Humility

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Trembling at God’s Word

Posted by on 20 Nov 2011 | Tagged as: Humility, Puritans

For call those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

Isaiah 66:2 KJV

God is “looking,” he looking for a particular man or woman: one through whom he can speak, move, and bless. That person is a “humble” person, a person who knows that they cannot live life without Jesus. At its most basic, humility is seeing yourself as God sees you: dark yet lovely (Song of Songs 1:5), weak yet strong (2 Cor. 12:9), and poor yet spiritually rich (2 Cor. 5:21).

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself. Humility is not denigrating yourself by making yourself out to be less than the total person that God has gifted and called you to be as his servant.

Having a, “contrite spirit,” is similar to maintaining an attitude of humility: a contrite spirit is a heart that is broken, needy, and yearning for help. It’s having a sense of sin: the emotional damage caused by sin, the selfishness that wounds others, and the helplessness that paralyzes. Contriteness is an awareness that our sin has hurt God and others, but it also acknowledges that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness is greater than our failure.

Last, “trembling” at God’s Word is an attitude of submission, openness, and obedience to God’s spoken and written word.

In all, a believer that God uses is humble, contrite of heart, and submitted to God’s Word: the same character qualities that Jesus describes as  “poor in spirit” in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3). The “poor in spirit” acknowledges their complete and utter bankruptcy before God. Its admitting that we are spiritually, emotionally, and physically afflicted; completely unable to save ourselves.

In conclusion, the Lord is not looking for the adequate, successful, and influential: he seeks and supports those who know their need of him.

[God] has a heaven and earth of his own making, and a temple of man’s making; but he overlooks them all, that he may look with favour to him that is poor in spirit, humble and serious, self-abasing and self-denying, whose heart is truly contrite for sin, penitent for it, and in pain to get it pardoned, and who trembles at God’s word, not as Felix did, with a transient qualm that was over when the sermon was done, but with an habitual awe of God’s majesty and purity and an habitual dread of his justice and wrath. Such a heart is a living temple for God; he dwells there, and it is the place of his rest; it is like heaven and earth, his throne and his footstool.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), Isa. 66:1–4.

Biblical Childlikeness

Posted by on 05 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Humility

On Having a Childlike Heart

I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matt. 18:3-4 ESV

Biblical childlikeness is an attitude of neediness, dependence, and receptiveness to God. Childlikeness is a simple trust in the tender care of our heavenly Father. A childlike spirit is not to be confused with childishness: childishness is a refusal to take responsibility and an all-consuming focus on oneself. Childlikeness is not passivity, but trusts that God will work in and through us to serve others.

A child and a cynic walk through the shadow of death differently. A cynic focuses on the darkness and confusion. A person with childlike heart dwells on God’s goodness and faithfulness. A childlike heart know that difficulties await when living in a fallen world; they are confident that God’s grace is bigger and more powerful than Satan’s evil schemes.

Jesus celebrates the humility that comes from the child’s weakness, defenselessness, and vulnerability. The child can really do nothing for himself or herself and will die if left alone. It is this kind of humility that Jesus uses as a visual aid.

Michael J. Wilkins quoted in Grant R. Osbourne, Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Clinton E. Arnold, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 669.

 

God of the Humble, Miserable, and Afflicted

Posted by on 04 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Humility, Martin Luther

God of the Hurting

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

1 Peter 5:6 NLT

Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you: dark yet lovely (Song of Songs 1:5), weak yet strong (2 Cor. 12:9), and poor yet spiritually rich (2 Cor. 5:21). Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself. Humility is not denigrating yourself by making yourself out to be less than the total person that God has gifted and called you to be as his servant.

Humility is admitting your weaknesses, calling out to God for help, and depending completely on his strengthening grace. Humility is surrendering yourself to God the Father by allowing him to do in your life whatever he pleases, irrespective of what others might say about you or do to you. Humility is not allowing people to walk over you, but humility is allowing Christ to live his life in and through you.

[God is] the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed, the desperate, and of those who have been brought down to nothing at all…. [It is God’s character] to exalt the humble, to feed the hungry, to enlighten the blind, to comfort the miserable and afflicted, to justify sinners, to give life to the dead, and to save those who are desperate and damned.

