Thursday, December 1, 2022
George Vasilievich Govorov was born in 1815 in Russia in the village of Chernavsk. His father was a Russian Orthodox Priest. After years of education and seminary training, he was ordained into the priesthood at the age of 26. At that time he chose to go by the name Theophan. Later, because of the focus of his spiritual walk, he became known as Theophan the Recluse.
He became a prolific writer, focusing primarily on the inner life of holiness to which every believer is called. He believed that the admonition of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” was to be taken seriously. He wrote that all spiritual life begins with the humbling of the heart and the death of the flesh. Then, as a sacred vessel before the Lord, we can commune with Him constantly.
Theophan wrote some marvelous things, and regardless of what we think we know about his theology based on his church affiliation, truth is truth regardless of the context in which it is spoken. He had much to say about humility. One of his quotes which particularly interested me was this:
“The Lord sometimes leaves in us some defects of character in order that we should learn humility. For without them we would immediately soar above the clouds in our own estimation and would place our throne there. And herein lies perdition.”
Much of our lives are spent, or should I say wasted, in the pursuit of self-exaltation. The passion of the human spirit is to better oneself. It is what is conceived into each of us because of Adam’s sin nature. It is what contradicts the Holy Spirit’s call to humility so that God can exalt us in His time.
On three distinct occasions the Apostle Paul prayed for the removal of the “thorn” in his flesh, and each time the Lord Jesus demanded humility instead of delivering healing. Why? Because Paul knew that there was a high probability that he would have taken pride in the level of spiritual revelation that God had given him. Paul’s estimation and evaluation of his own position would have interfered with what God wanted to do in his life.
Peter speaks of humility this way: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
We must humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. Notice, we do not humble ourselves under someone who is weak or powerless to control the outcomes of our lives. We do not humble ourselves under someone who cannot fulfill His promises. We do not humble ourselves under someone who does not understand our situation. No, we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We can cast all our anxiety upon Him. There’s no need to worry – His hand is mighty. There’s no need to fear – His hand is mighty.
Theophan later wrote this: “Whatever you thirst for – so long as it is not contrary to the spirit of the Lord – you will find relief in Him. If you thirst for knowledge, run to the Lord, for He is the one and only light, enlightening every man. If you thirst for cleansing from sin and quenching of the flames of your conscience, run to the Lord, for He tore asunder the handwriting of our sins upon the Cross. If you thirst for peace in your heart, run to the Lord, for He is the treasury of all good, Whose abundance will teach you to forget all deprivations and despise all earthly good, so as to be filled with Him alone. If you need strength, He is almighty. If you need glory, His glory surpasses the world. If you desire freedom, He gives true freedom. He will resolve all our doubts, loose the bonds of our passions, dispel all our troubles and difficulties, will enable us to overcome all obstacles, temptations and intrigues of the enemy, and will make smooth the path of our spiritual life. Let us all run to the Lord!”
What a transforming truth – God cares for you. Humble yourself before Him, and He will fulfill His purpose for you, and someday you will stand exalted in His presence.