The Importance of Humility
Article taken from Fatherly Talk
In this modern age of pomp and display, rights and power, fame and publicity, it is very easy for people to forget that to God and to all that are in the Spiritual World the character of humility and love is highly valued above all other values. It is even valued higher than knowledge and wisdom. For only humility attracts the loving attention of God whereas pride, which is opposite of humility, attracts the severe dealings of God. God will always resist the proud and give grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
Why do humans want to feel proud when every one of us came into the world with nothing? Those born rich or powerful have nothing to boast for everything they had is only circumstantial. Those who achieve what they have and are also have nothing to boast for along the way they would have been helped both by men and angels to be where they are. Thus those born with privilege circumstances and those who earn their privilege circumstances have nothing to boast. Deep within each human heart there is a distaste of those who are proud and haughty. Such distaste does not just come naturally but it is also the same distaste that angels feel towards pride. There are angelic watchers over all of earth’s powers, whether it be powers of wealth, authority or fame. The ruler of the empire that the Bible pictured as the golden empire was Nebuchadnezzar and even he was humbled when he became proud (Daniel 4). It was pride when Belshazzar took the holy vessels of the temple to drink his wine (Daniel 5). It was pride when Herod accepted the adulation of the people calling him god (Acts 12:22). It was pride when Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses (Numbers 12:1-2). It was to ease his wounded pride that Saul ask Samuel to turn back with him (1 Samuel 15:30-31). It was pride and recognition that Ananias and Sapphira sought when they lied about their offering (Acts 5:1-10). It was pride that led the Pharisees to make known their charity, their long prayers and their fasts (Matthew 6:1-18). They loved long robes, greetings in the market places, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts (Luke 20:46).
We might look at the Pharisees in the Bible and laugh at their foolishness for now all that they have and are have passed away for they missed the best opportunity to know the riches of eternity by coming to Jesus when He was manifest. What about the modern churches and ministers? Have we replaced the long robes with our liturgy and long robes; the greetings in market places with worldly fame; the best seats in the synagogues with membership to exclusive clubs and the best places at feasts by hob knobbing with the rich, the famous and the influential? How do you explain the desire of Christians to have luxury items, drive the best cars, join the best clubs and have the best of all things? Let me make it clear that I don’t think everyone who owns a good car, lives in a mansion or owns luxurious things are necessarily proud for there are good and humble people who have all these things and it does not bother them. The test is whether anyone of these feel ashamed if they were to be seen in a beat-up old car, or sleep at a manger once in a while, or go feed the poor in a soup kitchen.
Most Christians cannot handle wealth and fame and the moment they have either or both of these, pride starts creeping in and they subconsciously do things to that flaunt their success. God help us if success is only measured in dollars, cars, bricks and mortar. These are not measurements of success at all. True success is measured in one’s growth in love and in godliness. At the same time, we also need to educate Christians to be comfortable with wealth and not feel guilty when God blesses them with the stewardship of it. Jesus was both comfortable with wealth as He was with poverty. It made no difference to Jesus whether He was talking to the elite in society at the feasts or the poor on the streets. The key to handling wealth, fame and power is to know that one is only a steward of God for these areas. We take back nothing from the earth except for our character development in handling these things. We must not swing to one extreme such that we are afraid or guilty of being wealthy, famous or powerful; or to the other opposite of being pro-luxury in all things such that we forget the poor, the unknown and the powerless. It is pride when one flaunts one’s wealth, fame or power before others.
There is also another hidden pride which can be as dangerous as the outwardly show of pride. That is the pride of intellect, the pride of self-sufficiency, the pride of selfishness that can be displayed even in poverty, the pride of self achievement and the pride of self independence. There is no end to the many possible human ways of displaying hidden pride but all of them have common denominators and manifestation: the prideful person is selfish, uncaring, unloving, unteachable, rebellious, unsubmissive, a lone-ranger. We can judge whether a person has pride or humility by whether the person has all the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:22, 23). All the works of the flesh stem from pride: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like (Galatians 5:19-21). Yes, all sin stems from pride. Sometimes, it is this hidden pride that is more dangerous and subtle than those with outward pride which can be seen by all. For the one with hidden pride can even think of themselves as being humble. When one is conscious that one is humble, one is no longer humble.
