Archive for August, 2013

Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer

August 29, 2013

Have you ever been wronged by anyone? Of course, you have been wronged by another. Have you ever wronged anyone? Of course, you have wronged others. We are sinful, so it goes to say that we have wronged and have been wronged. Why then are we so surprised when wronged? We are surprised because we walk around in pride thinking that we are better than we really are. When wrong is committed either by us or others, we have but one option – to seek to be forgiven or to seek to forgive (Matthew 6:12, 14-15). There Jesus presents that Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

“Forgiving often does not come easily. We may beat up on ourselves for some sin in our lives even after God has forgiven us. And many of us find it difficult to forgive others. Oftentimes we want others who have done us wrong to suffer for their actions. Jesus says that if we do not forgive others, we cannot experience His forgiveness. Some are reluctant to forgive because they feel that by doing so would discount the wrong done by others when in actuality forgiving says the opposite. Forgiving requires first acknowledging that an act was wrong. If not then there would be no need for forgiveness. When we forgive we are saying,” What you did was wrong but I release you from its penalty.” We also release ourselves when we forgive those who have harmed us. By failing to forgive keeps us bound to the one who has wronged us. Only by forgiving can we put the past behind us. Nursing hurts from the past requires energy, energy that can be used in living the full and abundant life in the present. Forgiveness is the door to freedom.” (Crystal Coast)

Matthew Henry shares that God, in forgiving us, has a peculiar respect to our forgiving those that have injured us; and therefore, when we pray for pardon, we must mention our making conscience of that duty, not only to remind ourselves of it, but to bind ourselves to it. See that parable, Matt. 18:23-25. Selfish nature is loth to comply with this, and therefore it is here inculcated, Matt. 6:14, 15. He that relents toward his brother, thereby shows that he repents toward his God. Those which in the prayer are called debts, are here called trespasses, debts of injury, wrongs done to us in our bodies, goods, or reputation: trespasses is an extenuating term for offences, paraptomatastumbles, slips, falls.

In our text (Matthew 6:12-15) today, we are reminded of Jesus’ requirement to forgive in efforts to be forgiven. As such, Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer. “Jesus reminds us to make forgiving and being forgiven a matter of prayer. Jesus uses two different words here in Matthew 6:12-15. The word translated sin or debt in verse 12 is the word “opheilemata” [opheilēma] while the word “paraptomata” [paraptōma] is translated transgression in verse 14. In verse 12 opheilemata is an offense that requires that reparation be made where paraptomata in verse 14 is deliberately stepping over the line or boundary placed by another. Consider the offense directed to the Father. When we see our actions, and thoughts in contrast to a holy God we can do no other than forgive the person who has crossed over the boundaries we have set in our lives. How can the offense of another compare to the offense that we have directed towards God? As we walk in relations with Father, we exhibit the inherit nature of God as we extend agape to others regardless of their actions and regardless to their reaction to our extending agape towards them. Relationship with Father allows the Holy Spirit to reveal His glory (Exodus 34:6,7 comp with 33:18) through us.”

We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven; and therefore must not only bear no malice, nor mediate revenge, but must not upbraid our brother with the injuries he has done us, nor rejoice in any hurt that befals him, but must be ready to help him and do him good, and if he repent and desire to be friends again, we must be free and familiar with him, as before. Matthew Henry

Our aim should be to glorify the Father. If that is the case, forgiveness glorifies the Father. It is what Jesus represents. It is what we should represent. I am speaking out of my deficit or struggle to forgive. We find the key in contrasting the words the word  debts, opheilēma, and trespasses, paraptōma. While the former is seen as deliberate acts to hurt which require reparations and Jesus paid that for us, the latter should be seen as missteps or lapses which only require us to see the person as one who truly cares for us but made a mistake in judgement in a carrying out that act.

Whether you feel you can adjust your state of mind or not, Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer. “But if you forgive not those that have injured you, that is a bad sign you have not the other requisite conditions, but are altogether unqualified for pardon: and therefore your Father, whom you call Father, and who, as a father, offers you his grace upon reasonable terms, will nevertheless not forgive you. Pray with me that we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to carry out Forgiveness. Remember, we must be humble.

