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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

God is almost never limited by our lack.

We can lack money and yet God can provide the means for whatever He calls us to do.  My thoughts run to a little boy with two fish and five loaves on a remote hillside with Jesus and a crowd of thousands, hungry after a day of teaching and healing.

We can lack strength and yet Paul passes on what Jesus said to Him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor 12:9)

We can lack intellect, but God can still use us.  I have been in a number of situations where I did not know “the answer” and yet the answer has always come.

But I realized the other day that there is one definite lack on our part that can constrain God… the lack of humility!  The lack of humility is powerful, ugly, and spiritually deadly.

There is value in specifically saying “lack of humility” and not simply calling it pride.  Being proud of your children, your country, your church can all stray into an unhealthy region, but for the most part these do not capture the attitude that the bible means when it says in a number of places, “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6).  The lack of humility is that kind of proud.  It is a cancer that sucks the life out of relationships, beginning with our relationship with the Father.

God loves us and He wants us to live in intimacy with Him.  The level of intimacy God desires is predicated upon mutual love, trust, and honesty.  Coming clean about every aspect of our life – from acts done or not done, words uttered or not uttered, even thoughts we’ve harbored requires a humility and honesty that does not come easily to us.  In fact it often requires a degree of divine support to achieve.  But He is near to us to lend us this help if we but bend our hearts toward Him in humility.

As I consider what this humility looks like several pictures come to mind.  A child listening in rapt attention and a teachable spirit… a parent returning from deployment falling on their knees and embracing their family… a “terminally” ill patient who is given a new lease on life.  God is the giver of all good gifts.  As He gives what He desires (which is always better than what we deserve) we should recognize the opportunity to give thanks and receive with humility all that the Lord wants for us.  Often, it is in these moments that He will speak wisdom into our lives that we can’t hear otherwise.

This morning I awoke with a very clear picture of what the lack of humility looks like.  It is one of the formational stories of the nation of Israel and it is found in the 2nd book of the bible, Exodus.  What had begun as a flight to sanctuary at the end of the Genesis had become servitude and slavery 400 years later.  The Pharaoh’s government had become a hard task-master and the people of Israel were crying out for deliverance.  God raised up Moses to serve as His human voice.  The message to Pharaoh was simple, “Let my people go.”  But Pharaoh, who was considered a god in that culture, refused.  Time and again God sent signs of His power and authority to convince Pharaoh and give Him the opportunity to bend His will to the Lord Almighty.  But Pharaoh would not.  The bible says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

Friends, this is a vital spiritual truth.  The longer and harder we resist the Lord, the more difficult it becomes to respond to Him.  It is not that God’s love is not there nor is it that He won’t accept us.  The issue is that until we are humble enough to acknowledge that He is God and we are not, we can’t bend our knee to Him and submit to the foundational truth of faith that God is the great “I AM”, the wholly, Holy Other.  While I am thrilled that my heavenly Father loves me and desires to fellowship with me, it never changes the fact that He is the LORD God Almighty, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

The lack of humility can keep a person from accepting Christ, God’s provision to reconcile fallen humans with Himself.  But it can also rear it’s ugly head after conversion and stifle the spiritual growth the Lord intends for His children.  When I consider my faith walk, I can see how the lack of humility was a key factor in many of the lulls.

The message of today’s post is simple.  Take a moment to examine your life.  Do you have a deficit of humility that is limiting your relationship with God and others?  Are you thankful for the small gifts of grace you receive or are you disappointed because you feel slighted in some way?  Is God actively speaking to you and using you for positive change or is it quiet when you call out to Him?  If any of these answers make you realize that you have a deficit of humility, congratulations! Recognizing this is the hardest step.  Turn to God with your whole heart, acknowledge your sin (if you haven’t already figured it out, the lack of humility is a sin), accept His Lordship over you, and begin to walk in fresh fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

The limits of our intellect do not in any way limit God’s ability to use us.  The limits of our humility constrain how, and how much God can work in and through us.  Choose humility and throw off those constraints.  Reach for the Father’s hand and talk a walk with the One Who loves you to the uttermost.  You will be so happy that you did.

Be blessed my friend and be a blessing to those the Lord puts in your life today.

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Humility is a virtue much esteemed by God.  James 4:6 tells us that : “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  The problem with humility is that it leaves no room for selfishness, self-centeredness, and pride – traits that are natural and easy.  Humility is an essential virtue for us to live in right relation with God and with our fellow-man.  Jesus summed up the law in two love commandments.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”  An inordinate self-love is an obstacle to this all out love for God and others.  Interestingly, as we grow to love God and others more we come to the place where we see ourselves as God sees us.  We develop an appropriate love for ourselves which is not based upon some caricature the world, the flesh, or the devil tries to get us to accept. 

