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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
False religion is all about what people do, and therefore, people stand up to do it and then take a bow to their own applause for doing so. True Christianity is about what our Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father have done – what they have done in the past – what they are doing now - and what they will be doing in the future. We don’t stand up and take a bow for this. We stand up in humble admiration from our seat in Christ at God’s right hand and applaud!
Humility is a very significant factor for enjoying the things of God. 1 Peter 5:5 put it this way, “for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.”
Pride and humility are opposed to each other. Jesus Christ said in Luke 14:11 and 18:14, “Every one who exalts himself shall be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
According to Expository Dictionary of Bible Words published by Hendrickson Publishers, the Greek word used in the New Testament for humble (tapeinos) and its derivatives were used of contempt in the Greek culture of the first century. It states, “The Greeks saw people as the measure of all things. Thus, to be low on the social scale, to know poverty, or to be socially powerless was seen as shameful. Only seldom in classical Greek do these words have a positive tone, commending an unassuming or obedient attitude.” Scripture, however, sees the universe as measurable only compared to God; it is befitting that people be clothed in humility before their Creator; from this perspective of truth, humility is practically always used in a positive sense in the Bible.
In Matthew 18:1-4 the disciples asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus "called a little child and had him stand among them." Jesus explained to his disciples, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Just prior to this event Jesus had presented himself to the Pharisees and Sadducees the promised Messiah; however, unlike the child, they refused to "come" to him; they actually tried to boss him around, demanding a sign out of heaven. But the child, when he was called, came immediately, responding to Jesus' word. Humility in our relationship with God is seen when we refuse to stand in judgment of His Word, but instead respond as directed, with childlike simplicity, recognizing His Word as the ultimate authority in our life.
And what does God ask of us? Not that we should be stronger than we are, but that we should rely on His strength. For in Christ, God has provided all things for us in great abundance. Nothing is wanting. If we are in a low position and short of sight, He has sent forth all that which is true in Christ to lift us up with clear vision. If we are weak of will, He has sent a powerfully transforming message of grace to strengthen and lift up our will.
God loves to see humility in a man or woman. He is not looking for self-love, not self-elation, not self-seeking, not hollow and delusive pride. God is interested in us believing who we are and what we have in Christ. He’s never interested in anyone's perception of truth being distorted by vanity and pride. God forbid we boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The humble mind is subject to God, accounting no better place to be than seated at the right hand of God in Christ; a humble mind believes what God has made His children to be in Christ; a humble mind believes that the only achievements and acquisitions of worth come from God’s love and grace in Christ rather than personal power or self accomplishment; and a humble mind can be so conditioned by the grace of God which is in Christ that the pressures and pleasures of this temporal world become entirely powerless against it.
What are all the petty interests of this mortal life compared to the riches of God which flow freely in Christ? Why give worldly pursuits preeminence over Godly pursuits? That road just leads to thoughts and conduct which are in direct opposition to the ways and blessing of God, and to the confusion of substituting Christ, the wisdom of God, with worldly wisdom. Modern world thinking has nothing of lasting value to offer. It has dismissed practically every sense of truth, and has given its devotion to the bare powers and phenomena of nature; to the worship of poor fallen humanity, to the deification of accumulated wealth, to the veneration of mechanical inventions, to the cultivation of material luxury, and to the super-exaltation of pride, independence and self-reliance; none of which will pass through the fire at the return of Christ. Even for a Christian, whatever someone seeks, honors, or exalts more than God is the god of their idolatry. Let's not be deceived; material, mental and social idolatry does not require temples, altars and statues; whatever is preferred in mind and heart to God, whatever is chosen as the chief end of man's pursuit in place of God, constitutes the idolatry of these times.
So we keep our heads above the flood of worldly things by keeping our eyes fastened on the glorious good news from God about His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. And nothing else rejoices the humble heart of a child of God as does dwelling upon the immensity of God’s grace. Oh, if ever we would have our souls kept humble, we need but only dwell upon the love of God freely bestowed upon us in Christ! Dwell upon... the firstness of His Love, the freeness of His Love, the greatness of His Love, the fullness of His Love, the unchangeableness of His Love, the everlastingness of His Love, and the ardency of His Love.
In 1 Peter 5:6 we find this instruction, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"
How do we do this? We dwell upon what our Lord Jesus Christ has undertaken for us, upon the choice and worthy gifts which God has bestowed upon us in Christ, upon that eternal glory and happiness that is prepared for us--and by doing so, just try to boast in something other than the cross if you can.
Verse 7 compliments this train of thought even further with, "Casting all your cares on Him for He careth for you."
The more we see how much God loves us the less we trust in anything else.
Why not do it God's way? What value are the self-boasting rights of men anyway? Sure, the world admires its own heroes, who for honor, interest or the excitement which it gives them, undergo great labors, do works that look large in the eyes of men, encounter great perils with risk of life, or endure extreme sufferings for some public cause. These men are not usually known to have any true interest in God, yet the world exalts them, rewards them with honors and benefits, and erects monuments to their memory (the hope of these temporal rewards often being the leading motive next to the pride that moves within them). But the heroes and heroines of God, although the world takes little note of them, are far more wonderful. Armed with truth, their hearts are set on the truth of God which is in Christ, whose accomplished work is the source of all great things produced, and while wholly indifferent to the world's opinion, these grace of Christ minded saints are a spectacle and glory to God, the Lord Jesus Christ and their angels. These true heroes have no dependency but on God through Christ, they boast in nothing save the cross, and no will greater than their Heavenly Father's. Let but the gospel of Christ have entrance into the heart of a believer, and however difficult the task may be to human nature, no fear, no obstacle will daunt the fierce drive to accomplish the task before them.
We are members of the body of Christ; members one of another in Christ! In ‘our-world', the Kingdom of God, we submit to what God says is true about one another, not what we see in the flesh. In Philippians 2:3-4 we read, "In humility esteeming one another surpassing themselves; each not looking at the things of themselves only, but each also the things of others...” We do this by reverencing what God has made us to be in Christ, not by reverencing one another's possessions, positions, jobs, education, intelligence, physical appearances, personalities or any such thing. We simply refuse to submit to what a person appears to be according to the flesh! We submit to the truth of God regarding their true identity in Christ and we honor our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ by doing so! This is the same humility that prevents knowing each other and judging each other according to the flesh. In the Broadway theatrical production ‘Cats’ people dress up like cats and they act like cats, but that does not make them cats. In much the same way, a saint is a saint, even if dressed and acting like something else... just give them some love and see them purrr.
True humility represents a proper estimation of one's self in relation to God and to others - in light of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.