Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective

Malankara World Journal
Penta Centum Souvenir Edition
Volume 8 No. 500 October 14, 2018


Chapter - 15: Humility

Humble Before the Lord by Wes Saad

When we humble ourselves before God we will then be able to experience the kind of life God wants us to live. ...

More Than a Superiority Complex By Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

People with Superiority Complex focus on their self-importance because they are threatened by the feelings of inadequacy and impotency that they dare not face. Example from Old Testament...

Threats to Humility: Riches and Wealth by John MacArthur

Everything you have, God gave to you. Don't parade your possessions as if you obtained them through your self-created abilities. ...

Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy by John MacArthur

Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality. ...

Take Up Your Broom and Follow Me by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Make me a servant, humble and meek; Lord let me lift up those who are weak. ...The greatest person at this church is the greatest servant, because he is the one most like Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves." ...

Lessons on Humility from Matthew 21:23-32 and Philippians 2:1-13 by Steve Thomason

If we are going to be the community of God, then we must be willing to let go of our sense of power and authority. It means admitting when we're wrong and doing something about it. And it means looking out for each other. That is humility. ...

Of Humility by Dom Mark

Humility is to be contented with the meanest and worst of everything, and in all that is enjoined him to esteem himself a bad and worthless labourer, saying with the prophet: "I have been brought to nothing, and I knew it not: I am become as a beast before Thee, yet I am always with Thee." ...

Genuine Salt of Humility by Alistair Begg

Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self, God will fill them with His love. If we desire close communion with Christ, we should remember the word of the Lord: "This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:2) ...

Chapter - 15: Humility

Humble Before the Lord

by Wes Saad

Scripture: James 4:1–10

What do you think is the root of your own sinfulness? If you could peel back the layers of your sin, look beyond this or that particular sin you struggle with, what do you think you will find at the core? And what do you think is the proper antidote, the proper response to your sin that will bring healing and a pure life? These are the questions James addresses in our passage this morning, James 4:1-10.

We don’t know exactly who James was writing to, but from the tone of his letter they must have had many struggles. Among those struggles were conflicts within their own body. They made up a local body of believers and yet they lacked unity. They allowed certain petty differences to come between them, creating divisions.

James begins this section by exploring what is the root of their division. The people are quarreling and fighting, he even says they murder each other! What could lead one brother in Christ to treat another brother in Christ in this way? James tells us that their sin was caused by an even deeper problem – worldly desires. This is what he means when he says that their passions at war within them.

They want things. They long for stuff. They look around at the people around them and see their neighbors will all the things they want to possess, and they grow jealous, envious, they desire to possess what they do not have. When they cannot get what they want, they grow tempted to murder in order to obtain. They fight with one another. They think, "If I cannot have his stuff, I will at least have the greater respect of the community!" And so there was bickering and fighting, clamoring for social status, as we have seen in previous weeks.

This bickering was not always directed against those who had the things they wanted. Often it was against those who were of lower status. As we saw back at the start of chapter two, the people were mistreating those who were poor, treating the rich with special favor. The poor were treated unjustly while they tried to win special status with the rich. And at the root of all of this were their own selfish desires, their sinful pursuits of the pleasures of the flesh.

James gives two reasons for their not having the things they were seeking. For one, they simply were not asking. Scripture time and again tells us to approach God in prayer, to seek from him the things that we need in life. If what we ask is favorable to the will of God, then God will grant us those things. But it has to be favorable to his will. God does not exist to serve our whim. I do not care what the latest televangelist prosperity preacher has said, God does not exist so that you can be healthy, wealthy, and wise. His primary plan for your life is that you would bring him glory. Just behind that is that you would live a holy life. Each of these goals might mean something other than a life of ease and luxury. God does often call for his people to suffer. Do not fear such things, but trust him.

The second reason they did not have what they sought is because on the rare occasion that they did ask, they asked with the wrong motives. God saw their request for what it was: a selfish scrambling for pride and power. God does not bless us so that our own lives can be enriched. God blesses us so that we can use the blessing for the good of many people. And these people James writes were seeking no one’s good but their own. They were looking for their own pleasures. They could care less what happens to the poor man down the street or the old woman on her deathbed.

These people were not displaying any of the characteristics of a believer. Instead their lives looked very much like the world. The last time we were in James we compared God’s wisdom with worldly wisdom as described in James 3:13-18. Godly wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, bears good fruits, impartial, and sincere. By contrast, the wisdom of the world has jealousy and selfish ambition and breeds only disorder and every vile practice. Which do you think these people were living? Which are you living? What kinds of things motivate your life? Is it your desire for ease and luxury, or is there a desire for the glory of God so that you do not seek your own good but the good of others? Are you living according to the flesh or according to God?

These people were seeking friendship with the world. We often share many of the values of the people we have as friends. You usually are not friends with people radically different from you. Just so, these people, though they were believers, lived lives much closer to those of the world than those of God. And so they sought friendship with the world. But one cannot live as a child of God while being a friend of the world. Jesus died to bring forgiveness of sins and to free us from the chains of the flesh, of worldliness. While we lived according to the pattern of the world we were enemies of God. But God in Christ has made us free and has reconciled us to God. Why would we go back to that old life in the flesh wherein we are the enemies of God? James makes this point very clear – to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God. Are you friends with the world? Then you make yourself an enemy of God!

Verse 5 contains a somewhat cryptic message that isn’t helped by the fact that different Bible versions offer different translations. The NIV and the King James say something like, "Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?" while the ESV and some others say, "Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?" On this the ESV does the better job of translating the passage. Every translation has its strengths and weaknesses, but since we are dealing with translations rather than the original language it is helpful for us to rely on several versions when we are working with a passage. This does not diminish the value of any one translation, the NIV and the King James are both good translations to use, but it does show we need to be careful when studying the Bible. For your devotional reading every day, just pick a translation you like. But if some verse in particular catches your eye and you want to study it deeper, it will be helpful to read the same passage in a variety of versions to see how the different translators handled the original language.

