Thursday, October 22, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Humility
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV) Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
One night General Ulysses S. Grant was on his way to a reception in his honor. He got caught in a rainstorm. Walking near him was a man who had no umbrella. General Grant moved closer to him and offered to share his. The stranger did not recognize General Grant.
“I have never seen Grant,” he said, “but I have always thought that he was a very much overrated man.”
“That’s my view, also,” said Grant.
The word humble in the New Testament is interesting. It means, “not rising far from the ground.” It is used in Romans 12:16 when Paul writes, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Paul uses it again to describe Jesus in Philippians 2 when he says, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Just prior to using Jesus as our model of humility, Paul had challenged each one of us with these words – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Not many of us could or would say with the spontaneity of General Grant that we are overrated. I fear that most of us feel we are under-recognized and under-rewarded. What we don’t understand is that the pride that motivates such feelings is really holding us back from reaching our full potential.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said that some in his time might have become excellent scholars had they not been so persuaded of their scholarship already. Grant, most precious God, that I may never hold so high an opinion of my own spiritual health as to prevent my being in my deeds full of your grace and fear!
In his book Authentic Christianity John Stott writes, “We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgment instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God’s, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behaviour.”
If we are going to learn to live in the fullness and joy of Jesus, then we must stop trying to rise so far off the ground. We are not capable of rising into the presence of God. But Jesus is, and it is only His life in us that exalts us. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Renounce your own strength, and be reinvigorated by His!