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How to Clothe Yourself II

August 27, 2013

As my exploration into humility began, let me remind you of what I first shared. The more common use for how we think of humility is Strong’s G5012 – tapeinophrosynē 1) the having a humble opinion of one’s self, 2) a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness, 3) modesty, humility, lowliness of mind. It is the use of humility in those verses that communicates not how we respond, but how we think of ourselves. This lowliness of mind is the opposite of pride. It is the example cited for us by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Likewise, Colossians 3:12-13 offers us a congruent yet extended admonition about how to follow Christ. Paul is consistent in Philippians and Colossians. Christ is the focus of our example of humility. In the post How to Clothe Yourself, I shared how God, through Paul, stated we should clothe ourselves with humility as a primary character attribute. I submitted that it was Christ’s humility that allowed Him to love us to the point of dying on the cross. Here in Colossians 3:12-13 the appeal is to us as God’s chosen or elect people. In essence, Paul is saying since God has chosen you to be included in the family of God, to receive salvation, the forgiveness of your sin, this is how you should develop your character, How to Clothe Yourself II.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

We see again the by-product of humility is forgiveness. Now, the focus is not on us receiving forgiveness but extending it. Here is the answer to all ills in relational trespasses. At every turn, I hear God saying How to Clothe Yourself II. God wants all of us, especially those who are God’s chosen people, make sure that we put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. What a line up of personal attributes we are asked to dress ourselves with.

LORD God, you know that these are right, but you also know that these are tough. As I dealt with a group of students yesterday, as I dealt with myself yesterday, the challenge for us all is How to Clothe Yourself II. I do know that when I chose to humble myself and forgive as the Lord forgave me that I was at peace. I experienced the beautiful and precious life you extended to man when you sent Jesus to die on the cross. I experienced a wee bit of Christ’s power and benefit as I forgave those whom I had developed a complaint or resentment towards for a wrong committed against me.

It is invitable that someone will wrong us. It is inevitable that we will wrong others especially God, but the expectation has been set. God tells us How to Clothe Yourself II. Humility leading to forgiveness is the expectation. Who will you forgive today as the Lord forgave you?

How to Clothe Yourself

August 25, 2013

I am having to address someone almost everyday about his/her clothes. You would think that people, whether children or adults, would know how to dress by this point their lives, but that is far from the truth. People need constant reminders and in some cases people need the simple instruction of what to wear and what not to wear. We cannot assume that each of us will get it right in terms of How to Clothe Yourself

We find expectations of how to clothe ourselves spiritually in 1 Peter 5:5-6. The word for clothe in our text is egkomboomai (en-kom-bo’-o-mī (Key)). It means knot or band by which two things are fastened together, to fasten or gird one’s self. C.F.A. Fritzsche is credited to have said “This was the white scarf or apron of slaves, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished slaves from freemen. Therefore, 1 Pet 5:5 (“gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb”) encourages Christians to show their subjection one to another by putting on humility. This could also refer to the overalls which slaves wore to keep clean while working—an exceedingly humble garment.”

1 Peter 5:5-6

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

We are told how to relate to one another as believers in this text. We are told to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. Wow, even at this very moment I am somewhat miffed at my wife at how we are addressing or not addressing a situation. The LORD God just asked me if I was being humble. He asked me if I was subjecting myself to my wife. The answer was no. In fact, when I was asked that by God all my tension just dissipated. Poof. It was gone and replaced by peace.

The Proverb that says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” is so true especially for me in this moment. We worry about the latest fashion or whether we are coordinated or matching. Spiritually speaking, God is asking us to pay even more attention to How to Clothe Yourself.

As with me, the question He is asking you this morning is do you know How to Clothe Yourself. For Him, it is not rhetorical but biblical. It is essential to faith in Jesus Christ. If we intend on being like Jesus, we must clothe ourselves as He did in humility. What attitude are you wearing this morning? If not humility, it is time to change your spiritual clothes.

Why God Humbles Us

August 24, 2013

Listen, I am not professing to be the authority on God other than what God has told me during our times together. In reality, that is what life is all about. It is about spending time with God affording Him the time due Him as creator and sustainer of life to, through moments of faith, endear me to Himself. God is all about Himself, and it is God. In most cases where people try to make you realize something about themselves, it is solely for their benefit. In contrast, when we recognize who God is, it is entirely for our benefit. In a nutshell, that is Why God Humbles Us – for our benefit. Let’s go to the Word for an example.