But in this case the verse best reads, "Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?" Each of us has been created as unique individuals with characteristics that make us more than just a biological machine. We are like the other animals, but we are not animals, per se. Because we have been formed in the image of God and brought to life by the breath of God we are of a different order than the beasts of creation. One difference is the spirit that has been created within us. I don’t want to dive into this too far, in part because I really don’t understand it myself, but I will demonstrate the spirit with another passage, Luke 23:46, when Jesus dies on the cross: "Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last." It would be that part of you which makes you you. Something more than just the functioning of the mind. Something which, I believe, is distinct and unique in each person. And our passage in James says that God yearns jealously for that part of you. He is not interested in your flesh, the physical form you carry around. This is why he is willing for that part of you to suffer or even be destroyed. He is interested in YOU.

In this part of the passage there is a lot of imagery from the Old Testament. Throughout much of the Old Testament we find the people of God living in rebellion of God and turning to the gods of foreign lands. Particularly toward the end of the Old Testament the people are living in open rebellion and idolatry. The language God often uses through his prophets is this language of love and longing for his people, that he yearns for them. We are told in the ten commandment, Exodus 20:5, that "I the Lord your God am a jealous God". God doesn’t react idly when we turn aside to idols, whatever those idols may be. He is jealous over us. Will we do like the ancient Israelites and turn aside to the lusts of the flesh, the delights of the world, when the creator of the universe is jealous over us?

In verse 6 James tells us that God gives greater grace. Here he is comparing the benefits of following God with the benefits of following the world. The only thing you can gain by following the world is the status of being an enemy of God. That is it. That is the only thing of significance that can come from living in rebellion against God. But to live as a child of God is to live in the comfort of his grace and love. And so James quotes Proverbs 3:34 in reminding us that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." If you act as an enemy of God then you will be treated as an enemy of God, receiving opposition from God. But if you humble yourself before him you will experience all the more grace.

Here we begin to see the antidote to our sinfulness, the antidote to the worldliness that dwells within. Humility, not pride. Seeking God, not seeking things for self.

In verse 7 we are told to submit ourselves to God. Literally the verse reads, "be subject to God". God already holds all authority in the universe. We are already below him. We are already under his authority. The question is whether or not we are willing to recognize the fact. Will you live in the knowledge of the authority of your God? Or do you live as though he were nothing more than one of the many forces in the universe and you can choose which you want to follow at any given moment? Will you recognize the authority of God and bow to that authority? Bow in worship and obedience?

Submit yourselves to God. Doing this involves several things. For one, it means opposing his enemy, the devil. Once you were friends of the devil. Once you were as those Pharisees Jesus addressed in John 8:44 when he called the devil their father. But now you have submitted to the rule of God and have turned aside from the ways of the world. So now you oppose the devil. You resist him! When he comes with his temptations of worldly delights you do not pay heed but you resist him through the power of God. And he will flee from you. One thing Satan hates is to see the power of God at work in the life of the believer. This might mean he wants to attack you all the more but never will he overcome you. Each time he will flee from the power of God.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Have you felt a great distance between you and your Father in Heaven? It could be that he is growing your faith in him, testing you to strengthen you. Or it could be that you have not drawn near to him. You go through your days wondering why God is not with you when you have not gone after him yourself. Seeking him in prayer, in Scripture, in service.

The end of verse 8 issues a call for repentance: "Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." How can we do these things? Not by any works that we perform. None of our actions are able to bring cleansing and purity. Only God can do that. And so to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts is to approach God with true repentance. Taking our sins to him and trusting in him to make us whole and new. Turning aside completely from worldliness, approaching him in humility, and seeking his forgiveness.

Verse 9 may seem somewhat puzzling but it goes along with repentance. Why does James tell us to be wretched, mournful, and weeping? Why should we turn from laughter and joy to mourning and gloom? Because we are sinful creatures and we have finally learned just how severe our sin is. Do you realize what sin lives within you? Do you realize just how much you rebel against God? Do you know that by your sin you make yourself an enemy of God? That sin is a foul stain in the presence of the Lord? Be wretched and mourn before God as you go to him in repentance. James is not saying one should always be this way, but when you go to God with repentance, this should be your attitude. Not some happy-go-lucky frivolous approach from God in which we sort of just dance up to him with our sins knowing he will forgive us. No, realize the severity of your sin and what your sin means to God. Once you rejoiced in your sinful ways. But let your rejoicing be turned to mourning as you go before God to confess to him your sin.

James wraps up this section in verse 10 with another call for humility. Humble yourselves before the Lord your God. What an enemy pride is. What a struggle it brings for most of us. How deadly it can be, for through pride we make ourselves enemies of God. As enemies of God the only end is to be crushed to the earth. But we must be humble before God. Once again James literally says, "be humbled before God", reflecting the fact that in truth we are already humbled before him, before the God who is so much greater than we are. The question is whether or not we will live in recognition of the fact that God is great and we are small. Though small God loves us and sent his Son to die for our sins, to give us the way of repentance, the way to life with him.

When we humble ourselves before God we will then be able to experience the kind of life God wants us to live. With the life of God we will not be crushed to the earth but we will be exalted. Paul says this in Colossians 3:3-4 "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Experiencing and sharing in the glory of God should not be what motivates you. If it is then you will not experience it for you have fallen back into worldliness, selfish desire. Bringing glory to God should be what motivates you. Desiring to submit yourself before him, humbling yourself before him, so that all of your life is a testimony to his greatness and his grace. Not drawn aside to the lusts of the flesh which lead only to enmity with God, but following faithfully after your Savior, trusting him with all things.

Copyright 2018 Faithlife

 More Than a Superiority Complex

By Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

The term "inferiority complex" is one with which we are all familiar with. There are individuals who are haunted and hampered by a lack of self-worth, a phenomenon which was noted by early 20th century psychologist Alfred Adler. It was he who coined the phrase "inferiority complex" to help describe the underlying factors involved in such a condition.

Adler also coined the twin phrase "superiority complex." This term characterizes individuals who have an inflated sense of self-worth. Such individuals are impressed with their own self-importance and think of themselves as being better than others. Adler, however, insisted that those of us who think of ourselves as superior are in truth compensating for deep-rooted feelings of inferiority. For Adler, this exaggerated sense of self-worth helps us defend against the feelings of inferiority which are unacceptable to our conscious selves. We focus on our self-importance because we are threatened by the feelings of inadequacy and impotency that we dare not face.

