Thursday, November 20, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Humility and Obedience
Today’s Scripture: 1 Samuel 15:17-19 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
Let’s continue our thoughts from yesterday. The secular philosophy of humanism declares that all people are good. As a result, every person can look at themselves with pride. Our self-esteem should be nurtured until we become great in our own eyes. Such humanistic thought is the antithesis of spiritual truth.
In today’s Scripture passage, Samuel commends King Saul for the humility he had in his early years. In fact, Samuel says it was that humility that God recognized and rewarded by anointing him King of Israel. But his humble spirit was gone. Pride had now taken over, and God was about to take away his position.
Samuel saw Saul’s pride. I believe that the questions Samuel asks of Saul were rhetorical. Samuel already knew the answer. The questions were for Saul’s benefit to see if he would admit to the truth. Samuel knew why Saul did not obey the Lord. It was because Saul was now motivated by pride rather than trust in God.
There are two truths I want to share from this story today. First, God honors a humble spirit. God chooses to work in and through the lives of people who are small in their own eyes. God is seen best in the lives of people who understand how undeserving they are for God to even be in their lives. That thought came to my heart in a very real way this morning. Let me tell you a quick story.
I was in the car this morning at 5:50 a.m. heading for an Amish farm outside of Augusta, Wisconsin. A dear friend of mine from South Dakota needed me to check on the availability of lumber from the sawmill operated by Daniel, an Amish farmer. Daniel and I have gotten to know each other over the past 5 years, and he has started to open up to me. Today, through a series of God-ordained and appointed circumstances, Daniel opened up his heart to talk about his life. For over an hour I was able to share the Gospel with him, and discover that he has no assurance of a place in heaven. At one point of the conversation, while referring to the recent improvements to his barn, Daniel said these words – I don’t deserve what I have. Immediately the LORD nudged me and I told Daniel that’s exactly how I feel about my salvation – I don’t deserve it. After several moments, Daniel, in tears, came almost to the point of accepting Jesus as his Savior. But his cultural teaching got in the way. Pray for Daniel. He is so close. He considers me a friend. By his own admission this morning, I may be the only friend he can talk to about his life. Pray that God would draw him to salvation.
My point is that it was at the moment of seeing myself as small that God did His most powerful work. It is in humility that God is exalted. It is in our weakness that His strength is made available and visible. As the Apostle Paul said, If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. Then, after asking God to remove his weaknesses, and hearing God say, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, Paul said, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. When we are small in our own eyes, our eyes will see the Majesty of God. So will the eyes of others.
Secondly, notice how Samuel addresses the sin of Saul. He says that Saul’s disobedience was evil in the eyes of the LORD. Here are some penetrating questions that will be points to ponder.
- Are we minimizing our sins because culture minimizes them?
- Are we looking at our sins through the eyes of culture or the eyes of God?
- Do we justify sin in our lives because of it’s immediate benefit to us?
- Do we classify sin into categories of “acceptable” and “confessable”?
- Do we assign blame for our sin to others?
If any of our answers to the above questions are influenced by our culture or our pride, then we have chosen to deny the reign of the LORD in our lives. Saul’s disobedience was the result of pride. All sin is the result of pride. All pride rejects God as Sovereign LORD. This is serious. Don’t gloss over this. Don’t think I am being radical. This is the truth. Pride caused Saul to pounce on the plunder that was to be destroyed. Pride will cause us to pounce on the sin that is to be destroyed in our lives. Humble yourself before the LORD today, and let Him be exalted in your life.