–“HUMILITY — UNCEASING DEPENDENCE ON GOD AND ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION TO GOD”
As we continue to look at the life of our Lord we must take a pause and look at the very bedrock of His character and the genius of His God-glorifying life: His humility before God and therefore before man. –“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. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:19, 30) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
–“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:4) –“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.” (Isaiah 57:15) We see from these self-descriptions from Jesus and His Word to us that humility, meekness, contrition and lowliness of spirit is what brings the blessing and power of God to live a life that honors Him, not ourselves. Jesus always gave God all the praise for whatever good He did for man. Yes Jesus was God incarnate but He was also like us in every way yet without sin (Hebrews 2:11-14, 4:15) and as a Man He showed us how to live only for the glory of His Father.
The pride that came from the Fall has made us fiercely independent of God and in many ways other people. As the commercial said, –“I’d rather do it myself” and –“I’d rather take credit for it too.” This is the attitude that marks all of us apart from the new birth, and even then we need the many humbling experiences that drive us to the Lord in desperation. Yet we know, especially as Christians, that we are created by God and therefore contingent, dependent, needy beings. Our adult state of being is no less needy than that of a new born whose umbilical cord has been freshly cut and all source of life, physical, emotional and relational has been cut off. A new baby will die without touch much less food and shelter. Scriptures say we were cut off at the Fall and every one born after Adam is born spiritually dead — our spiritual umbilical cord severed from the Source of Life — God. –“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) –“But your iniquities have separated you from your God.” (Isaiah 59:2) –“As for you, you were (spiritually) dead in your transgressions and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1; Also see Romans 3:23 –“all have sinned”). –“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Jesus even defines Life (Zoe, the Greek word for Eternal Life, which is more than everlasting life but a new quality of life that begins with the new birth) as knowing God personally and intimately: –“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) And He said apart from Him we can do nothing that has any spiritual or lasting value: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) God’s Word says that we are not to compare ourselves to others in any prideful way: –“Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? (God) What do you have that you did not receive? (from God) And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:6-7) Thus the beginning of humility is realizing and remaining aware of how desperately dependent we are on the Lord in order to live a life that honors Him. Maybe we can make life (not Zoe Life) work without this humble dependence on the Lord but it will have no spiritual or eternal value for ourselves or anyone else. It is truly a wasted life in God’s eyes.
So imagine you come to a fork in the road of your Christian life and one road says Trust God and the other says Please or Glorify God. Which road would you take? The point is we can’t please and glorify the Lord unless we trust Him completely to empower us to glorify Him. –“And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is trusting, depending, looking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit to enable us to please God. If we don’t have this awareness we will slip into the flesh and try to please God in our own strength and we can’t. Listen to Paul’s testimony on this: –“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Also see Romans 7:14- 8:15) Notice the need for trials and suffering to bring Paul and us to the realization of our need for God. It is only by walking (living) in the Spirit (dependence) and under the Spirit (submission – Ephesians 5:18) that we can then please and glorify God. The first part of humility then is being dependent on the Lord and the next part is doing God’s will which brings Him glory. We are human beings first not human doings.
Yet a great part of the motivation to be dependent on God is having the vision to live a life to the glory of God versus just taking care of ourselves and living for the pleasures of this brief life. Scripture is replete with exhortations to live our lives to the glory of God. –“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” –“ The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:7, 21)
–“ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36) –“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And God calls us to be conformed to the image of His Son who always lived for His Father’s glory. –“ For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) This means absolute submission to the will of God as modeled by our Lord and especially as seen in the garden of Gethsemane when He, as a Man like us, struggled with God’s will. "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."" (Mathew 26:39; absolute submission) Jesus was in touch with His deep emotions and shared them honestly with His Father. The gospel of Luke says, –“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) –“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7) Here we see both His desperate dependence on God (praying with –“loud cries and tears”) and His humble submission to God (–“He was heard because of His reverent submission”). God didn’t deliver Him from the trial but God did deliver Him in the trial. –“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) The spiritual power to do God’s will comes with our willingness to do His will. Nevertheless, Thy will be done. –“In His will is our peace.” (Dante —Paradiso) Like Jesus we are never to trust our emotions alone but we are to honestly entrust all of our emotions to God. His Father did not rebuke Him for His anguish and even His prayer to not drink the cup of God’s wrath against sin knowing (as the Son of God) that this was what He must do.
"Willingness to sacrifice is the great paradox. You must give up something in the immediate present – comfort, recognition, quick rewards – to attract something even better in the future." (Pat Riley – The Winner Within) Jesus says the same, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." (Matthew 16:24-27)
"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” (Mark 9:33-37) –“Who is the greatest" is the cry of Muhammad Ali and all in the world and even the disciples before Pentecost. The greatest of all is the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, even the Lamb that was slain (See Revelation 5:1-14) No one has ever influenced the world as this One did – but look at how He did it – through suffering for the sake of righteousness given freely to us by faith in Him. And suffering for the sake of God’s righteousness is what He has called us to do following in His footsteps. "For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:19-23) –“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxietyon him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:6-8) If we don’t deal with our emotional life as our Lord modeled for us we can give the devil an opportunity or foothold. –“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) –“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:6-7) –“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:4) Some commentators think that when Jesus –“sweat became like drops of blood” it was possibly a condition called “hematidrosis’ which is the actual mingling of blood and sweat as in cases of extreme anguish or strain. This is how far Jesus went to resist temptation. And His greatest fear was not the cross but becoming sin and thus being forsaken by His Father. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"Humility is the soil (humus) from which all Christian graces grow and the indispensable condition for fellowship with Jesus." (Andrew Murray) Humility, unceasing dependence on God and absolute submission to God, is relational. It is our response to God as we see Him as He truly is and ourselves as we truly are. Jesus as the Son of Man, like us in every way yet without sin, is the model for humility and a life lived to the glory of God .
Questions for reflection/application:
If Satan could take you out of God’s call on your life, where would he most likely try to deceive you?
How does knowing that Jesus –“took it like a man” in resisting the powerful temptation of Satan to avoid the cross, encourage you in resisting temptation? –“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:4)
Like Jesus we are never to trust our emotions alone but we are to honestly entrust all of our emotions to God. Do you take the time to share all your emotions with the Lord? We may be too busy or too macho to admit our feelings, even to God, but if we bury them we bury them alive and they come out in unhealthy and even sinful ways.
–“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (See 1 Peter 2:19-23) Does knowing that our good and just God will one day settle all accounts perfectly, free you from wrongly taking matters in your own hands?
That we would see Jesus,
Len and Kristen