I have long found Adler's theory fascinating and have often wondered about the degree to which his concepts apply to the heroes and villains of the Bible. Was Moses, for example, the humblest of men, burdened by an "inferiority complex?" I think not. I prefer to believe that there is a fundamental difference between authentic humility and feelings of inferiority. A humble man knows very well that he has strengths and talents and skills. The fact that he does not boast about them publicly does not mean that he considers himself inferior.

What about the "superiority complex?" Are there characters in the Bible who were convinced that they were better than others? Here I respond with a resounding, "Yes." Numerous persons in our sacred scriptures considered themselves superior to others. Some of them went so far as to conceive of themselves as ubermenschen, as supermen. Friedrich Nietzsche, who introduced the term "ubermensch" into the world of literature, described such a person as "the ideal superior man who could rise above morality to create and impose his own values."

The Midrash Rabbah, based in part upon a passage in this week's Torah portion, Vaeira (Exodus 6:1-9:35), enumerates four biblical characters who imagined themselves as ubermenschen, believing that they were above conventional morality and could impose their values upon others. But the Midrash does not simply describe them as four individuals with "superiority complexes." Instead, the Midrash states: "There were four who considered themselves gods."

Who were these four individuals, these "gods," for whom even the status of "supermen" was insufficient? The Midrash lists them: Hiram, King of Tyre; Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon; Pharaoh, King of Egypt; and Yoash, King of Judah. What do we know of these four men, and what may have led them to the preposterous assumption that they were superhuman, indeed divine?

The Midrash begins by quoting the specific references in the Bible to the claims that each of these four men made, asserting that they indeed were gods. And the Midrash demonstrates how all four met defeat and degradation. But the Midrash begs the question, "How could four intelligent men delude themselves in such an outlandish and brazen manner?"

This question is all the more relevant when asked of someone like Hiram of Tyre, who assisted King Solomon in constructing the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem. How could a man capable of such generosity and piety allow himself to believe that he was a god?

King Yoash is described in the Bible as an upright King and as a disciple of the High Priest Yehoyada. How did such a man yield to the foolish temptation of asserting his divinity? The 18th century rabbinic sage, Rabbi Yehonasan Eybeshutz, sharpens the question and asks in his commentary on the haftoros for Parshas Shekalim, "Did not Yehoyada teach the young king Yoash everything he needed to know? Did he not teach him not to dare think of himself as a god?"

Rabbi Eybeshutz' answer is an interesting one. He suggests that Yehoyada could anticipate many mistakes that the young king might eventually make, and he admonished him not to make those mistakes. But lo ala al da'ato-he could not ever imagine that a human being could make the mistake of thinking of himself as a god, so it never occurred to him to warn Yoash not to do so.

One approach to answering the puzzle of the grandiosity that leads some intelligent men astray is the insight of Alfred Adler, mentioned at the beginning of this essay. He believes that this "superiority complex" is a defense against an inner conviction of one's inferiority. Adler's theory, however, does not seem to fit the four biblical characters whom the Midrash enumerates. We find no trace of hidden "inferiority complexes" in the biographical material that the Bible provides us about Hiram, Nebuchadnezzar, Yoash, and Pharaoh.

I have found another approach to understanding this grotesque claim of divinity in the writings of a man named Rabbi Chaim Zeitchik, of blessed memory. Rabbi Zeitchik was a Holocaust survivor, and his exposure to suffering sharpened the skills he learned in the famed Yeshiva of Novardok, a yeshiva known for its emphasis on understanding the human psyche.

About The Author:

Rabbi Zeitchik teaches us that success in life is a spiritual test. Many people are so carried away by material success that they begin to believe that they have unusual powers. Some go far as to believe that these powers are supernatural. Some, like our four "heroes," come to believe that the success they have experienced is proof positive that they are gods, immune to failure and even immortal.

Source: jewish world review

Threats to Humility: Riches and Wealth

by John MacArthur

"Walk . . . with all humility" (Ephesians 4-1-2).

Our possessions and positions in life are from God; we can't take credit for them.

Many today take pride in their economic status. They boast about their riches and trust their money, thinking they must be great for acquiring all they have. But remember what Moses said to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land:

"You may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth" (Deut. 8:1718).

Everything you have, God gave to you. Don't parade your possessions as if you obtained them through your self-created abilities.

A related area is pride in one's class, which involves looking down on those in "lower" levels of society. Such people don't want lower-class people in their neighborhoods and certainly wouldn't invite them to dinner. If you are guilty of this sort of pride, keep in mind that God loves poor people. Jesus Himself was poor in this world and spent most of His time ministering to the poor.

Sometimes in moving up the social ladder, people may demand a certain kind of treatment. They expect the best of everything and get offended when they don't receive it. One of the things Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for was this: "They love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi" (Matt. 23:6-7). Resist the temptation to seek worldly honor, glamour, and privileges.

Advertisers today continually entice us to draw attention to ourselves by what we wear. But undue attention to appearance can make people haughty, boastful, and indulgent, trying to show themselves as better than others. God hates that sin (Isa. 3:16-26).

John said, "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. . . . The world is passing away, and also its lusts" (1 John 2:15, 17). Don't let the world tell you what you should seek or value. Remember instead that "the one who does the will of God abides forever" (v. 17).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to give you contentment with your present status and to help you reach out to those not so blessed.

For Further Study

Read Luke 14:8-10; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; and James 2:2-8 and see if you are guilty of materialism or social pride.

Source: Grace to

Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy

by John MacArthur

"Walk . . . with all humility" (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, "You're not my boss." Mark replied, "Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you." So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21-22: "Herod, having put on his royal apparel . . . began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!'" He loved the attention. What happened? "Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died" (v. 23).

Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It's easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I'm still learning.

The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matt. 23:27-28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting "Christianly," but your heart may be full of sin.

Suggestions for Prayer

Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

For Further Study

Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn't trivial to God; it shouldn't be to us either.

