The beauty of Christ

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”

Humility and hypocrisy

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”

Becoming humble

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”

Lack of humility is an ugly thing

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”

Humility now, exaltation later

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”

How humility acts

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”

Humility is the way to peace

Why do Christians at times struggle with each other? Why does it seem we sometimes have more patience and understanding with those outside of Christ rather than with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Could it be that we have our focus on the wrong person?

“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:1-3 CSB)

Why do we fight with other Christians? James identified the problem for us: it is because we are focused on ourselves. We cannot have peace with others if we are self-centred. Continue reading “Humility is the way to peace”