Humilty: Think about it

I want to finish my posts on humility this week with a simple look at what the scriptures have to say on the subject.

Articles so far have included:

  1. Humility: What is it?
  2. Humility: The war against pride
  3. Humility: That’s not it

I’m simply going to lay out selected bible passages on humility. I’m not adding any commentary to these verses, they are for your own deep thinking, introspection and meditation on being a humble person before God and humanity. This is the call of all God’s Place Makers.

Old Testament

 Psalm 25:9

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 22:4

The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.

Isaiah 57:15

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

New Testament

Matthew 11:28–30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 18:4

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 18:13–14

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Philippians 2:3–11

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ephesians 4:1–2

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Colossians 3:12–13

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

1 Peter 5:5–6

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

You can, of course, take the study further using a physical or digital concordance and look under words like humble, humility, lowly etc.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Humility: That’s not it

In our series on humility, we began by defining what we mean by humility and what humility wars against. Today we will take a brief look at the things that pass for humility but are not.

Here are some of the things mistaken for humility:

  • Speaking softly is not humility, you can speak with volume, firmness and conviction and still be humble.
  • Avoiding conflict is not humility, there are many things in life that we need to confront, we should do so in the right spirit rather than avoiding confrontation altogether.
  • Praising others or speaking negatively about yourself is not humility, despite common misconceptions humility is not a negative view of yourself, just an honest one in the light of God and his word.
  • Displaying a lack of confidence is not humility, we should put our trust in the Lord and so be confident in his ability for us and in us.
  • Avoiding eye contact is not humility, we should be able to look someone in the eye and remain humble.
  • Having a sad demeanour is not humility, nor is having downcast body language.

To be truly humble as believers we need to submit ourselves to God’s word revealed in the bible and allow our lives to be governed by God the Holy Spirit.

It is only when we cultivate and keep on working at walking in the spirit of humility that we will be in a position to be good place makers, bringing God’s presence wherever we go and expanding his kingdom through the proclamation of the truth and acts of service powered by God’s love.

So don’t fake humility, actually be humble from the very core of your being by applying God’s word to your life. A good place to start will be to meditate on the beatitudes and the famous love chapter.

Mathew 5 – 7 and 1 Corinthians 13

Lets not fake it, let’s really be it by God’s grace.

Humility: The War Against Pride

Pride is something we all have to deal with… if you think you don’t have any issues with pride you are probably not thinking clearly.

Pride can manifest in different ways, here are just a few:

  • Seeing yourself as being someone who is better than most people.
  • Thinking of yourself as someone who has arrived.
  • Having an unteachable attitude.
  • Thinking you do not need to listen to your Pastors and leaders.
  • Assuming you have nothing you need to work on.
  • Thinking you have no blind spots.
  • Standing on the good you did in the past to condemn others or to make an excuse for your current stance.
  • Never seeing your wrongs in a disagreement or argument.
  • Being a critical person who always sees plenty of faults in everyone else and few or no faults in yourself.
  • Harbouring offence, especially when based on assumptions.

The call to humility is a call to arms, to war against pride in our hearts, thoughts and behaviour.

Let’s remember the words of Jesus:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3, ESV)

Are you willing to deal with the pride in your life today? Resolve to let humility win over pride this year.

Humility: What is it?

I had a good conversation with a dear friend and mentor yesterday by voice and text about the need for humility in the life and thinking of believers.

It would almost seem an obvious requirement for a disciple of Jesus Christ but it remains for many an elusive quality that we are often blind to our deficiencies in due to the cunning guises with which pride deceives us regarding our need. With this in mind, I’m going to blog about humility for a while to help us be the humble people God calls us to be.

What we mean by humility

Humility can refer to ones social or economic state but that is not the way we are using the term here. For us, we are talking about a Christian virtue which shines through all of life in our thoughts, speech and works all issuing from an awareness and attitude rooted in gratitude toward God and an honest, biblical view of ourselves and the world around us.

Jesus was humble

One of the most relevant scriptures to think on when considering what it means to be humble as a Christian is the passage in Philipians about the humility of Jesus

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3–8, ESV)

What the dictionary says

There are a lot of dictionaries to choose from. I’ve chosen an easy to use Theological Dictionary. I’ve taken two qoutes from the Tyndale Bible Dictionary which I think are good fuel for us when meditating on what humility is and what it means to be humble.

Humility is a grateful and spontaneous awareness that life is a gift, and it is manifested as an ungrudging and unhypocritical acknowledgement of absolute dependence upon God.

So the first thing we learn is that humility has something to do with the way we see God, ourselves and others. One of the issues we have as humans is that in our minds we often switch our role with God’s role.

The article ends as follows:

Turning their backs on status, security, and success, Christians seek an opportunity to gain themselves in serving others.

This final point highlights the fact that true humility will manifest itself in ungrudging, joyful service to others as we seek to follow Jesus.

The Humble Life

It seems clear from our very brief exploration, that humility is a principle that will affect our entire lives and is the vehicle or channel used to live a life governed by the love of God, which itself calls us to serve one another and even care for our enemies. It leaves no room for pride, conceit or our natural negative perspectives, which seek to put us above everyone else and ignore our dependence on God and others.