Deuteronomy 8

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” God’s desire is not for us to fall or be destroyed. “That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Again, God considers our well-being in response to Why God Humbles Us. In Deuteronomy 8, God issues a warning to the people to be obedient. God was reiterating and laying the foundation of the conditional promise found in obedience.

 

God wanted the people to experience the blessing of the promise He made to them. God promised to take the Israelites to the promised land, and He did that. God always makes good on His promises. Remember, God is faithful. It was the faithfulness of the Israelites, like us, that was in question. When the text says, “to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”, God already knows what’s in our hearts. He wanted to show the people what was in their hearts. We are the type of people who God has to show because we don’t listen to what He tells us. If you don’t believe me, check yourself against His Word in comparison to your obedience. You will see we fall woefully short, but we think otherwise which is Why God Humbles Us. If He allowed us to continue in our disbelief, we would come to ruin.

Being humbled by God is painful, but it is more painful to live life without humbling ourselves to God. Those who fail to ever humble themselves will spend eternity separated from God and His goodness.  Why God Humbles Us – to bless us. Surrender today.

 

Humility: He Loved Them to the End

August 21, 2013

We all have heard the fairytale stories about love. How one lives happily ever after or how the knight in shining armor comes to save the damsel. In reality, we know that when it comes to day-to-day living those stories are hard to find. The divorce rate in America is above 50% whether Christian or not. Why would one who had such high hopes fail to experience the bliss dreamed about? They were not humble.

Rarely do we equate humility with love. Even when we are introduced to the truth about how to love, we hang on to the fairy tale notions with a G.I. Joe Kung Fu Grip. We fail to change our mindset because in our heart of heart we are selfish and prideful. As always, Jesus demonstrates what our actions should be. John 13 is most noted for Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. It is one of the quintessential examples of humility. There Jesus is washing their feet knowing who would betray Him, knowing who would deny Him, knowing who would crucify Him; yet, He Loved Them to the End. That is what jumped off the page to me was one phrase earlier in the passage.

Jesus could Love Them to the End because He was humble. He was humble because He Loved Them. Love is the source of our salvation by grace – God’s unmerited favor. Without love, grace would not be afforded to us. Listen to what grabbed my attention from the first part of John 13.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

We have failed to love our parents, siblings, spouses, neighbors for far less. Jesus knew that He was about to die one of the most humiliating and debilitating deaths during His time and of all time. Jesus loved them down to the instant where He died. It was that love that caused Jesus to surrender His will, His life. The word for love there is agapaō (ä-gä-pä’-ō). Of persons, it means to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.

In spite of His knowledge of their faults, Jesus continued to be fond of the disciples. Jesus always sought to serve as the example for His disciples. Hear what He says to them later in the chapter “14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” Jesus’ love is illustrated in the rousing scene of the Son of God washing the feet of His disciples. If He, the Son of God, does not disdain performing the most menial tasks of a servant (Phil. 2:7, 8), how could we? Our jobs are to see ourselves in a lowly manner, so that we can perform menial tasks too. We should love so that when we die that people have the same commentary that Jesus testifies of Himself – He Loved Them to the End.

Who are you going to be humble to today to love?

Pride or Humility: Which Endears You to God?

August 19, 2013

The Tent of Meeting was a tent pitched by Moses outside the Israelite camp in the wilderness. There Moses met with God and others would enquire of the Lord. God’s presence was shown there by a pillar of cloud. It seems to predate the construction and setting up of the tabernacle, after which, the term became synonymous with the tabernacle.  Perhaps, the tent was outside the camp because of the Lord’s estrangement from his people (Ex 33:3) following their making the golden calf. It was possibly a temporary structure used until the tabernacle was completed. Ex 33:7

Regardless, it was the place were God met with Moses. Moses had the honor and responsibility of meeting with God for the people of God. Moses, along with Aaron, Miriam and Joshua, would enter the Tent of Meeting. While Moses was not the only one who entered the Tent of Meeting, Moses was the one whom God had given the honor and responsibility. We see a glimpse of that dynamic in Numbers 12.

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lordcame down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said,

“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
I shall speak with him in a dream.
“Not so, with My servant Moses,
He is faithful in all My household;
With him I speak mouth to mouth,
Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
And he beholds the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant, against Moses?”

