[“In 1 Kings 15:5 we find a bittersweet epitaph which begins, “David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” Will history remember David Petraeus with the same caveat? We must never assume that present obedience guarantees future faithfulness. While our culture segregates religion from the “real world,” you and I should never make the mistake of self-reliance in guarding our integrity. “There but for the grace of God go I” is the right response to Gen. Petraeus’s sin and our temptations.” [email protected]] “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
God is able to humble those who walk in pride. (Dan. 4:37) I can surely testify to that and I am sure there is more humbling to come. Yet I hope and pray I am learning (from God’s humbling me) to humble myself as Peter and James and Scripture in general (Proverbs, etc.) instruct us to do. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6; also see James 4:6-10) I think we would be wise to learn from Nebuchadnezzar’s bad example of hubris (pride on steroids) before we move on in our study of Daniel. I was so blessed by reading Andrew Murray’s book, Humility – The Cardinal Virtue of Christianity, some years ago and then I prepared a prayer guide from his book to use for our Day Alone with God. We will do a two week study using this prayer guide taking six chapters each week. (Remember we will not meet the Friday after Thanksgiving.) Please read the entire document (attached) and answer the questions for our table discussions. The following is just a brief summary of the first six chapters and I will summarize the last six chapters for our meeting on November 30.
CHAPTER 1 – HUMILITY – THE GLORY OF THE CREATURE (you and me). “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matt. 23:11) “This is what the LORD says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things and so they came into being? declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isa. 66:1-2) When the poison of pride was breathed into our soul by Satan at the Fall, man sank to the pit of hell. The lack of humility is the sufficient explanation for every defect and failure. God, in Jesus, created a new humanity in the incarnation of Christ to bring back to man through the new birth the disposition of Jesus –humility. Humility is unceasing dependence on God and absolute submission to God. It is our response to God as we see Him as He truly is, perfect in power and glory, and ourselves as we truly are, contingent creatures who choose to rebel against our Maker and King. It is the characteristic and attitude of Jesus who said: John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (Unceasing dependence) Matt. 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Absolute submission) Humility is our true nobility and the highest fulfillment of our destiny as redeemed sons of God and our only true happiness. Phil 2:3-8 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Humility is “the distinguishing mark” of a disciple of Jesus and yet is so unnatural to our flesh that it must be made the object of earnest desire, daily prayer and daily practice. Yet, we cannot even cast out pride ourselves but can only receive humility from Jesus as we look at Him and look to Him in brokenness and contrition. 2 Cor 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, (Jesus) are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Isa 57:15 “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” How does dependency on the Lord and submission to the Lord manifest in day-to-day life?
CHAPTER 2 – HUMILITY: THE SECRET OF REDEMPTION – All wars and bloodshed among nations, all selfishness and suffering, all ambitions and jealousies, all broken hearts and broken homes, all unhappiness, are the result of the wicked pride of Satan and fallen man and can only be changed through salvation and surrender to the life of Christ – the Second Adam. We must deplore pride and fear it as our # 1 enemy which only Christ can conquer in us as we yield our lives to His Lordship. (“And nine rings went to the race of men who above all others desire power.” -The Lord of the Rings) “He therefore only fights the good fight who fights the self-idolatrous nature which all men have received from Adam and can only be brought to death by surrender to the supernatural humility of Jesus.” William Law “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].” (Matt. 16:24) Do you deplore your pride? Do you fear your pride as the # 1 enemy of your soul, of your happiness?
CHAPTER 3 – HUMILITY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS – John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” John 5:30 “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5: 41 “I do not accept praise from men.” John 7:16 “Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.” John 8:28 “So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” John 8:49-50 “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself.” Jesus always lived the “not I” kind of life and calls us to the same. Gal 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” He was nothing so that God could be all and because He always lived in humility toward God, He found it possible to humble Himself before man. Eph 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Murray says we can go about our ordinary Christian life and still not pursue the humility of Jesus as the chief mark of Christ living in us. Do you agree that just going to church, doing devotions, etc., without pursuing the humility of Jesus, is “fooling yourself”? Why or why not?
CHAPTER 4 – HUMILITY IN THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS – Matt. 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 20:27-28 “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 5:3-5 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” James 4:6 “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” John 13:13-17 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Jesus as our teacher taught us by word and example to wash the feet of (humbly serve) others and as our Lord, He commanded us to do so. He even teaches that we will be blessed if we humbly serve others. Who are you presently serving or called by God to serve and “wash their feet? Someone said, “You will know if you have a servant’s spirit by how you feel when people treat you like one.” Do you feel offended when serving others and no one thanks you? Explain.
CHAPTER 5 – HUMILITY IN THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS – The disciples had left all to follow Jesus, were casting out demons, healing the sick and preaching the kingdom of God but still lacked humility. After Jesus’ teaching and modeling humility to them for three years they were still arguing over who was the greatest during the Last Supper: Luke 22:24 “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” After the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the proud disciples began to look more like their humble Master. This shows us that only by the Spirit’s power can the flesh be cast out: Rom 8:13 “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,” Earlier in Romans 7:14-8:4, Paul confessed his helplessness to cast out the flesh and the pride in him. “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” We can only make Him known to the degree we know Him and have been conformed to His image. This means recognizing that Jesus’ humility is His chief glory, His first command and our highest blessedness. If we believe this we will seek it with all of our hearts and not be satisfied with God’s power and spiritual gifts apart from Christ’s humility. The disciples were casting out demons and healing the sick but still lacked humility. Do you desire the humility of Jesus more than spiritual gifts, business or ministry “success” or the good life in general? Why or why not?
CHAPTER 6 – HUMILITY IN DAILY LIFE – Our love for God and our humility before Him is revealed in our everyday relationships with others. 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” It is in our ordinary daily life and conduct that we really show and see what we are, what spirit/attitude really possesses us. Dr. James Houston says, “I always see my sins most clearly in my relationships.” Rom. 12:10,14,16 “Honor one another above yourselves. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Eph 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 1 Cor. 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” Let us look on every person in our daily experiences who tries or vexes us as God’s means to bring about Jesus’ humility in us as we pray like Paul, “O wretched man that I am (without Christ’s humility) who will deliver me from my pride? Thanks be to God for Jesus! He will.” Mark 7:20-23 “And then he (Jesus) added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Who in your life reveals the lack of Christ’s humility in you….your spouse, children, friends, parents, in-laws, boss, employee, tailgater on the interstate or grandma on the interstate, or others? Other people are never responsible for making us proud or angry, etc., but only reveal our true inner nature. How can you let Jesus use these difficult relationships to conform you more and more into His attitude of humility?