Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Will Exalt the Humble

I have been reading D.L. Moody’s classic book, The Overcoming Life during the past couple of months. If you have never read this book, I highly recommend you add it to your Christian library. Moody writes it to encourage believers in the daily struggle of Christian warfare. He dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of humility that I wanted to spend time discussing.

There may be no harder lesson to learn or virtue to possess than humility. Ben Franklin, who spent most of his life exploring the role of civic and personal virtue, had this to say about humility, “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

As I ponder Franklin’s statement, it is apparent that as much as the world tries to teach and attain humility, it cannot be found in text books or within the walls of our most learned institutions. It can only be found in the schools of Christ. In fact, it may have well been the hardest virtue of all that Christ tried to teach His disciples.

Moody states that it was interesting to him to discover that the reason Christ gave for learning about Him was not because He was the most advanced thinker of the age or because He performed supernatural miracles but because He was “meek and lowly in heart.” For you see humility does not consist of thinking meanly of ourselves as some believe, but in not thinking of ourselves at all. If humility speaks of itself, it is gone.

Many of the other virtues like love, faith, goodness and joy can be counterfeited, but humility cannot be faked. A false humility is detected almost immediately. This fact comes into sharp focus when we look at our own age of boasting. I remember listening to a TV evangelist years ago who said that because he was a man of God, he deserved to have his shoes custom made for his feet because his feet were especially made by God for His service. Can you even fathom Christ, who bent down to wash his disciple’s feet at the Last Supper, making a statement such as this?

When the followers of John the Baptist asked him, "Who are you?" He replied that he was nobody and that there would come “one mightier than me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose” (Mark 1:7). Now notice what Christ says about John, “He is a burning and shining light” (John 5:35) and after he was beheaded, Christ declares that John was “greater than any man born of a woman" (Matthew 11:11). Wow. Christ gave John the honor that belonged to him. If we take a humble position, Christ will see it and exalt us, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time"(I Peter 5:6).

I really believe, as I look at my own walk with the Lord, that humility is a result not an achievement. The closer I am to the Lord, the more I see myself decrease. But make no mistake, this is a daily, minute by minute battle. We have to be in the Word and on our knees continually seeking the Lord’s face and will. I would suggest that if this is the pattern of our life than as we gaze into the face of the Lord, our face will disappear and we will shine the same way Moses did when he met with the Lord on Mount Sinai. Moses' change, like that of Jesus on the mountaintop, was so dramatic that ordinary people were overwhelmed simply by seeing the reflection of the presence of God on his face. That is humility in all its glory. God’s face shining in place of ours.

“As the lark that soars the highest builds her nest the lowest; as the nightingale that sings so sweetly sings in the shade when all things rest; as the branches that are most laden with fruit bend lowest; as the ship most laden sinks deeper in the water; so the holiest Christians are the humblest.” - James Montgomery

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