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians (1535)

HT: writing in the dust

Humility in Today’s World

Posted by on 31 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: Humility, Jesus Christ, Jonathan Edwards

The Humility of Jesus

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matt 11:29 KJV

Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you: dark yet lovely (Song of Songs 1:5), weak yet strong (2 Cor. 12:9), and poor yet spiritually rich (2 Cor. 5:21). Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself. Humility is not denigrating yourself by making yourself out to be less than the total person that God has gifted and called you to be as his servant.

Humility is admitting your weaknesses, calling out to God for help, and depending completely on his strengthening grace. Humility is surrendering yourself to God the Father by allowing him to do in your life whatever he pleases, irrespective of what others might say about you or do to you. Humility is not allowing people to walk over you, but humility is allowing Christ to live his life in and through you.

God is brilliant, yet he speaks to us in simplicity and with great tenderness. God is all-powerful, yet he waits for a response from us to his love. God is perfect, yet he does not expect perfection from us. God is all knowing, yet he never grows impatience with our ignorance and inability to understand. God is truly humble: he became God incarnate in human flesh in order that you and I might know him.

A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.

Jonathan Edwards, Christian Quote of the Day, January 16, 2007; available from http://www.christianquote.com/.

Biblical Humility

Posted by on 30 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: Humility, Jonathan Edwards

humility

Humility Equals Dependence on God

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)

Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you: dark yet lovely (Song of Songs 1:5), weak yet strong (2 Cor. 12:9), and poor yet spiritually rich (2 Cor. 9:8). Humility is not thinking less of myself, but thinking less about myself. Humility is not denigrating myself by making myself out to be less than the total person that God has gifted and called me to be as his servant. Humility is admitting my weaknesses, calling out to God for help, and depending completely on his strengthening grace. Humility is surrendering myself to God the Father by allowing him to do in my life whatever he pleases irrespective of what others might say about me or do to me.

God is brilliant, yet he speaks to me in simplicity and with great tenderness. God is all-powerful, yet he waits for a response from me to his love. God is perfect, yet he does not expect perfection from me. God is all knowing, yet he never grows impatience with my ignorance and inability to understand. God is truly humble: he became God incarnate in human flesh in order that you and I might know him.

A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.

Jonathan Edwards, Christian Quote of the Day, January 16, 2007; available from http://www.christianquote.com/.

Today’s Humility

Posted by on 28 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: G.K. Chesterton, Humility

chesterton

Today’s Humility Doubts God

So humble yourselves before God.

(James 4:7 NLT)

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert-himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957), 31-32.

The Valley of Vision

Posted by on 04 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: Brokenness, Humility, Puritans

job-and-his-wife

The burden of the valley of vision (Isa. 22:1 KJV)

The valley of vision is the place of weakness, lowliness, and personal brokenness. In this scripture, the valley speaks of “life’s darker experiences” (Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 182), a sort of dark night of the soul. In the valley, we desperately reach out to Christ for help. In our neediness; we meet Christ, experience answered prayer, and are refreshed in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the valley, I come to know God by experience. As the ancient patriarch, Job announced, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). The valley is where we meet grace face-to-face and find that that God’s grace is greater than all our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:1-10).

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), xxiv.

HT: Tim Challies

Childlike Dependence

Posted by on 18 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Humility, John Stott

jesus

Humility Is Dependence

Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:4 RSV).

Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. In his public teaching ministry, Jesus commended humility as the pre-eminent characteristic of the citizens of God’s kingdom, and went on to describe it as the humility of a child …

Many people are puzzled by this teaching, since children are seldom humble in either character or conduct. Jesus must therefore have been alluding to their humility of status, not behavior. Children are rightly called ‘dependants’. They depend on their parents for everything. For what they know they depend on what they have been taught, and for what they have they depend on what they have been given. These two areas are, in fact, the very ones Jesus specifies when he develops the model of a child’s humility.

John Stott, “Pride, Humility and God” in Alive to God, ed. J. I. Packer and L. Wilkinson (Downers Grove: IVP, 1992), 118.

HT: Langham Partnership International