“Then when Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. He said to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor because a person more distinguished than you may have been invited by your host. So the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then, ashamed, you will begin to move to the least important place. But when you are invited, go and take the least important place, so that when your host approaches he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up here to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who share the meal with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11 NET)
Humility. So easy to see yet so difficult to practice. Continue reading “Learning humility”
“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and … look for a man of Tarsus named Saul … But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.’ … But the Lord said to him, ‘Go’” (Acts 9:10-15 ESV).
I have often read how young soldiers struggle with fear, thinking that they are cowards because they are afraid. Often older veterans will advise them that it is all right to be afraid, so long as fear does not prevent them from fulfilling their duty. Continue reading “Go anyway”
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV).
Beauty is attractive. There was “not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than [Saul]” (1 Samuel 9:2). It was likely that Saul’s looks and height made him appealing to the people as king. But his character failings were why he was rejected as king.
Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah is the clearest description we have of the physical appearance of Jesus. This prophecy informs us that Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire him.” God did not want people drawn to Jesus for superficial reasons like with Saul. Continue reading “The beauty of Christ”
“Blessed are the pure in heart” (Mt. 5:8)
God is unpretentious.
What you see – by faith – is exactly what you get.
From the flaming shrub he said to Moses: “I am who I am.”
What you see? Not what you get. Continue reading “Off with the mask”
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (Colossians 3:22 ESV).
Jesus saved some of his harshest criticisms for hypocritical Jewish leaders (see Matthew 23). A hypocrite, one who wears a mask, is a person who is duplicitous. Hypocrites say one thing and do another, or think one way and act or speak another.
Peter acted hypocritically in Antioch. Peter ate with Gentiles, but when Jews came from Jerusalem, he separated himself, fearing the “circumcision party.” Many other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s example, even Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-14). Hypocrites are dangerous because they can fool people, and the people they fail to fool often are put off by what they see. Continue reading “Humility and hypocrisy”
“Whoever humbles himself…” (Matthew 18:4). Forget who is greatest in the kingdom of Jesus. Minus humility, no one sets foot in the door (Mt. 5:3). What is humility, besides one of the most difficult words to define? We know humility … Continue reading Whittling away at God
Becoming like Christ is a full-time, life-long pursuit. It is a journey which includes both forward and backward movement. Times of advancement and times of stagnation should be expected. It is important to understand that this “walk” with Christ which we are on is our life’s work. We must continue to press forward. While perfectly emulating Christ is impossible, it is likely that some aspects of Christ’s life may be easier to imitate than others.
Humility is one quality of Christ that requires dedication and persistence. Acquiring humility is difficult, for the moment when you think you have it, it is gone. It is also difficult because the world is so devoid of humility. The absence of humility gives us all the more reason to develop and demonstrate a humble life. Continue reading “Becoming humble”
Cain killed his brother. He did so because he would not own up to his unacceptable offering. Where did he learn such hubris? Did he observe the blame game being played by his parents? Humility would have led him to admit his failing to the Lord and to ask him for forgiveness. But no response of his is recorded to the Lord’s admonishment in Genesis 4.6. Was his the first passive-aggressive reaction? Instead of humility, he sought revenge. He refused to be shamed by his sin.
Lamech promised payback to offenders. He called his wives to listen to his threats. He immor(t)alized his violence in song, Genesis 4.23-24. Perhaps he was the first rapper. Instead of seeking reconciliation, he sought to cow opposition and to vanquish every challenge to his supremacy. So he escalated violence. He would have made a great dictator. The NET Bible provides a subtitle for Genesis 4.17-26, which sounds ironic: “The Beginning of Civilization.” Continue reading “Lack of humility is an ugly thing”
Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:5, 6 ESV).
Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.
The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Continue reading “Humility now, exaltation later”
Humility is not often in the news. The trait is barely recognized in society, not at all by the media. Ours is a power society.
To find humility, one must go to the pages of the Bible. There, it finds plenty of space. And it is there that we will find an answer to the question: How does humility act?
Humility is a mindset that produces distinct actions which distinguish it from the world. Here are four of them. Continue reading “How humility acts”