We have shown through the above that all of us have pride and it is not a question of whether we are proud or not, we all are and need to learn the art of humbling ourselves before God every day to keep us humble. If up to this sentence you cannot admit your pride but only sees pride in others, then only God can show you in eternity and you might have to face the consequences of God resisting you for the rest of your life. It is time for repentance. We all suffer from pride for to be self aware in itself gives us a consciousness separate from God. If we no occasion for natural pride, then we might have spiritual pride or soul pride. Pride can come in through being proud of the body and all things in the natural environment, through being proud of things in our soul and its qualities that we have or have developed, or through being proud of things spiritual or religious. And all pride must be dealt with. The Bible tells us to humble ourselves and before we can do it, we need to first realize that we need to humble ourselves. If we don’t think that we have to, we are on dangerous ground. Dying to self is a daily event and not just some old event in our past (1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Luke 9:23).
The lesson of humility is one of the most difficult to learn but yet it is the lesson that rewards its learner with great blessings both natural and spiritual. God loves to exalt those who are humble to positions of wealth, fame and power (Daniel 2:20-22; 4:17). The problem is not God exalting or promoting a humble person; the problem is in the ability to keep the position God gives. Almost every human being fails once they have received God’s promotion. Saul forgot totally that it was God who made him a king. He spent his entire life trying to preserve his position of wealth, fame and power by his own hand. He died a failure both in the natural and in God’s sight. There are the rare human beings who receive exaltation and keep themselves humble. Of such, is the prophet Daniel who succeeded because he was a man of prayer who learnt to bow his knees to God three times a day (Daniel 6:10). If you have never bowed your knees before God or have not done so in a long time, do so for it helps to put us in the position of submission to God. The word 『worship’ in the Greek (proskuneo) contains the meaning of bowing down and prostrating before God (Matthew 8:10; 9:18; 14:33; Revelation 5:14). All will bend their knees and worship Jesus as Lord in eternity. We might as well get used to bowing down on our knees while on earth (Philippians 2:10). Of course, we do know that people can outwardly bow to Him but their hearts are not humble, thus it is more important to be humble in our heart. Humility of heart will produce humility of action.
The whole New Testament period is the dispensation of grace. And the key to all grace is humility (1 Peter 5:5). Even though grace and knowledge is multiplied by the knowledge of Christ and God (2 Peter 1:2), the fact is that we can never know Christ and God without God’s help and revelation (Luke 10:21-22). We cannot even do any works except the works of grace that He has prepared beforehand that we could walk in them (Ephesians 2:9-10). And let us never forget that the works that God has given us to do are given because of His loving kindness, His riches mercy and love towards us (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Progressive life in the natural and in God consists of up-curves followed by plateaus. The plateaus are periods of consolidation and learning. Some people plateau-out and never progress any further either naturally or spiritually. Others lived and died without even entering the first phase of their lives destined by God. All up-curves are not humanly achieved, they are done through the grace of God that imparts a new and higher dimension of understanding, revelation, empowerment or gifting that takes us to the next level. Each up-curve is preceded by a period of pruning in which we are humbled as all the old fruitful branches are trimmed away so that we can produce even more fruit (John 15:1-3). Pruning is the work of God humbling us. Moses did not achieve his status as the meekest man on earth overnight (Numbers 12:3). He had gone through the wilderness for forty years; he had died to his calling and vision such that he spoke of his former oratory in broken terms of his inability; he had died to all ambition that he had formerly when he asked God to send another person; he had constantly been challenged rebellious ones and exercised great patience with the ungrateful Israelites. Like a rough stone washed smooth over years and decades of flowing waters, his pride has been dealt with numerous times until by the time Aaron and Miriam challenged his calling, he remained humbled.
We are who we are because of God. We can be what we want to be because of God. We receive all the help we have because of God. God is the source, the strength and the only one who has helped us from start to finish. He gave us life, created us, gifted us and allowed us to participate in His Will. Let us be grateful to God and always walk a daily life of humility before Him. Pride comes before a fall but promotion comes before great exaltation.
Let us humble ourselves before God on our knees each day and learn that without Him, we are absolutely nothing (John 15:5).
In Christ Jesus
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