So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. 10 But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!” 13 Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” 15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.

16 Afterward, however, the people moved out from Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

There are so many issues that surface in this text. I want to focus on how God met with Moses as well as how pride/jealous impacts our relationship with God. Over the past few posts, the notion of humility has surfaced. It is an attribute esteemed by God and evidenced by Christ. Consequently, God expects us to demonstrate an attribute in which He esteems and evidences. If God likes it and does it, we should be convinced that God expects us to adopt that attribute as a godly characteristic in our lives.

On initial impressions, one would think that Miriam and Aaron were upset with Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. In everyday terms, a Cushite woman is a black woman – a woman descended from Noah’s grandson Cush. Geographically, it is  an ancient region of northeast Africa where the biblical descendants of Cush settled. I will not make this post about interracial marriage, but there it is in the Word early on, and it was not condemned by God. Let’s not get lured into that matter. The real issue is the challenge of of Moses’ leadership by Miriam and Aaron. Any of us can find a reason to challenge the leadership of God’s appointed leader – spiritual or not. Listen, “they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” This was the challenge. In essence, Miriam and Aaron was saying what’s so special about Moses. He is not the only one whom God has spoken through. Hasn’t God spoken through us too. Let’s not forget that the Tent of Meeting was the place where they went to meet with God. It was in the presence of God that this sin was committed. Since God is omnipresent, we do likewise.

It is not unusual for a leader to be criticized; however, we would not expect it to come from his own family. On the other hand, we know from the scriptures that it is not unusual for a prophet to be without honor among his own people (Matthew 13:57). We know that Miriam and Aaron’s motive was wrong because God heard it and addressed it as improper. While God holds both accountable, it appears that Miriam was the one who started the criticism and Aaron joined her. In verse four, we see God address it and reassert the proper order of thing in the manner in which He calls them out of the tent. “Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out.” Their actions lacked the honor/respect deserved by the man of God. Their attitudes were rooted in pride and not humility.

Remember that God Opposes the Proud, but gives Grace to the Humble. We see that here as well. Miriam and Aaron were the proud who failed to give honor to God’s appointed leader, Moses. God reaffirms His leader by stating a difference between others and Moses. God tells them that God speaks to Moses face to face through His voice not in visions and dreams like other prophets. Moses’ face was not literally looking at the literal face of God, but Moses enjoyed direct, intimate, conversation with the Lord. God goes on further to say that Moses has seen a form of God. Anyone else who had experienced that would have died, but since Moses is alive and leading God is saying I approve of Moses who are you to challenge his leadership. In fact God asks, “Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?” Essentially, God is saying this is my chosen leader. How dare you speak against who I have chosen. Why would you have such audacity to challenge me. When you speak against one whom I have obviously chosen, you are speaking against me. You are challenging me, and I am not having it.

While Miriam and Aaron deserved death, God made her leprous. Now, she was shamed as one seen as unclean. Now, Aaron, who had challenged the calling and commission of Moses as God’s primary leader, had to humble himself on behalf of his sister Miriam as well as himself for their prideful position. The lesson learned here is that we should not challenge God’s authority nor God’s clear leader. If we do, we will be humbled. Miriam and Aaron serve as examples for us to maintain our humility. Keep our mouths closed when we assert that we are just as good as God’s chosen leader. The goodnews here is that God restores after we sin. God is consistent in His message to us. When we sin, he offers restoration to us after we humble ourselves. We see that in Miriam who is allowed to reenter the camp after seven days. She was cured of her leprous skin as well as her spiritual uncleanliness of pride.

What impact or influence should this have on us for how we see our Pastor? How does this principle relate to us in the work place where we have bosses whom we may or may not feel should be serving? it is clear that God expects us to honor those whom He has placed in authority over us. This is especially true when it comes to the spiritual leader. We must watch what we say for we may be subject to being humbled over our prideful attitude and comments.

Will You Humble Yourself Before the LORD?

August 18, 2013

The question is not rhetorical nor is it optional. The Word of God is clear regarding mankind humbling itself before God. Romans 14:11 says, “For it is written, “ AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” Philippians 2:10 says, “o that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” There you have it right out of God’s Word. Since it’s not a matter of if but when, one would behoove himself to take advantage of humbling himself before God.

