Christianity 201

March 3, 2013

Defining Humility

James (NLT) 4:0 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

John (ESV) 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Last year at this time we visited the blog of Bill Williams, A Spiritual Oasis.  (You might want to read Bill’s story.) We return today for a recent post there originally titled Am I Truly A Humble Follower of Jesus?   As always, you’re encouraged to read featured articles at C201 at their original online source.

Humility tops the list of the virtues to be sought by God’s children. Jesus places it first on the list of blessed attitudes He endorses. The first beatitude begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

True humility is often an elusive quality. For most of us, becoming more humble is one of life’s most difficult challenges. We spend our lives endeavoring to more fully learn what it means to walk humbly with God. Tragically, the moment we conclude that we have “arrived” is the very moment we cease to walk in humility. One author jokingly conveyed this notion when he proposed the following title for his book on the topic: Humility, And How I Attained It.

Humility is also misunderstood. On the one hand, truly humble people are easily misused or abused. They will seldom complain or demand their rights. On the other hand, feigned humility can be used as an excuse for non-involvement in ministry.

This is illustrated by the response one church member made, when asked to help with a good work. He said something like: “Oh, I’m just one of the humble members around here. You should ask brother So-and-so. He’ll probably do it.”

Indeed, humility is often misunderstood; and, growth in humility is very challenging. Still, Jesus promises a blessing to those who are truly humble, stating “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Therefore, we should all endeavor to walk more humbly with the Lord. To help shed some light on the subject, the following characteristics of a humble person are suggested. A truly humble Christian is:

Honest: The humble person knows his or her God-given talents and limitations. She is aware of both her strengths and her weaknesses. She admits to failure as readily as claiming success. She is aware that it is only by the grace of God that she is what she is and will become what she hopes to be.

Unpretentious: The humble person is a sincere servant of God. Whatever he does, he works with all of his heart for the Lord, not for men. He seeks only to serve, not to be seen. His heart’s delight is to hear others praise the Father in heaven.

Manageable: The humble person has taken to herself the “yoke of Christ.” She remains teachable. She is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God, the Master Potter, is constantly shaping her life. So, she remains soft and pliable and is continually being conformed to the image of God’s Son.

Bold: The humble person knows that serving God means he must dare to travel the road less taken. Because he marches for the Master, he must forge ahead when others shrink back. He also knows that standing with God often involves standing against those who oppose the will of God. He understands that a Christian must stand for something or he will fall for almost anything.

Loving: The humble person is one from whom others continually hear of God’s love. Love is in her heart, because the cross of Christ is always in her mind. She knows what it is to be loved, so her life is an expression of God’s love. She walks in love. Yes, she boldly stands with and for God; but she lovingly encourages others to do the same. She lives to show others God’s love.

Enthusiastic: The humble person remembers that someone once said that enthusiasm has a literal meaning of “God within.” He believes it! He is, literally speaking, an eternal optimist, always pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He is known for reminding others that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” When the doubters seek to throw cold water on great plans for the Lord, his response is: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Even when things look bleak and gloomy, he or she draws strength from God within and remains fervent in spirit.

Perhaps we all should ask: “Am I truly a humble follower of Jesus?”

In addition to great Bible studies like this one, Bill Williams has a great page of online study resources you should know about.

February 17, 2011

Pray for the Illumination of the Spirit

This week we’re catching up with devotional bloggers featured here last summer.  Dwight Wagner blogs at Strengthened by Grace and presented this quotation today:

“We must pray daily for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, if we would make progress in the knowledge of divine things. Without Him, the mightiest intellect and the strongest reasoning powers will carry us but a little way. In reading the Bible and hearing sermons, everything depends on the spirit in which we read and hear. A humble, teachable, child-like frame of mind is the grand secret of success. Happy is he who often says with David, “Teach me Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:64.) Such an one will understand as well as hear.”–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.

This ties in so well with a book I’m currently reading for the second time, The Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  This follow up book to Crazy Love presents a theology of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of people want to talk about supernatural things like miracles, healing or prophecy.  But focusing inordinately on these things quickly becomes misguided.  God calls us to pursue Him, not what he might do for us or even in our midst.  Scripture emphasizes that we should desire fruit, that we should concern ourselves with becoming more like His Son.  God wants us to seek to listen to His Spirit and to obey.  The point of it all was never the miracles in and of themselves.  Those came when they were unexpected, when people were faithful and focused on serving and loving others. (p. 88)