Source: Grace to

Take Up Your Broom and Follow Me

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Gospel: Mark 10:45

If you have your Bible, begin with me in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 22. It is Thursday night in the Upper Room. Jesus and the disciples have just celebrated the Lord's Supper. The shadow of the cross hangs over the room. In just minutes Jesus will be betrayed and arrested and tried. The road to the cross will be open. What do you think they were thinking about in the Upper Room at such a holy moment?

Luke 22:24 tells us. "Also, a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest." That makes sense. You're in the Upper Room with the Son of God and you've just had the Lord's Supper. He's giving you his final words, as he's about to be crucified. The salvation of the world is about to be accomplished, and you're arguing about who's greater, James or John, Peter or Bartholomew, Matthew or James the Less.

At least it's very human. It's understandable. Jesus said to them,

"The kings of the gentiles lord it over them and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors, but you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you shall be like the youngest; the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves."

This is The Year of the Servant at Calvary Memorial Church. Our theme verse is Luke 22:27 "I am among you as one who serves." I want to call your attention to these two beautiful banners done by Soo Ai Kudo every year. On one, a hand with the cross is reaching out to another about to take it. And the other one gives our theme verse and the scene from John 13. The man with his hands up is Peter, and the man on his knees is Jesus. Looks like something's wrong with that picture. Looks like it ought to be the other way around. But there is Jesus on his knees with the towel and the basin, about to wash Peter's dirty feet.

Some of you may wonder how we come up with these things. It's not just happenstance. We've been thinking for some time about what to do for this year and as I thought about it, the Lord laid this on my heart. As I thought about it, I had two or three things in mind for this year, but the Lord kept bringing me right back here. In fact, the Lord brought me back to this verse. I couldn't get it out of my mind. This is the verse for this church this year, not chosen by committee, but chosen, I believe, by the Lord for this church at this time, at this place. "I am among you as one who serves."

So as I thought about January and what to preach on, it seemed like we should take a few weeks to talk about servanthood. The title of this series is Servants Unlimited because that ought to be the subtitle of the Christian church.

When Soo Ai was designing these banners, I gave her the title and the text. I didn't give her anything else. She asked me a question that is very interesting. She said, "Pastor Ray, I need to put something visual on there. What would be a universally accepted symbol for servanthood?" I scratched my head and told her I would get back to her on it. She is still waiting for my phone call. That's a hard question. There are symbols for so many things. We know the hammer and the sickle is the symbol for communism and when we see the snake entwined around the pole it is the symbol of a medical doctor, when we see the barber pole it's the sign of a barber, but what's the sign of a servant? What would be a universal symbol that when you saw it, you would say, "Ah, a servant is in the area"?

What Soo Ai did was to choose the one symbol that has always been accepted throughout the history of the Christian church, the towel and the basin, and Jesus washing the disciples feet. What would be the modern equivalent? I was thinking about what to call this first sermon. I talked to my boys about it. My oldest son Joshua thought for a minute and blurted out, "Call it 'Pick Up Your Broom'." I meditated on that for a minute and remembered the words of Jesus, "Take up your cross and follow me." Take up your broom and follow me.

That set me to studying the whole question of servanthood, what it is and what it means. So I looked at what the Bible had to say. Then I thought it would be interesting to see how the dictionary defines a servant. Here is the dictionary definition.

"Someone privately employed to provide domestic services, like a maid; someone publicly employed to perform services, as for a government, e.g. public servant, civil servant."

That didn't help me very much, so I went to my shelf and pulled down Roger's Thesaurus. I looked up the word servant to see what synonyms are listed in the English language for the word servant. It is very eye-opening to discover how Roger's finds synonyms for servant. Here is what it says.

"A servant is an assistant, an underling, a subordinate, a hireling, a waiter, an usher, an office boy, a page, a bell boy, a boot black, a lackey, a stooge, a maid, a hired girl, a bedmaker, a milkmaid, a serf, a vassal, a captive, a slave."

I looked under adjectives and found "menial, low, lowly, abject, base, mean and servile." Well no wonder nobody wants to be a servant! With a definition like that, it's not much to put on your resume. I was a milkmaid. I was a servile bellboy. When you read words like that, you understand why that is so rare—because servant in our culture has a bad name.

Chuck Swindoll wrote a book about it. You have probably seen it. It is called Improving Your Serve. He wrote it 12 or 13 years ago. In fact, it came out of a sermon series in his church in California much like the one that I am preaching here. It is fascinating to read what Swindoll has to say in the introduction and first chapter of his book. He said that when he approached the whole question of servanthood, he was very negative about it. He said, "I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to study it. It didn't seem very interesting to me. The whole idea of being a servant sounded negative. In fact, to me, when I thought of the word servant, I thought of Roots, African slaves and migrant workers who aren't paid very much and who are abused. In fact, when I thought of the word servant, I thought of a human mule." That's a good word picture. Just some dumb animal that is abused and misused and you lay your burdens on and don't take any care for. And he said, "Who wants to be a human mule?"

That made me think of the motto of the California Conservation Corps which I saw years ago. That's an organization out in California to entice young people to come in and give a year or two to work for the state in the forest or building roads and bridges and things like that. Their motto was "Long hours, hard work, low pay." You would see that on a billboard. That was their enticement. That is what we think when we think of being a servant. Long hours, hard work, low pay. It doesn't sound like very much fun.

Swindoll makes the comment in his book that he went to the Christian book store and couldn't find much on servanthood. He found a lot about self fulfillment and getting your needs met, and handling your problems, but not much on servanthood. That was 12 or 13 years ago. You still won't find much in your average Christian bookstore about being a servant. It is just not a popular subject.

But I find it interesting how much the Bible has to say about this subject. In fact, let me just point out to you a couple of interesting Biblical facts.

1) Servant was Paul's favorite title for himself. "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ." In fact, in almost every one of his letters that's how he introduces himself—in Romans, I Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Thessalonians. It's not "Paul the big shot," but "Paul the servant of Jesus Christ."

2) Jesus Christ himself is presented to us as the model or ultimate servant. Consider these two points.

a) When Jesus came to the earth, he came in the form of a servant.

