The Lifestyle of Humility
Excerpt Taken from Fatherly Talk
The Lifestyle of Humility
Having analysed various areas and people of humility in the Bible, we look at the application of humility in our daily lives. There are always differences of methodology between the humble and the proud. Jesus is the full personification of what the way of humility is. He chose the birth in the manger, chose to live humbly in a carpenter family when he could have been born to the elite or to royalty. He was an expert in all the Scriptures even at age twelve but chose not to be identified among the educated Pharisees but rather was identified among the working class; himself working as a carpenter until the age of thirty. When He ministered in His home town, people familiar with His natural life questioned how a carpenter could be the Messiah (Mark 6:2). Throughout His ministry, He had the upper class included among His followers but He is more known to associate with the common people and despised people (Luke 7:34). At His death on the cross for us, He was hung among thieves and robbers although a rich man gave His tomb for Jesus.
Contrast this with the modern pastor who desires to join the elite clubs, drive the best cars, live in the best mansions, wear the most expensive clothes and associate with the famous, high and mighty of society. Jesus did have many followers who were high up in society ministering to him and opening their homes to Him but He kept His balance in associating with the lowest of society and being available to them. Contrast this with ministers who have body guards, behave like Hollywood stars and become totally inaccessible to the man or woman on the street. What has our modern Christianity come to? We have ended up becoming the modern Pharisees who loved the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogue, being greeted and adulated and acknowledged by all of society (Matthew 23:6-8). In place of teaching the Bible, we have shallow oratory; in place of miracles, we have expensive programs; in place of prayer, we have social gatherings. What has our modern Christianity come to?
Please note that we are not against people who have worked hard and having done their part for charity and the poor, enjoy their wealth and live in mansions and have the best of this life. There is a difference between wealth that comes through hard work and investment and wealth that comes through donations of people. The first group are those rich in the Bible who are encouraged to remember the poor and do charitable works (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Having done so, they are exhorted not to be proud but may enjoy their wealth without condemnation. It is the second group that concerns people. Any wealth that comes through donations should never be spent for the pleasure and luxury of those who run the charities. It is hard earned money that people donate to fulfil the purpose and vision of a charity or ministry. The question is then asked, can a minister then enjoy wealth. It is possible but they must ensure that the wealth they enjoy comes through their own investment and hard work and the source of such income is not from the donations but from the hard work and astute investment of their own personal income. Generally people are not against wealth, people are only against unethical behaviour. No one should be against or jealous of another person’s wealth if he or she have gotten it by honest means of hard work and astute investment. The Bible does promise prosperity to those who work hard and honestly trust God in the handling of their financial life (Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 10:4).
A great part of the humble life-style includes choosing to live humbly even when one can afford a much better lifestyle. The Greek word for humble "tapeinao" includes the sense of living modestly and being unpretentious. The origin of the Greek word for humble is derived from the word for "poor." This is also the same in the original Hebrew word for humble. Paul uses the sense of poverty and living unpretentiously when he spoke of being able to be abased or to abound, being contented with abundance or lack in this life (Philippians 4:11-13). When the apostle Paul speaks about being able to do all things in Christ, the original context was his ability to live modestly and poorly without feeling short-changed or to live in abundance without feeling guilty. The key is to desire spiritual things above the natural thus being completely unaffected by the natural surroundings.
All theory needs a practical application otherwise it is just mind games. Understanding the theology of humility in the Bible necessitates that we apply it to practical day to day living. Good theology must result in good methodology. A life style of humility would include the following:
1. Being approachable like Christ to all people without adopting "air" or a "Hollywood style" of segregation from the common person on the street (Phiippians 2:1-11).
2. Not spending the wealth God gave out of proportion with the society around us that we are living with (1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 5:1-6). A minister is not to live so poorly that people are stumbled and say that God cannot take care of His own, nor to live so high in society that the ordinary person in the street cannot associate with them.
3. Being down to earth and acknowledging and helping those who are not as blessed as us in society. The purpose of the Abrahamic covenant is that Abraham becomes a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3).
4. Action speaks louder than words. We need to proclaim the gospel through our lives and not just through our words. We are the living epistles of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:2).
5. We need to help others in society in direct proportion to our ability. If we are very rich, we must help extensively and not just do it as a token. If we are not that wealthy, then we should help in proportion to our income. No one should be burden beyond their ability (2 Corinthians 8:13-15). There is a great spiritual blessing and progress to use one’s wealth to help others around us – rewards in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Giving is based on the percentage of our income and not just the amount we give (Mark 12:41-44).
6. Remember the example of Christ always. Christ was willing to share everything He had with us. In the natural world, it is a great inconvenience to share what we have. We are not advocating that one go beyond what is reasonable and practical – you can’t have 100 homeless living with you without losing time and responsibility to the rest of your family or to have your own time and quietness with God. But sometimes, it is a test of pride to be willing to share the use of things which we treasure in an earthly sense. God will lead you in this area in teaching you to share your life and things with those around you. The ability to share is a fundamental doctrine and practice of every follower of Christ who is a true disciple of Christ. Paul shared what he earned as a tent-maker with those who were with him (Acts 20:33-35). In fulfilling this point, one should not neglect the personal responsibility to one’s own loved ones, family and those under one’s direct responsibility to care for.
7. Live your life like your true and real home is in heaven and not on earth. Everything we accumulate on this earth cannot be taken to heaven. True wealth is not those that are passing away in this earthly life. True wealth and riches are what we can accumulate in heaven where there Jesus said that neither moth nor rust destroys (Matthew 5:20). This world is not our home, we are just passing through so why do we want to make it that permanent. How long can we live? 70, 90, 120 or 140? It is a short life and there is no time to build monstrous palaces or monuments that are but a vapour which passes away. We should build our character and love which cannot pass away. The amazing thing is that Jesus said that we can convert the wealth of this life into the wealth of the next life by giving it away (Matthew 6:19-21; Mark 10:21).
In a time when the world cries out for more examples of Christ, let us rise up as a new generation of Christians and disciples who truly live the Christ-life. The world can only see Christ through us – our words, our teachings, our lifestyles. We are all not perfect yet but we can choose to be yielded to all the teachings of Christ as much as we can.
Why do we believe in Jesus and choose to be His disciples? Is it not that we truly love Him and want to be like Him? Let us put our actions with our words and live the lifestyle Jesus wants us to live as true followers of Christ. The problem is not our ability for God gives us the ability; rather it is our unwillingness for we tend to love this world and the things of this world too much to give it up. Remember the exhortation of the Scriptures that say that the love of the world and the things of this world will result in us not having the love of the Father in us (1 John 1:15-16). By all means, enjoy all that our God the Father has created and placed on the earth for our pleasure and enjoyment. But enjoy it the way Christ would enjoy it, proportionally and unselfishly.
My desire is that each of you receive great rewards in heaven and in eternity by living your lives to please God. May God help us not just to understand humility but to live humility.
In Christ Jesus
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