Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where Did Humility Go?

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 

Where did humility go? Why is it so hard to find genuine humility in the church, in the family, in the workplace and in society?

Here's the question today. Can we walk humbly with God if we are not walking humbly before man? My simple answer is, "No." However, in the realm of Christianity this gets more complicated. Let me explain what I mean.

There are those who have pride (they call it certainty) of position. From these folks you never hear the phrase "I don't know." To them, "knowing" is a source of personal pride. These are usually very studious individuals who have cemented in their minds what they believe on a myriad of issues. However, even if they haven't studied out some particular issue they will announce their uninformed judgement on it with great certitude. For them certainty is their comfort zone and uncertainty is scary.

The darker side is this. These individuals routinely look down their noses at others who do not have precisely the identical position regarding Scriptural interpretation and application as they do. This is pride. God has told us that our ways and thoughts are not the same as His are. Those who think they have God all figured out will be disabused of that notion when they finally arrive in Heaven. Humility comes when we finally admit that our finite minds cannot grasp all that is our infinite God. When "I don't know" and "I might be wrong" becomes part of our thinking and vocabulary we are well on the road to humility.

In addition to those misguided souls that have pride in position there are those who have pride of passion. They not only believe that they are right on the issues, but they believe that because they are right on the issues that they love God more than those who do not entirely agree with them. Pride of passion says "I love God more than you do."

This faulty reasoning is man centered not God focused. Here's why. The Bible teaches that man's love is a responsive love. We love God because He first loved us. Therefore, the intensity of our love for God is only a reflection of the intensity of His love for us. The more that we understand His love the more we love Him. Therefore, our love for Him is nothing for us to get all proud about because we are not the source. He is. The Apostle Paul said that the thing he was going to glory in (be proud of) is the Cross of Christ. We don't find Paul telling us how great he is because he loves Jesus SO much. It is curious, however, that so many people who are so proud of their love for God point to everything else in their life as evidence and very rarely point to God's love displayed on the cross.

Jesus made himself of "no reputation" the Bible says. He gave up His place in Heaven to be born to an unwed mother, and he lived all his life with the public shame and riducule that went with that in those days. He didn't come to high society, but instead he landed in the blue-collar home of a construction worker, a carpenter. He did not boast of the place that was rightfully His in Heaven. Scripture says, "He humbled himself."

Pride of place has become quite a problem within Christianity over the years. Everyone wants a place for themselves with some power or influence. Unfortunately, this is prevalent even in the church. We watch people jockey for a "place" of prominence within the church, within their group of friends, and within society at large.

Holding influence and power appeals to the flesh. It reminds me very much of the children's game musical chairs. Everyone scrambling to make sure they aren't the one without a chair at the end. Jesus tells us that when we come to a feast not to assume that we get to sit at the head table, but that we are to take a seat at the back and wait to be invited to the seats of honor.  There are so many, however, that think so much of themselves that they think they are worthy of the place that they aspire to have. Remember the Pharisees? Those were the guys that blew a trumpet before they prayed so folks would see how spiritual they were. Why did they do this? They wanted people to look up to them. Again, it comes down to the pursuit of power and influence. Humility allows God to control one's "place" or lack of place.

Another form of pride we find is pride of pain. So often I run into people who think that they are better, more spiritual, even closer to God than others because of what they have been through or because of what they are currently enduring. These confused individuals see pain as something of a contest. They are constantly comparing what they are going through with the trials of others. If they perceive their difficulty as worse than the calamity of some other poor soul, their determination is that they must be better or stronger them. .

Finally we talk about the pride of popularity. Popularity can very often be a blindfold that obscures the truth about ourselves. Many assume that they are right simply because they have a following. This is not necessarily true. Think of the dozens of tyrants and despots over the years who were popular. That didn't make them or their actions right. Popularity is the drug of our society. Everyone, it seems, is grasping to be validated by their fifteen minutes of fame. What these deluded souls don't see, however, is the tail of the scorpion of fame that whips around to nail them between the eyes. The attention of others is not myopic. People do not only see what the famous person wants them to see, they also see the faults, flaws, and failures of the celebrity du jour.

So, all of this to say. Walking humbly with God means walking humbly before man. Let's be part of a resurgence of humility.

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