Philippians 2 states

"Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing."

What does it mean "made himself nothing?" Taking the very nature of a servant. The definition of being made nothing is becoming a servant. Being made in human likeness. Christmas is not only the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords, it is the birth of God's servant. That little baby in the manger was born to be a servant.

b) Not only that, but Jesus Christ came to show us how a servant lives and how a servant dies. I don't know if you paid any attention to the passage in Mark 10:45, "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." He came to show us how a servant lives and how a servant dies.

Back to Luke 22. Who is the greatest? "The kings of the gentiles lord it over them." What does that mean?

We live in a world where greatness is measured by power, position, perks. In this world your position is measured by how much education you have, how many degrees you have after your name, what your title is, how much money you make, what your net worth is, how many people you can command, how many people you can pick up and call on the phone and know will have to return your call back.

In this world, your greatness is measured by the car you drive, the size of your office and all of those outward things. You know what, if we were to go out in the world and take a survey and ask who are the ten greatest people in America, you know who they would name? They'd name people in the White House, people in the Supreme Court, people in Congress, the entertainers with all the money; then they would name the leaders, the C.E.O.'s of the Fortune 500 companies, the powerful people of the world. They would call those the greatest.

And Jesus said it may be that way out there, but it shall not be that way in here. In here among the people of God, greatness will be determined another way.

How, then, is greatness to be determined in the family of God?

Read on.

"For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?"

It is obviously a true statement. In just a few moments, you may go out to eat. You may go up here to Nielsen‘s or to the Homestead. When you go to a restaurant to eat today, you'll be a great person because the waiter or waitress will come and serve you, will give you a menu, will take your order, will do your bidding, will do exactly what you say. You will be in charge. You'll be the great one. And when the meal is over, you'll walk away and forget about that man or woman who served you. You will never even see the person who washed the dishes or prepared the meal.

But you listen carefully. If Jesus were to go to Nielsen's today, he wouldn't be sitting at the head table like some almighty big shot. You wouldn't even see Jesus, because he'd be back in the kitchen washing the dishes, preparing the food. That is what a servant does. He'd be the one to come out and give you the menu and take your order, then he'd disappear and you wouldn't notice him. A servant is that unseen person who just does what needs to be done.

The point ought to be made here that servants do whatever needs to be done. They don't wait to be asked, they don't wait to be told. They don't have to be assigned anything. If you're a servant, you don't look on the list to see what you're supposed to do today. You just find something to do and you do it. Servants serve voluntarily, on their own initiative.

That is what Jesus did. Wherever there was a need, that's where Jesus was. If there was somebody sick, what did he do? He healed them. If there was somebody mourning, what did he do? He comforted them. If somebody was hungry, he fed them. Today the most likely place where you will find Jesus Christ is not necessarily in a church at 11:00 on Sunday morning. The most likely place is out there with the forgotten people, with the hurting people, with the homeless, with the people with A.I.D.S., with the migrant workers, with the people who are down and out, because that's where you found Jesus 2,000 years ago and that's where you're likely to find him today.

It's not easy. It is easier for me to talk about it or preach about it. Swindoll said that in his book. "As I have studied this, I have been very convicted, because I am not very much of a servant. It is easier to write this than it is to live it."

I confess to you that is exactly the way I feel today. It is much easier to preach this than to live this kind of life. You know why? As I stand here this morning, I'm looking up into those bright lights. I make my living looking into those bright lights. I come here on Sunday and talk to you, and all of you look and listen. There is a parking space reserved for me, a big office for me up on the second floor. I don't say it comes easy to me. It doesn't. But I'll tell you something. Maybe that's one reason why the Lord laid this on my heart, because it is where I need to be this year.

You can always tell what is on a Pastor's heart by listening to what he preaches about. We tend as pastors to preach about what we really need.

  • We preach on prayer because we need to pray.
  • We teach on giving because we need to give.
  • We teach on love because we need more love.
  • We teach on boldness because we need courage and
  • We teach on servanthood because we need to become more like Jesus Christ.

I looked in the hymnbook to see how many hymns there were about servanthood. Not too many. I did find that little chorus by Kelly Willard "Make me a servant, humble and meek, Lord, help me lift up those who are weak; and may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today." I want us not only to sing that, but to pray it.

I am going to ask and answer a question. What difference will it make in this church if we decide to take servanthood seriously? How will we know if it is really happening here? How will we see it? Let me give you six quick answers to that question.

1) There will be a big increase in the volunteer spirit. Barna and all these other people are right on the church today. They say that this generation, my generation, the baby boomers, love to come to church as consumers. We love to come to get, to receive, to be consumer-oriented. We don't come to give anything. I think there is a lot of truth to that, because I see it in my own life. A servant doesn't say, "What do you want me to do?" A servant says "Where can I help?" Maybe a servant doesn't say anything, he just grabs the basin and a towel and starts washing dirty feet.

2) We‘ll see a decrease in the amount of criticism and backtalk and gossip that goes on. A servant doesn't have time to criticize or gossip. If you're going to be washing dirty feet, that's going to take all day and you won't have time to offer extraneous opinions on anything else. You can be a critic or you can be a servant, but I don't think that you can be both for very long.

3) There will be a new emphasis on the practical side of Christianity. You know I believe in Bible doctrine and in theology and I preach it to you all the time, but the Bible also says that faith without works is dead. If we're really going to believe in servanthood, we're going to talk more about the practical side of Christianity. We will see a new emphasis on caring and doing and getting out there to where the hurting people are. We will see people down at Circle Urban Ministries, Inner City Impact, Lawndale Community Church. We'll see people out in our community caring for the hurting, for the dying, for the needy, for the lonely, for the homeless and for the helpless. We will see a big emphasis around here on the practical side of Christianity if we take servanthood seriously.

4) We will have a new standard for choosing our leaders. In any church there is always the temptation when it comes to choosing leaders that you'll choose the rich people, the long time church members, the people who are successful from a business point of view, those who always speak out at the business meetings, who seem to know all the answers, the ins and outs of church politics. Wait a minute. I'm not saying that those qualities aren't important. But too often we choose leaders according to those standards alone. If servanthood becomes important, do you know who we will start choosing as our leaders? We will find the servants.