Some questions for you to think about and possibly comment on below if you want to share your thoughts:

  1. What does humility look like for you as a beliver?
  2. How is your attempt to walk in humility challenged and how do you seek to overcome those challenges?

Let’s resolve to walk in humility for 2018.

Reading the Bible in 2018

To be a good Placemaker it all starts with the truth of God’s Word, The Bible. Our church has followed a bible reading plan which takes us through the entire Bible every year for the past 7 years and will be doing the same again this year.

Some think of reading through the entire Bible in a year as too large a task or something reserved for Priests and Pastors. This is not a healthy way to think and goes against the grain of the Reformation which sought to put the Bible into the hands of every believer in the language they could understand.

The following are some motivations for reading the entire Bible with us this year.

1 The Bible is the Word of God

The Bible is God’s Word in written form. As Disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to live according to and guided by the word of God as revealed in the Bible. Other books can certainly be useful and there is nothing wrong with daily devotionals or faithful bible commentaries but there is no substitute for hearing or reading the word of God directly from the Bible yourself.

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:16–17…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Why read the Old Testament

The Old Testament is often neglected in Bible reading in favour of the New Testament but this is a mistake.

  • The New Testament finds its roots in the Old.
  • The Old Testament is as much the word of God as the New Testament is.
  • The Old Testament is the Bible Jesus read.

As Augustine famously said…

“In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New Testament the Old is revealed.”

Peter remind us 2 Peter 1:20–21…

“knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

3 Why Read the New Testament

There are lots of good reasons to read the New Testament:

  • We hear the Gospel in the New Testament.
  • We read about our Lord, Jesus in the New Testament.
  • We find out about the early Church and believers.
  • We find teaching that guides us with what it means to be new covenant people of God and so much more.

Luke mentions this in Luke 1:1–4 when explaining why he compiled his gospel concerning Jesus Christ…

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

4 Bible reading is part of being a healthy disciple

The Bible is described as food for the Soul. As much as our physical body needs a daily intake of food we need a daily serving of God’s word to nourish our minds and our very being with God’s life-sustaining truth.

As Jesus said to the enemy when he was tempted in Matthew 4:4

But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

5 It is encouraging to read together

All God’s enemies including your own flesh will be against you reading through the entire Bible each year, there is just so much truth there that the enemy is afraid of you being both free and strong. Knowing others are reading and listening in community with you will encourage you when you feel weak, weary and distracted. Let’s read the bible together.

We are encouraged in Psalm 18:30…

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

In conclusion

I hope the above points which are by no means exhaustive, will encourage you to persevere in the hearing, reading, studying and applying the Bible to your life every day this year on our (or another) bible reading plan.

I hope to post a series of short articles on the Humble Majesty website blog about each of our daily readings this year, to encourage you to find application for your own life. You can also pick up a copy of Daily Truth from Amazon or Logos which includes study and application notes for each day of the reading plan.

New year, new goals… same God

This has been a very eventful year for me and the family. We just hosted Christmas at our place and have had a great time over the festive period with family and friends. I’m now off work for the week and taking some time to reflect on the year that has been and the year to come.

God has been really good to me, my family and our church throughout the year, despite losing loved ones and facing myriad difficulties God has proven himself faithful and true… it has really been a Romans 8:28 year.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

As we look forward to 2018, I’m convinced that God will continue to guide and bless us as we affirm our allegiance to him and put our trust in him, working as his place makers in the earth, spreading his kingdom and message wherever we go and in whatever we do.

I would challenge you to prayerfully set goals for the new year, don’t just drift into the new year and don’t get caught up in resolutions… instead set some actual goals that you will work toward.

For me, the last half of 2017 became less productive in terms of the books, courses, blog articles and videos I should be working on. I aim to rectify this with a manageable productivity plan for 2018 which I pray will bring glory to God and joy to his people.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a productive, God-glorifying New Year.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sojourner Living Part 2

It’s been a real season of change for our family. I recently got head hunted for a role which I started a few weeks ago. I was at my last company for nearly six years so it has taken some getting used to. It has been a blessing to me and my family because the pay and hours are all better… it also serves as a reminder to me that we are all on a journey in this life… which got me thinking about sojourner living again.

The thought that comes to mind is that we need to keep moving forward on life’s journey. However, while we make camp in the various stages and seasons of life we should be a part of the story of the spaces where we settle. We need to make a difference where ever God leads us in life and be the place makers he has called us to be.

In my book Sacred Places, after a short word study on “strangers” and “exiles” from Hebrews 11:13-16, I make the following statement:

“With the help of our word definitions and with the wider context in which we find these words in the passage and the Bible as a whole narrative, we can describe ourselves in context to place as the following:

We are a particular and peculiar people, the called out ones who are by the King’s choice and adoption, sons of a better place, living in this place as ambassadors and heirs of the place our King has prepared for us and by his decree sent us out from as his messengers in this place, which itself will one day be the better place we long for.”

Ask yourself the question, are you pursuing sojourner living? To help us all think about this biblically I’ll summarise what it means to be a place maker in the next blog post.

I explore all of this in my book “Sacred Places: The Biblical Theology of Place, Exploring Its Central Importance in God’s Creation and Mission” Which you can pick up today.