I have a true story that illustrates how the process of humility can be worked out.  I am in my early 50’s now.  A few years ago as I was nearing 50 I took my wife, our then 15-year-old son and a friend of his to Table Rock mountain for a day of hiking.  We set out to summit the mountain about noon.  The sign at the bottom indicated that we needed 5 hours for the hike.  Since it was early spring we could do it, but we would be getting down back to the parking area pretty close to dark.  I told the boys that we might have to hurry at times which to them sounded like fun.  My wife chose not to climb the mountain with us.  Something about the look in my eye when I said we might have to hurry discouraged her participation.

I took my nice digital SLR camera because I enjoy photography.  Up the trail we went.  The boys took me literally as we alternately jogged and walked our way to the top of the mountain.  The view from the top was spectacular and we stayed  close to an hour taking pictures and eating lunch.  When we started back down the boys again slipped into “hurry mode” and began jogging and hiking.  Actually it was more of a run than a jog.  As the boys picked up speed and added distance between us I was forced to run to keep up.  On at least three occasions as I was running, holding my fairly large camera to keep it safe, the thought ran through my head… “I’ve still got it… I can still move great… Dan’s still the man!”  I distinctly remember thinking this as I bounded from the top of one boulder to another boulder to another.  And for each of those three times the verse from the Old Testament would quickly follow in a gentle whisper – “Pride goes before the fall.”  Now I have to admit something here that I have not mentioned in the numerous renditions of this story with my family.  Each of those times I slowed down.  Not because I was truly worried about myself, but because I thought of the possible damage I would do to my camera. 

About halfway down the mountain the boys started to get some separation from me… and that bothered me.  At one point a couple of young girls – about 11 – 13 years old I guessed stepped into the trail in front of me and started walking slowly down the mountain chatting about boys and such.  Did I mentioned how ssslllooowwwllllyyyyyy they were walking?  While I could hear the boys at first the sound of their noisy dash down the mountain grew fainter and fainter.  And I was growing more and more impatient.  Finally my chance came as the trail split around a tree.  As the girls took the left side of the tree I accelerated to pass them on the right side.  I thought I would be polite and say, “Girls, I’m passing on the right”, but all I got out was “Gir…” as my toe hooked a rock and I started into my fall.  You know how people describe a traumatic experience where everything goes into slow motion.  Well the fall was kind of like that.  I realized that I was taking a tumble and there was no way I was going to get my feet under me.  I thought of my camera, I thought of how silly I must look, I thought “why am I running down a mountain?”  

For a moment I was tumbling and suddenly I was stopped in a pile of numbness on the ground.  I remember slowly standing up and feeling the buzz of adrenalin.  My first thought was my camera… did I break it?  I knew that my immediate reaction as I began to fall was to pull it in and protect it with my body.  As I am inspecting my camera the girls had come up.  “Mister are you awright?”  “Mister can we hep you?”  “Are you OK, mister?”  A quick inventory told me my camera was probably okay.  The fact that I was now standing told me that the pain in my leg was probably not a broken bone although it was a huge Charley horse.  The girls pointed out that I had broken something – my nice Costa Del Mar sunglasses that were hanging crookedly across my face.  “Mister can we do anything for ya?”  To which I replied, “Yeah, please call those boys and ask them to come back.” 

As I continued to take an inventory of where I hurt, I heard one of the girls walk over to the edge where the mountain drops steeply down and yell, “Yo, Yo Dogs – The OLD Guy Needs You!”  So if the fall, the broken glasses, and the multiple pains were not bad enough, then the OLD Guy phrase really made an excellent point of the whole Pride is Not My Friend message of the day.  But things were not over.  The boys came, helped me get going and them promptly headed down the mountain at a rapid pass again.  There was no more running down the mountain for me.  Actually there was barely limping down the mountain.

Now I have a running line that I share with people that I once prayed for humility and the next day I met my future wife.  It is a joke that brings a chuckle on most occasions.  Lisa is a bright woman the Lord has used greatly to help mold and shape my life.  On this particular day it appeared that God really wanted to drive the whole Pride is a Bad Thing point home with forcefulness.  As I hobbled up to the car Lisa was in the passenger seat.  I came up to her side and asked if she could drive.   Her chuckle became all out laughter as the boys shared the story with her.  And the story has become one of the family favorites when we get together.  Lisa’s friend in Louisiana always refers to me as “the OLD guy” now, never my real name.  Oh well, I am sure the reminder is a positive thing even if I do come out looking silly.

My father had a heart attack in his early 50″s.  I remember his first words to me as I walking into the hospital CICU room with him connected to various monitors and IV’s.  “Son, I am so glad the Lord will do whatever it takes to get my attention.”  Today, I have to echo that sentiment.  I wish I learned my lessons simply by reading about them, but sometimes it takes more.  Our Father knew that and He provided a lesson in humility for me that continues to resonate to this day.  Thank You Lord for all You have done, even when it hurts!

Have a blessed day and be a blessing!

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