Humbleness, an Attribute of God

One of my favorite scripture passages is Matthew 11:28-30.  In this passage Jesus refers to himself as “gentle and humble in heart”.  Doesn’t gentle and humble sound safe.  I am drawn to him when I think of him being gentle and humble.  Paul supports Jesus’ statement that he is humble with this declaration in Philippians 2:6-8,

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Jesus not only declared himself humble, but he unequivocally demonstrates his humble nature on the cross.  When you think of God, do you think of him as humble?  That’s not my first thought when I think of God, but he truly is humble.  So, what is humble? In all the definitions of humble, I find that not putting yourself first seems to clarify its meaning.  Jesus did not put himself first.  He put our needs ahead of his.

Adam and Eve were humble because they were created in the image of God.  They lost this attribute as a result of the fall.  They then became self concerned.  At the start of Philippians chapter 2 Paul is exhorting us to return to being humble.  He tells us, (Philippians 2:3-4) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  He follows this with the scriptural illustration in Philippians 2:6-8 of Christ’s humility.

In our desire to be more like Jesus, humbleness should be near the top of the list.  As I looked at this attribute of God, I had to ask myself, am I gentle and humble in heart?  Am I safe for others?  These questions will dominate my self reflections for the rest of the week.  How about you?

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THE LORD OUR TEACHER

This week, I’m still gleaning from Psalm 25.  Verses 4 and 5 read, Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  And again in verses 8 and 9, Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.  God doesn’t leave us on our own.  Those who come to him he teaches.

As I read these four verses, I remember all that God has shown me through the years.  He has guided me, shown me his truth, instructed me in what is right, and taught me his ways.  He has indeed made life easier.  I say this because I remember how it was when I went my own way.  It was not easy, and it was not smooth.

Let me share an example with you.  When my children were young, I directed and corrected them as a father should.  When they became adults, I released my control of their lives to God.  He is really their father.   He taught me to surrender them to him.  This was hard to do, but very important.

Well it hasn’t gone as I would have planned, but I am very pleased with how things are turning out.  God has patiently worked in their lives.    God’s way is building fine adults that I am very proud of.  By staying out of God’s way, I have gained great relationships with my adult children.  I would never have known how to accomplish this, but God did.  All praise, honor, and glory are to our great God.  His ways are beyond our ways.

PSALM 25

(Psalm 25:1-2a)  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.

While reading Psalm 25, I recalled that this psalm, written by King David, was written approximately 3,000 years ago.  It stands out to me that the soul of man, and our relationship to God, is the same as it was those many years ago.  The truth about God and man has not changed.  King David knew that if we give ourselves fully into God’s trust, we will lead a blessed life.

Imagine starting every day with this declaration: I entrust my inmost being to you, Lord.  Meaning that all that I am or hope to be in this day, I give into your hands my God.

When I first awake in the morning, I lay there thinking of what the day will bring.  I can think it through, make a plan, and then do whatever preparations are needed. Or, I can entrust my being to God, and let him lead me through the day.  Which one would you think to be the most beneficial?

Whether 3,000 years ago or today, this life for us humans is about learning to trust God.  I believe it’s that simple, but I do recognize that trusting God is a lifelong pursuit.

WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME

I have always been fascinated by the revelation that God has a plan. This quote from Galatians 4:4, “When the time had fully come”, tells us that the timing of Jesus’ birth was planned.  Even today in the midst of our daily life, God’s plan is unfolding. 

I have been reading the Christmas story in the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel.   The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah in chapter 1 has captured my attention.  As you may recall, they were the parents of John the Baptist. The couple is introduced in verses 4-7.  Zechariah is a priest, and he and his wife Elizabeth are upright in the sight of God, yet they have been unable to have children.  They were both well along in years.

This couple apparently spent their time going about the daily processes of life.  In their daily life, they were faithful and trusted in God.  I’m sure they had prayed for a child, but they did not abandon God for his seeming failure to answer their prayers.

One day, “at the appointed time”, when Zechariah was ministering before the altar, an angel of the Lord appeared to him.  The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John…..”  How many times have you prayed for something and thought that your prayer wasn’t heard?  Maybe, it just wasn’t the right time. 

