyone who calls him Lord. That has got to make you want to shout! All those Old Testament promises, like the one from today’s verse are yours in Christ Jesus. Yea!

You are His people who are called by His name. That is the first element of this verse. What are the others? Humility, prayer, seeking and repentance. If we will humbly seek Him and pray, turning away from our ways, He will respond with all His grace and love to heal your world. Your land may be your home, your work, business, health, finances, family or any other area. It can also apply to the country you live in or are from.  They are all under God’s grace when you invite Him in through humility, seeking His face and His advice. Find that quiet space in your life and seek the Lord and His counsel. Be whole. Be blessed!

Pride, Advice and Wisdom

Proverb 13: 10               NIV

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Among the unpopular topics of the day, this must be one. We have become a proud, arrogant people who value our own opinions above all others and rarely will lower ourselves to receive advice from anyone, even God. We don’t inquire of the Lord because we are smart enough ourselves. Hasn’t God given us wisdom? He has given us brains for a reason, right?

I have observed us become smarter than our doctors, smarter than our lawyers and smarter than our pastors. While no one is perfect and no one except the Spirit has all the answers, surely some people know better than we on some subjects. We have become so prideful that we do not wish to hear advice or even teaching. Learning should be a lifelong process. I heard it said one time that as soon as you stop learning, you die. The point is not that you die physically but rather the person within you begins to decay. How shall we continue to learn when we are unwilling to bow to the expertise of another? Even though the Bible is packed with the wisdom of God, Christians don’t value it very highly. We certainly are not clawing for wisdom. We worship the Bible itself but not the content.

We don’t want to be told what to do, we don’t want to be under the authority of another. To listen to the counsel of another is to raise them above us, and that we will not have. I think, “God, save me from myself,” but perhaps what I should pray is, “Father, save me from my pride.” How do we change this tendency in ourselves, much less in our culture? If we do not humbly seek our God, then how will we be able to receive the wisdom He gives others for us? We talk often about our cultural woes and bemoan how our nations are becoming less godly, but I think people have other things in mind when they decry the current state of the culture. This issue, though, is more dangerous to the fabric of our culture than some of the things people would cite. We need to understand which issues are merely symptoms and which are causes. Pride would seem to be a root cause. In fact, I believe it is embodied in the Ten Commandments in which God told us to have no gods, no idols before Him. Our arrogance lifts us up above God which is the original sin. Satan thought he was as smart as God and his insolence shook heaven. God cast him and all of his cronies out because of his insolence. Then man was silly enough to listen to the devil and elevate himself to godlike status. That is what caused man to eat of the forbidden tree.

Pride certainly does breed quarrels. It won’t allow us to listen to anyone’s thoughts so each person vies for the floor which causes friction. Wisdom awaits those who enable themselves to receive instruction. The question, though, is how to we train our egos to allow advice? What is needful? Perhaps we should throw ourselves at the feet of Christ and ask his advice?

Wisdom is for those who take advice. Therefore, seek wisdom. Inquire of God but also allow yourself to be led by those who have gone before you. If you don’t have anyone who knows more than you, you need some new friends. There is guidance available for those who will humble themselves. I pray that we all can learn this valuable life lesson.  Please think about, or even meditate on, today’s verse and email us with your thoughts.  What can we do to right this ship?  Thank you.

God is . . . not arrogant

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

It is interesting that love is known not only for what it is but also for what it is not. It can be hard to describe what love is but we all understand the imagery suggested by what love is not. Still, you may be a little surprised that “not arrogant” is included in a description of love. So, what does arrogance look like and how does that contrast with love?
Some synonyms for arrogance are: conceit, haughtiness, egotism, and superiority. None of these sound like God. Our Father is not one to brag or self-promote. Love puts other people in first position and that is what God does. Also, arrogance comes often in comparison. Behaving in a superior or haughty manner is often more about putting someone else down in order to elevate oneself. God has no need to build Himself up. There is no one like God; no one even to compare with Him.

Truly there is no room for arrogance in love. Love shouldn’t be self-effacing but it should be modest, putting the love of the other person ahead of selfish, arrogant aims. Because God is love, His first thought is always about you. This is true. He isn’t worrying about Himself. He is fine and He is secure. Everything He has ever done, everything He does is for your welfare. He is not prideful, arrogant or boastful. He is kind, modest, meek and gentle. He is not out to prove how great He is or even to have you constantly bowing and kowtowing to Him. He made you a child. You are His beloved. There is no room for prideful or arrogant expression in true love. Love is not arrogant and thus neither is God.

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.

Give a Care

1 Peter 5: 6 – 7

Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Do you find it curious that God put a humility directive in the same sentence that He commands us to cast all of our care upon him? I do. As I ponder this, though, it strikes me that perhaps it is not so odd as one might first think. What do you think is the main reason we do not cast our care upon the Lord? Could it be that our own arrogance, our independence prevents us from giving our worries to the Lord? 