From the post A Tender Heart Responds to God’s Word, we know that King Josiah, who humbled himself before God over sin, personally averted experiencing God’s impending judgement (wrath) from the people’s disobedience in serving and worship other gods. Likewise through Jesus Christ, each man and woman has the opportunity to escape the wrath of God for his/her own sin. In 1 Kings 21:29, we know that Ahab experienced a partial pardoning for his sin. While he humbled himself for a specific situation, we saw God give him grace. The same is true for Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel. Because Nebuchadnezzar acted with pride in asserting that he had come into power and maintained his kingdom through his own vices, God banished him to the wilderness where he lived like a wild animal for years until Nebuchadnezzar looked up at heaven and humbled himself before God. God gave him grace and restored his kingdom to him. In Exodus 10:3, we see God extending grace to the Israelites. God regularly extends grace to us when we humble ourselves in various situations.

James 4:6 tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. While God is gracious and forgiving, there is one sin which can not  be forgiven. The sin that can not be forgiven is rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior from your sins. If one dies without acknowledging and surrendering to Christ as Lord and Savior, he will be condemned. In fact, John 3:18 tells us that he stands condemned already. Will you humble yourself before God? YES!!! You will. The question is when will you knee bow and your tongue confess. Is it now while you still have time or will it be when it is too late? You have influence over that situation. If you have already made that decision, but like many of us, you are doing your own thing rather than following God’s plan. The time is to humble yourself before the Lord to receive his mercy and grace.

God Opposes the Proud, but gives Grace to the Humble.

August 16, 2013

In the post Will you humble yourself before the LORD?, it was conveyed that all people whether now or later will humble themselves before Christ Jesus. Based on the inerrant and infallible Word of God, it’s not a matter of if but of when. As a consequence, it behooves us to humble ourselves before God especially since James 4:6 tells us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Moreover, there are many instances of God evidencing this truth in the lives of mankind when humility towards God was demonstrated.

This paragraph includes three examples of Conditional Humility. In 1 Kings 21:29, we see that Ahab experienced a partial pardoning for his sin when he humbled himself – for a minute. The same is true for Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. Likewise in Exodus 10:3, we see God extending grace to the Israelites. As an educator, one of the most effective instructional strategies is compare/contrast. Because we are innately inclined out of sin (pride) to compare, the human mind can easily process and comprehend this strategy. In all His wisdom, I am sure God takes that aspect of our character and learning into account when engaging us. Christ Jesus as well as the Father often uses compare/contrast as a means to teach. Inferred in the title of today’s post is that compare/contrast dynamic.

Let’s look at today’s text, Luke 18:9-14, to see another example of God opposing the proud but giving grace to the humble.

9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector,standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisee and tax collector contrast pride and humility. The Pharisee’s language was filled with “I”. That is a clear sign of pride. When one is always referencing him/herself, the underlying motivation is pride. God opposes the proud. Without taking too far of an excursion, I want to just ask why would anyone want to put themselves in an adversarial position with God. Being prideful, thinking more highly of yourself than you ought, puts you at odds with God. It is clear from 1 Kings 21:29Daniel 4Exodus 10:3 and today’s text that God gives grace to the humble.

1 Samuel 16:7 states, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” According to the traditions of the day, the Pharisee seemed devout and pious to people of the day. Tax collectors were viewed as thieves, cons and scourges. What did God see? In the parable, which one, the Pharisee or the Tax Collector, was justified by Christ? God saw the heart of the tax collector.

This declaration, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other” is highlighted by Jesus. It is the humility of the Tax Collector that is commended and rewarded. God’s desire for us is to put everything into His care. Simple, yet humble faith is what God desires. What are your top 3 cares today?

Be humble, and put them into God’s care.

Conditional Humility

August 14, 2013

As I neared the end of my Finance program for my undergraduate, we began studying something called situational ethics. In essence, the merit of demonstrating ethical behavior depended on the circumstance or condition one was facing. For example, conducting business in the United States of America requires one to follow one set of rules where as those rules, norms and expectations may not be present in another country where a multinational business has operations. One of the most understandable conditions was the use of large cash bribes. While it certainly happens here, it is against the law and rules of generally accepted business behavior. Conversely, it was generally accepted behavior in certain countries. In fact, it was reported that if one failed to provide a bribe he/she failed to procure business it sought.