5) There will be a deeper appreciation of those who labor behind the scenes. I feel this quite strongly because I realize that in my position I get a lot of perks. In my better moments it bothers me. Not that I am thanked and appreciated, but that so many people who do so much more than I do are forgotten. Somebody printed the bulletin and somebody made the slides, somebody swept up, but we don't even think about that. Somebody works with your children in AWANA so they will learn the word of God. All I'm saying is that I'm not the important person around here. Don't ever think that because I don't think that. I could be taken off the scene and this church would go right on because the beauty of this church is that there are people behind the scenes who sacrifice everything for Jesus Christ. They are the real heroes and heroines of this body of Christ, not me. And if servanthood really becomes important, we're going to start elevating those unseen heroes and heroines and start honoring them for their work.

6) We're going to see lots of new people coming to Jesus Christ. Why is that? Because if you are following Jesus, you are following a servant. What do servants do? They make Jesus beautiful. People may not understand my sermons, they may not understand your theology and big words, they may not understand some passage of Scripture. When you wash their dirty feet, they will understand that, because the act carries with it its own explanation.

Here's my application. Make me a servant, humble and meek; Lord let me lift up those who are weak. I want us to begin to pray that: make me a servant. And I have a special prayer that I want you to pray along with that. This is an assignment for the first week of the new year, Servanthood 101.

I want you at the beginning of each day, to pray "Lord, make me a servant."

Then at the end of each day this week, I want you to think back to everybody you've met, the person on the elevator, the guy who filled up your tank with gas, co-workers, the guy across the street you waved at, friends, people in class.

Before you go to bed, think about everybody you met, everybody who makes up your little world each day. Then begin to pray for them.

The hardest part of being a servant is opening your eyes. We're all so self-centered. We're all so locked in our own problems and needs that we don't see the people around us. If you pray for those you've met every night before you go to bed this week, it will revolutionize your life. You will discover that there are more opportunities to be a servant this week than you have ever dreamed. Your problem is that those people are just passing you by, and you are so self-centered and so preoccupied, you're not even seeing them. God will open doors for you this week.

Who's the greatest person at Calvary Memorial Church? I don't know who it is, but I know who it isn't. It's not me. The greatest person at this church is the greatest servant, because he is the one most like Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves." Let's take the first step this week in becoming like Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, you came to earth as a servant. We know you as Savior and Lord. Show us this year what it means to know you as a servant. Amen.

© Keep Believing Ministries

Lessons on Humility from Matthew 21:23-32 and Philippians 2:1-13

by Steve Thomason


Matthew 21:23-32
Philippians 2:1-13

Once there was a lion. The lion was proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom. One day he decided to make sure all the other animals knew he was the king of the jungle. He was so confident that he by-passed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. “Who is the king of the jungle?” the lion asked. The bear replied, “Why you are, of course” The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. Next he asked the tiger, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The tiger quickly responded, “Everyone knows that you are, mighty lion ”

Next on the list was the elephant. The lion faced the elephant and addressed his question, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times and slammed him into a tree. Then he pounded him onto the ground several times, dunked him under water in a nearby lake, and finally dumped him out on the shore. The lion–beaten, bruised, and battered–struggled to his feet.

He looked at the elephant through sad and bloody eyes and said, “Look, just because you don't know the answer is no reason for to get mean about it!”

Ah yes, how many of us often live with that kind of self-delusion.

Today we are concluding our series called living together. We're asking the question, “How can we be the kind of community that God wants us to be?”

3 weeks ago I started this series off talking about the first step in living in community is to learn how to fight well. We learned that conflict is the gateway to intimacy and we need to confront in love.

Two weeks ago Pastor Mark took us deeper into that topic and helped us understand the key to the gate. Forgiveness.

Last week Pastor Chris answered the “Why” question. Why should we work through conflict and forgive each other? The answer is E.G.G.; the Extravagant Generosity of God.

Today we conclude this series by looking at the key ingredient that must be present if any of this is going to work. It is the binding agent that holds the whole recipe together.

If we are going to live together as the community of God, then we have to learn what lion needed to learn, HUMILITY.

So, how do you preach about humility? I mean, really? I'm supposed to say, “let me tell you how to be humble, after all…I'm the humblest guy I know.”I don't think so.

We need to take a moment and just remember that this is not me telling you anything. This is us submitting ourselves to what God has to say to us through the scripture. This is why I love preaching from the lectionary. I didn't choose these texts, they've been determined for a long time.

It is my job to help us listen to what God is saying here.

In our two texts today we see that there are 3 Aspects of Humility.

First, let's look at the Gospel lesson. The lectionary has moved us along in the Gospel of Matthew and we are now at the end of chapter 21. Since last week Jesus has literally crossed over a threshold in his story. He has entered the gate of Jerusalem.

We like to call this the Triumphal Entry. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people go wild. They're waving palm branches and shouting out “Hosanna!” This is the peak of Jesus' popularity.

Then he goes to the temple and sees that the temple leaders have set up tables where they are selling animals to the pilgrims who have come to town for the best festival. They're basically extorting the poor and making a profit off of religious goods.

Jesus get mad and he turns over their tables and says that they've turned his father's house into a den of thieves and robbers.

And then he does something really important. After the dust has settled from his tirade, he shows us what God's people are supposed to be about. He reminds the leaders of Israel that this is supposed to be a house of prayer and then he shows them what it looks like to be God's people. He reaches out and touches the untouchable. He reminds the leaders that God is less interested in proper religious ceremony than he is in reaching out to the people in need.

This brings us to the first part of our text in verse 23. The leaders respond to Jesus They say, “by what authority are you doing this?” in other words, “Who do you think you are, Jesus?”

Here's where we see the first aspect of Humility.

It's about AUTHORITY

I have to admit, if I were those religious leaders and Jesus came in and did that to my place of worship, I think I would have reacted the same way.

Let's think of it this way. Imagine that you are the CEO of a big corporation. You've earned the right to be in this position. You've got an MBA, you worked your way up the ladder.