Many of us have frequently used the expression, “Take care”. Though I have said it many times myself, I find I have a growing aversion to the expression. First of all, it is unscriptural. It is in direct disobedience to the Word of God. God said to cast all your care onto Him. Give it to Him in other words. So, for us to go around saying, “Take care” is to encourage people to defy the Word of God. Okay, I know we all mean it in a kind way but sooner or later we have to grow enough in the things of the Spirit that we don’t defy God even in well intentioned ways.

Let me give you the big revelation that dropped on me recently. Have you heard the term “caregiver”? Caregivers are people who care for others. They are so selfless and noble. I so admire the people who are gifted in this area. I think so much of the great, and I do mean great, people of Hospice care. Someone asked me where people like them come from and without pausing I said, “They must fall right out of heaven.” I am honored to say I am a care receiver, that I was blessed to be a beneficiary of the kindness of these wonderful people. It gave me a whole new revelation on “take care” though. In fact, it now makes those words choke in my throat. How can I tell someone to take care now after what I have seen of those who devote their lives to caring for others? Now I want to say, “give care.” Let us not be takers. Let us be givers. And I just wonder if this isn’t part of the reason God told us to give our care to him. When we are free of our burdens, then we can give to others.

We have been selfish y’all, I worst of all. We have been arrogant and self-centered. I pray that you will take today’s devotional to heart and meditate on what God would teach us on this point if we could open our hearts to instruction. We were put here to be caregivers. Have no thought for your worries. Give them to God and free your hands to bless others.

Putting on the Ritz

Colossians 3: 12 – 13

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

We are the chosen of God. We have been adopted into the family of God by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and we are now joint heirs with Abraham. We are holy and beloved. Therefore, God wants us to walk in a manner worthy of our high calling. We are to put on the character of Jesus and walk in Him and in the manner of his calling on us. Our lives should be typified by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. For these are the characteristics of Christ himself and the life we now live we live in Him. If anyone is lacking in any of these attributes, he should ask of the Lord Jesus and he who gives all freely will anoint you with all you need so that you might also walk in all the grace which he has poured out on mankind. It is a high calling to walk in this kind of grace and fellowship. It is the high calling of Jesus on our lives. So put on Christ and be transformed.

The Wise Follower

Hebrews 13: 7

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

On two occasions the Apostle Paul encouraged people to imitate him. The first occurrence is in 1 Corinthians 4: 16 where he wrote, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.” I find that remarkable. What kind of confidence does it take to tell people to examine your life and imitate it? Isn’t that exactly what today’s verse teaches though? The second time Paul instructs people to follow him by imitating his life is in 1 Corinthians 11: 1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” The key is in the last phrase. He was confident in his following of Christ. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” he might say.

No one walks this journey alone. There is no such thing as a self-made person. We all stand upon someone else’s shoulders. The wise among us are better at this than the rest of us. They don’t let their ego inhibit their growth. For some people, advancing on the journey is more important than trying to be their own leader. There is an expression in legal circles that an attorney who represents himself in litigation has a fool for a client. The same sort of wisdom can be applied to our spiritual journey. Only a fool would nominate himself as his own leader. How can I lead myself where I have not yet gone?

I am increasingly aware of and impressed by the number of times the Bible addresses humility. It is one of the overarching principles in the Bible. Humility goes with honor. Pride is associated with one’s destruction (Proverb 16: 18). Pride is often joined with foolishness while humility is the hallmark of the wise.   The reason this is important is that the number one reason we do not submit to another’s leadership is ego. If we can embrace humility, then we can benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

There are people in the body of Christ who have been appointed as leaders and they bear a tremendous burden because they have been given the responsibility for leading the flock. Having been appointed to positions of leadership has not made them perfect but still they lead the way for us. As today’s verse teaches, we are able to consider the result of their conduct, which is the same as beholding their fruit. If the fruit is good then humble yourself and receive the benefit of their instruction. 

I want you to be a follower even if you have been chosen as a leader because only good followers make good leaders. I do want you to be wise in who you follow though. Let us look again at today’s verse. Beyond being a person who bears good fruit they also must be one who speaks the Word of God to you. I don’t care how wise or how awesome they seem, if their advice is worldly then they are deceived and will soon lead you in to deception. And by now we all know who the author of deception is. Paul intones, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” In like manner we might say, “Follow this advice which I have received from the Lord Jesus.” We also should follow those who are following Christ. There is no one of this earth who can give us wisdom that eclipses that of God. So, why would we listen to those fools? And yet we do. In plain language let us be clear. Do not take financial advice from someone who does not tithe. Do not take relationship advice from someone who does not have a deep and abiding relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Do not take business advice from someone who has not made Christ the Lord over their business. We have learned what happens when we follow worldly fiscal and business advice. We end up in an upside down economy such as we experienced in 2008 and the years following.

Lastly, I wish to strongly encourage you to honor those who are leading you. Read today’s verse again. Who does it bring to your mind? Who has spoken the Word of God to you? Of course our pastors spring to our minds and I wish for you to show them honor and gratitude because theirs is a difficult job to say the least. Perhaps there are some other people who have given you the benefit of their walk with the Lord. Hearken to their voice and bless them however you may.