God has a plan that he is working out through history.  We only have a broad very general insight into his plan.  Each of God’s children has a part in his plan, but we usually aren’t sure how we fit in to his plan.  That is where trust and patience come into play.  Don’t lose heart; stay faithful.  God has a plan, you have a part in his plan, and in faith we know, God will execute the details of his plan when the time has fully come.

LIGHT

God loves us!  As he was preparing a place for us he first created light.  Light is incredible.  It sustains physical life, refracts into all the wonderful colors we see, and provides a contrast to darkness.  God designed a great place for us that is full of light.

Light is necessary for life to exist on earth.  The process of photosynthesis is the foundation for all food consumed by living creatures.  The light we receive from the sun provides the necessary heat the earth requires.  In light we find God’s provision for his created ones.

As light contacts various objects it refracts.  These refractions disperse the light into an amazing array of colors making the earth a beautiful place.  The colors we see calm us, delight us, and stimulate us.  Through light our creator has inspired us and made our lives full and interesting.

Light and its contrast darkness are used figuratively throughout the scriptures to help us understand God’s care for us.  We read in Psalm 18: 28 “God turns my darkness into light,” and Psalm 56:13 says that God provides the light of life.   Light provides a metaphor for virtue.  Light is righteousness and darkness is sinfulness.  Romans 13:12, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” 

Light has great importance in God’s creation.  Isaiah used light to predict the coming of Jesus, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).”  For us today that light has long since dawned.  We can now walk in the light.  I pray that His light will shine in your heart today, and that darkness will have no place in your heart.  Praise be to God for the wonders of light.

JUDGEMENT IS COMING

You frequently hear people ask how a loving God can allow all the evil in the world.  I would answer; a loving God demonstrates his love through patience.

 

The Apostle Peter tells us:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up (2Peter 3:8-10).

 

Just like the ancient Israelites, people think that God is not seeing what they are doing, so anything goes.  Then the day of judgement came for Israel. They were conquered and dispersed.  Therefore, we should not be lulled into complacency by his patience.  God is actively involved in all that transpires here on earth- patiently working through us for the redemption of lost souls.

 

The ultimate display of God’s love is through his son.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.”  He is allowing time for those who will receive his gift and avoid judgement. However, we should never forget that he has assigned a day of judgement.  God is patient, but the Day of the Lord will come.

BE MERCIFUL

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

 Jude 22-23

 

The Church, the Body of Christ, has throughout the ages frequently missed the basic tenet of being merciful.    On the other hand the Church has been an instrument of mercy in society since its beginning.  It’s been a mixed bag.  In Luke 6:35-36 Jesus says,

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

God has shown us mercy, and he desires us to be merciful.  I believe our ability to be merciful depends on our ability to receive mercy.  Humility is the key.

 

To receive mercy, I must first recognize my need for mercy.  When I know that I have sinned against God, there is then the recognition of the debt I owe to God.  Secondly, I need to humble myself and become aware that there is nothing I can do to repay this debt.  God is willing and has made the way to grant me mercy by forgiving my debt.  I don’t have to work for it.  It’s free.  That is hard for me because in my pride I want to do something to earn forgiveness.  However, by holding on to this idea of earning forgiveness, I will never even understand mercy.

 

Now you can see why it’s a mixed bag for the Church.  Our pride often gets in the way.  In Matthew 9:13 Jesus says to the Pharisees, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”  And again in 12:7, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”  The Pharisees were caught up in a ritual of sacrifice that fed their pride allowing them to condemn others rather than show them mercy.  They were trying to pay their debt to God on their own merit.  They were blinded by pride and did not understand mercy.   Therefore, they could not extend mercy.

 

Mercy proceeds from a humble, forgiving heart.  This is God’s nature and his heart toward us.  By surrendering my will to God and allowing myself to be forgiven, I take the first step in understanding mercy.  I feel the burden of gilt lifted and the exhilaration of being free.  But, I must remember that I’m free and not fall prey to the lie that I must do something for this freedom.  That lie feeds my pride.  I must remain humble. Then in humble gratitude, I live under God’s mercy.  A life that is continually bathed in mercy emanates mercy.