Then one day some low-ranked office clerk starts spouting off around the office about how she thinks the corporation should be run…and people listen to her. Soon many of the workers are singing the same song and they're starting to make you look like some kind of dinosaur.

What do you?

Now let's say that the corporation is IBM and it is the early 90's. The young employee is a guy who has been tuned into this new-fangled idea called the internet and he starts telling people that if IBM doesn't get their act together that you'll be left in the dust.

That is where the execs at IBM found themselves. They were faced with a choice. Do they protect their authority and power, or do they listen to this low-ranking nobody and change their perspective.

They listened, and they changed, and IBM was able to transition into the new world of cyberspace.

When we think about the church and about trying to be the community of God, how often do we run right into this issue of Authority and power struggles.

What are the seven last words of the church? We've never done it that way before. We think, “this is MY church, this is how I like it. Don't change anything on me.”

Can we be really honest for a minute. Have you ever walked into worship and realized. “There's somebody in my seat!” When we say it, it sounds silly and petty, but it's true, isn't it.

We don't like change, we don't like people challenging our ideas or ways of doing things. I totally get that.

You know, as a pastor who works with both adults and youth, I have a unique perspective. The world that our students live in is not the world that we come from.

Like it or not, the world has changed.

We have to be careful that we don't fall into the same trap that the leaders of Israel did. They were so caught up with their own place of authority and their own perception of what they thought God was like, that they were no longer able to see what God was actually doing right in front of them.

God is at work in our world, all around us.

If we are going to be the community of God, then we must be willing to let go of our sense of power and authority and look around at the larger community and ask, “What is God doing?”

I guarantee that just like radical Jesus causing a rucous in the streets of Jerusalem, whatever God is doing, it's pushing the boundaries.

Here's the thing about Authority. We have to remember, it's not our church, it's not our agenda, it's not our will. It's God's authority, it's God's will, on earth as it is in Heaven.

If we are going to live together as God's community, then we need to learn how to let go of our sense of entitlement and reach out to people and ideas that might be a little outside the box.

As you can imagine, the leaders of Israel weren't too excited about this. So, Jesus goes on in our text, in verse 28, to demonstrate what he's getting after by telling them a parable about two sons.

It is in this parable that we see the second aspect of Humility

It's about ACTION.

The story is pretty simple. The father tells the son to go work in the field and the son says, “no!” In that culture that was a big no-no. Sons did not defy their fathers like that. So, the son was wrong.

But then it says “he changed his mind and went.” The Greek word here for changed his mind is Metamelomai. It's really more than changing your mind. It's deeper than that. It's more like he had a heart change. He was moved and realized that he was wrong. The direction of his heart moved from himself to doing what was right.

On the other hand, we have the second son.

The father tells him to go work in the field and this son says, “yes, sir, right away sir.” But then he doesn't do it.

We call that lip-service.

Jesus asks the leaders of Israel, “which one did the will of the father?”

Here is an interesting observation I've made.

In my experience, some of the most Christ-like people I've ever known have been my atheist friends. They have said, “NO!” to God and to the church, and yet their lifestyles are marked by caring for the poor, truly listening to others, welcoming the stranger, and genuinely loving their neighbor.

And, some of the meanest and most toxic people I've ever known have been people who have publicly professed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and claim to know the grace of God in their lives.

Here's the thing about these two sons. They were both wrong.

What's separates the sons is that the first one was willing to admit that he was wrong and do something about it.

Three of the most difficult words to say, “I was wrong.”

That is humility.

If we are going to live together as the community of God, we need to not just pay lip-service to God, go through the churchy motions, and then go on about our self-centered lives.

We need to be willing to roll up our sleeves and deal with stuff. We need to own our junk, make peace, and get on with figuring out what God is doing around us and get in on the action of being the hands and feet of Jesus to our community.

I know this seems like a pretty heavy-handed sermon. Believe me, I know this is tough stuff. Remember, I'm preaching to myself here.

That's why we desperately need to look at the Philippians text to see the third aspect of Humility.

It's about ATTITUDE

Paul writes a letter to his friends and says in chapter 2, verse 4, “let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” Then he gives us the ultimate example of this in verse 5, “let the same mind be in your that was in Christ Jesus, Who though he was in the form of God, Did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, But emptied him, Taking on the form of a slave.

Jesus emptied himself. He poured himself out for us.

His attitude was not directed to himself. It wasn't ME, MINE. It was you, ours.

Did you catch the news report this week about the Cross Country runner from Andover High School? His name is Josh Ripley. He was running a race. When a high school guy starts out to run a race, there is one thing on his mind…winning. At the half mile mark he turned a corner and saw one of his opponents lying on the ground, bleeding badly from his ankle. In that moment Josh did something amazing. He stopped, picked up his opponent, and carried him back to the base to get medical attention.

Josh emptied himself of all hope of winning. He put the needs of his enemy above his own.

That's what it looks like. That is the attitude of Christ.

We need to bring this whole series to a close. How can we live together as the community of God? With everything we've talked about over the past four weeks, and with this final ingredient of Humility folded into the mix, I think it boils down to this.

In our western, American culture we are trained from childhood that life is all about ME, MINE, and MY WAY. Even our religion is based on MY relationship with God, My eternal destiny, MY beliefs. If I'm good with God, then I can check that off my list and move on with my life.

Here's where the metamelomai happens.

What if we changed the ME, MINE, and MY WAY to WE, OURS, and GOD's Way.

We are the body of Christ.

We need each other.

This is our community both in this congregation and in the great Anoka County.

This is God's Kingdom and we are called to be God's hands and feet in this world.

Living together means sometimes letting go of things. It means admitting when we're wrong and doing something about it. And it means looking out for each other.

That is humility.

Of Humility

by Dom Mark

The sixth degree of humility is, for a monk to be contented with the meanest and worst of everything, and in all that is enjoined him to esteem himself a bad and worthless labourer, saying with the prophet: "I have been brought to nothing, and I knew it not: I am become as a beast before Thee, yet I am always with Thee."

