Humility, My Life as a River Rock (Learning to Release My Need for Approval)
This year I will have been a child of God for 35 years. My journey has taken many typical paths through exhilarate mountain tops and deep dark nights of the soul. Overall, I see how God has used it all, even my mistakes, to make me more and more desperate for Him.
Over the years, I keep coming back to how Jesus summarized the law and prophets with his greatest commandment.
New International Version (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
If these verses do summarize and put into a nut shell how to live the Christian life, then I want to fully understand what my Lord means. How do I love Him with my all?.
For Christ to be all in my life, there's a whole lot of 'Self' that needs to be dealt with.
Andrew Murray calls this process - Humility
In his book by the same name, he defines humility as 'the place of entire dependency on God.'
He goes on to call humility the first and highest virture of man and the root of every virtue. This is extremely significant because it specifies that Christ-likeness does not from anything in us, but only through the flowing of Christ's spirit.
Murray goes on to call the opposite of humility, pride, the root of every sin and evil.
Pride, man's life apart from God.
So, if pride, characterized by self effort, self gratification, self exaltation, self dependence, self promotion and so on, is opposite of the life of humility Christ modeled for us, as written about in Philippians chapter 2, how is self turned away?
How does Galatians 2:20 and 21, live out? "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
In response to that question, I find myself in my mind's eye standing before the flowing River of God:
Psalm 46:4 "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells."
In my heart this river is rich with God's presence, peace, love and joy, live the waters mentioned in Psalm 1:
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
For a few years now I've pictured myself from time to time standing by a these cool waters of His Spirit, this river of His refreshing love and joy. When I'm standing here, the call to my heart is RELEASE. Release the need for other's approval, the need to succeed, the need to never fail, the need to take on the burdens of those I love, the need to fix, make right, the need to be comfort and smooth circumstances. In a word, the need to release more and more self.
Today, the clarity of this heart vision is unmistakable. In fact, rather than standing beside this rich river of His Presence, I see myself in the midst of His River. Like a river rock, I'm continually being gushed with God's love to usher it downstream to others.
God is asking me to release self, to learn humility as he modeled it for me, love Him with my All and learn the crucified life which allows Him to live and love through me.
Though this journey of the death of self is life long, I feel compelled to start with my need for the approval of others.
Releasing the Need for Approval
What is it about me that is so in need of the approval of others? It comes out in my need to succeed, my need to have all think well of me and the ugliness of competition.
I'm drawn to Paul's words to the Philippians:
New International Version (NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
I need to sink deep into my value as a son of the very Creator of the Universe who loves me enough to allow His Son to suffer and die on a criminal cross on my behalf.
Compared to this, what kind of value do I really need? My desire for the approval of others is built on the lie that my worth is tied to how society and people view me.
Lord, please allow the soothing freshness of your streams of love and peace to flow around me and over me. If I'm a River Rock, please allow me to be content being one that is not even visible above the surface. I love you my Father, my all in all.