As man interacts with God, we attempt to provide bribes and demonstrate situational ethics in the form of Conditional Humility. The currency of God is humility and faith. None can have one without the other. God is looking for man to have faith in Him; however, one cannot express faith, trust, dependence or reliance upon God unless he is humble. In the post Humility, humility was defined as 1) the having a humble opinion of one’s self, 2) a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness, 3) modesty, humility, lowliness of mind. This lowliness of mind is the opposite of pride. It is the example cited for us by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2.

Today, we go old school as in Old Testament to see a shining example of humility by looking at the negative. The focal character today is Pharaoh who repeatedly demonstrated Conditional Humility. Exodus 10 is just one of many examples of Pharaoh refusing to humble himself before God. Let me digress for a minute. Lowliness of mind should truly be held when we survey why Pharaoh refused to humble himself before God (v.20). If God does not open our hearts to acknowledge our lowliness of mind, we should understand that we will never humble ourselves before Him. We need to understand that God enables us to trust Him, so we are not all that.

In Conditional Humility, we only humble ourselves to get out of a jam, a pickle, a fix – that is an unsavory circumstance. Let’s see what Pharaoh’s pickle was in Exodus 10.

Exodus 10

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field. Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?” Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” 10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind.11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.” 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again.15 For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” 18 He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.

The humility that God desires is not Short-term Humility. It is not situational as it was with Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s humility was conditional. It was to get his country and himself out of a locust invasion as promised – one where “something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.” It was quite clear that locust had never covered the entire land and eaten every green thing to the visible eye. The prophecy which God had Moses proclaim had come true.

Like Moses, God has His Word and the messengers who carry His Word as warnings to the pharaohs of today. A pharaoh of today is any one who fails to humble himself/herself before God to worship God.  It is even more true of those who have a heavy influence on others. If one is leading others away from God, he/she is a pharaoh type. Where are you? Are you submitted and surrendered to God? What is God calling you to surrender in your life? Remember, he is saying to your inner pharaoh, let my man/woman go. If you have continuously failed to let God’s person go, pray to God pleading Him for the humility to surrender yourself. Those with Conditional Humility have not place in God’s kingdom. Just finish reading about Pharaoh if you don’t believe me. Be blessed today by being humble.

Humility

August 12, 2013

In the bible, humility and meekness are used interchangeably. There are subtle differences in those two words that are primarily used to represent the idea of Humility. For the sake of brevity, we will keep our references confined to the New Testament. As such, meekness or gentleness is closely associated with humility. The Hebrew words that represent meekness are Strong’s G4236 – praotēs 1) gentleness, mildness, meekness; and Strong’s G4240 – praÿtēs 1) mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. This connotes more how you respond.

The more common use for how we think of humility is Strong’s G5012 – tapeinophrosynē 1) the having a humble opinion of one’s self, 2) a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness, 3) modesty, humility, lowliness of mind. It is the use of humility in those verses that communicates not how we respond, but how we think of ourselves. This lowliness of mind is the opposite of pride. It is the example cited for us by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

The question God posed to me was “If Jesus, who was God incarnate, could humble himself to that which he created, how can you refuse to be humble?” The reality is that we all are very prideful, but I will keep this to me. We must, if we call ourselves Christians, take on the mind and character of Christ. Christ took on the nature of a servant. Mark 10:45 says, ”

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In that passage, the impetus that finally breaks the stony hearts of Jesus’ disciples is the example that He Himself gives. Jesus, the Son of Man who will inherit “dominion and glory and a kingdom” came to serve and not to be served.

That is a true example of how we should think, say and do. We should come to serve. Servants see themselves less than those whom they serve. God has first called us to serve Him then others. Self is mentioned last in Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. We are commanded to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ.

I readily admit that I struggle dearly with this one. Pride and selfishness are the cause of many sins, disgrace and arguments. Humility is the remedy for pride and selfishness. When you find yourself ready to fight for what you want or ready to argue, ask yourself if those actions are prompted out of pride and selfishness or humility.

Lord, help me to walk with you today. I want to walk in tandem with Jesus through the Spirit in a manner that is worthy of your name. I want to be humble as I know that I am nothing without you.