The Beautiful People and the Friends of God

Saint Benedict gives us the key to understanding the sixth degree of humility by quoting Psalm 72:23. He is, in effect, inviting us to open our psalter and ponder the whole psalm.* Psalm 72 expresses the bewilderment and frustration of a good man -- devout and faithful to the Lord -- who looks about him and sees that the wicked -- those who pursue their lust for power, riches, and sensual gratifications -- appear to be prosperous and happy, while he, poor wretch, struggles to get by. He sees the "beautiful people" in the eyes of the world, and compares their lot in life with that of the friends of God.

A Failure and a Fool

A monk must not expect to have the things that people in the world use to display their prosperity: exquisite foods and wines; a beautiful home; fashionable clothes, shoes, jewelry, haircuts, and "beauty aids"; the latest cars and electronic equipment; the trendiest restaurants, bars, and holiday spots. In the eyes of the world the monk is a failure and a fool, "a bad and worthless labourer," as Saint Benedict says. In the eyes of the world a monk has no more than "the meanest and worst of everything." The monk must accept that this is how the world views him, and glory in it for the sake of Christ.

Consider, brethren, the circumstances of your own calling; not many of you are wise, in the world's fashion, not many powerful, not many well born. No, God has chosen what the world holds foolish, so as to abash the wise, God has chosen what the world holds weak, so as to abash the strong. God has chosen what the world holds base and contemptible, nay, has chosen what is nothing, so as to bring to nothing what is now in being; no human creature was to have any ground for boasting, in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

That I May Gain Christ

It sometimes happens that when a man enters a monastery, those nearest and dearest to him feel that he is rejecting the very security, privileges, and things they have worked hard to acquire. Consequently, they feel judged. This can sometimes put a strain on family relationships and friendships. Family and friends must be helped to understand that the monastic vocation, though it be radical in its demands, and in many ways opposed to the very things they cherish, does not entail a rejection of themselves, nor of their affection, nor of the good and wholesome things shared together. It is a response to the love of Christ, in whom all other loves are purified and ennobled. The monk can only say with Saint Paul:

But the things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ. Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ.
(Philippians 3:7-8)

To Be Near God Is My Happiness

Saint Benedict's sixth degree of humility ends with the telling phrase from Psalm 72: "Yet I am always with Thee." For me, nothing can compare with living under the same roof as the Most Blessed Sacrament. The same psalm says, "To be near God is my happiness" or, as Monsignor Knox puts it, "I know no other content but clinging to God." All that Solomon says concerning Wisdom, I can say with regard to the privilege of having been called to a monastic life characterized by ceaseless adoration of Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love: "I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither did I compare unto her any precious stone: for all gold in comparison of her, is as a little sand, and silver in respect to her shall be counted as clay. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for her light cannot be put out" (Wisdom 7:8-10).

Psalm 72, Quam bonus Israel Deus

1 What bounty God shews, what divine bounty, to the upright, to the pure of heart!
2 Yet I was near losing my foothold, felt the ground sink under my steps,
3 such heart-burning had I at seeing the good fortune of sinners that defy his law;
4 for them, never a pang; healthy and sleek their bodies shew.
5 Not for these to share man's common lot of trouble; the plagues which afflict human kind still pass them by.
6 No wonder if pride clings to them like a necklace, if they flaunt, like fine clothes, their wrong-doing.
7 From those pampered hearts what malice proceeds, what vile schemes are hatched!
8 Ever jeering, ever talking maliciously, throned on high they preach injustice;
9 their clamour reaches heaven, and their false tales win currency on earth.
10 Enviously the men of my own race look on, to see them draining life's cup to the full;
11 Can God, they ask, be aware of this? Does the most High know of all that passes?
12 Look at these sinners, how they live at peace, how they rise to greatness!
13 Why then, thought I, it is to no purpose that I have kept my heart true, and washed my hands clean in pureness of living;
14 still, all the while, I am plagued for it, and no morning comes but my scourging is renewed.
15 Was I to share their thoughts? Nay, that were to put the whole company of thy children in the wrong.
16 I set myself to read the riddle, but it proved a hard search,
17 until I betook myself to God's sanctuary, and considered, there, what becomes of such men at last.
18 The truth is, thou art making a slippery path for their feet, ready to plunge them in ruin;
19 in a moment they are fallen, in a storm of terrors vanished and gone.
20 And thou, Lord, dost rise up and brush aside all their imaginings, as a waking man his dream.
21 What if my mind was full of bitterness, what if I was pierced to the heart?
22 I was all dumbness, I was all ignorance,
23 standing there like a brute beast in thy presence. Yet ever thou art at my side,
24 ever holdest me by my right hand. Thine to guide me with thy counsel, thine to welcome me into glory at last.
25 What else does heaven hold for me, but thyself? What charm for me has earth, here at thy side?
26 What though flesh of mine, heart of mine, should waste away? Still God will be my heart's stronghold, eternally my inheritance.
27 Lost those others may be, who desert thy cause, lost are all those who break their troth with thee;
28 I know no other content but clinging to God, putting my trust in the Lord, my Master; within the gates of royal Sion I will be the herald of thy praise.

Translation of Msgr Ronald Knox
Source: Vultus Christi

Genuine Salt of Humility

by Alistair Begg

Scripture: Proverbs 15:33

Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self, God will fill them with His love. If we desire close communion with Christ, we should remember the word of the Lord: "This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:2)

Stoop if you want to climb to heaven. Is it not said of Jesus, "He who descended is the one who also ascended"? (Ephesians 4:10) So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven will be enjoyed by humble souls and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:3) with all its riches and treasures. All of God's resources will be made available to the soul that is humble enough to be able to receive them without growing proud because of it.

God blesses each of us up to the level and extent of what it is safe for Him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in His holy war, you would snatch the crown for yourself, and in the next battle you would fall a victim. He keeps you low for your own safety!

When a man is sincerely humble and never tries to take the credit or the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace and equips us to deal efficiently with our fellows. True humility is a flower that will adorn any garden. This is a sauce that will season every dish of life and improve it in every case. Whether in prayer or praise, whether in work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.

From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg
copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187.


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