THE POWER OF HUMILITY

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THE POWER OF HUMILITY

Today, I’d like to take a concept and turn it on its head; it’s the concept of humility.

In the natural, being humble means having a low estimate of your own importance and thinking less of yourself than you do of others. Biblically, it is also rather similar.

“Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord…” James 4:10 [AMPC]

“Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord…” James 4:10 [AMP]

But what if I told you that there is actually much power to be gained from humility? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Saying, ‘I am weak’ actually makes us strong? How can that be? The very definition of meekness reeks of ‘push over’.

Yet, James does say,

“Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom.” James 3:13 [PHILLIPS]

So humility is born of true wisdom, or as the Amplified puts it,

“Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom.” James 3:13 [AMPC]

Humility is the proper attribute of the truly wise. But why? Why is it that the truly wise are humble? Shouldn’t we be proud of the wisdom, knowledge and experience that we have amassed? Let us find out and see just why humility is so powerful.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war….” James 4:1-2

Where do wars come from? Have you ever thought about it? In truth, the Second World War didn’t really end; it just morphed into many smaller scale confrontations. There was the Korean war; then Vietnam; then Iran and Iraq; then the Gulf War Mark I, then Gulf War Mark II. This is not to mention the other small scale conflicts in the Falklands, Balkans, Chechnya and so on. We have certainly made a habit out of warring. No wonder there is a market for ‘Independent Defense Contractors’.

So why do we ‘war’ so much? Why do we fight?

“You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war….” James 4:2 [AMPC]

Economists will tell you that war erupts when infinite demands compete over finite resources. And in many ways, it is, isn’t it? Wasn’t each and every war that was ever fought, fought over resources?

And when we think about it, we really do have finite resources. There is a finite amount of iron ore, coal and oil; even fresh air and clean water are now resources which are in limited supply. So it makes sense to ‘war’ over these resources, doesn’t it, else we won’t have enough for ourselves? Or does it?

Putting aside what the Bible says for a moment, let us consider just how limited are those ‘limited resource’. Iron is limited, so steel is limited. But we don’t really use steel much anymore, do we? Even in the domains where steel used to dominate, alternative materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber are taking over.

And no one really uses coal in a big way also. Coal fired power stations are becoming obsolete, with richer countries opting for cleaner sources of energy. In fact, at the rate that we are developing alternative forms of energy, it won’t be long before oil is fully replaced as well.

It is little wonder then that economists define the concept of ‘carrying capacity’ with the added caveat of ‘in a given environment’ or ‘at the given time’. For if we were to just define ‘carrying capacity’ as ‘the maximum number of organisms of a particular species that can be supported by an environment’, innovation and technological advancement would make the number infinite, wouldn’t it?

So then, even merely looking at it from the natural, we realize that we have a wrong concept of the world around us. We war because we mistakenly think that because resources are finite, the ability of another to satisfy their desires deprives us of our ability to satisfy our desires; and we get needlessly jealous. Silly, isn’t it?

Now when we bring God back into the picture, we realize just how ‘more wrong’ we are; for

“…Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3

We don’t have because we don’t ask, else we ask wrongly, for the wrong purpose, to achieve the wrong outcome. Or putting it more comprehensively,

“…You do not have, because you do not ask. [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives….” James 4:2-3 [AMPC]

Why do you want that Ferrari? Why are you asking God for that sea-front bungalow? ‘Is it wrong to ask’; ‘Are they bad things’; you may ask. Well, no. But your motives for wanting them may be. And when you don’t get them, but see someone else with them, you get jealous; because Ferrari only makes a limited number of cars a year and you don’t have your name on one of them.

But what if you left it to God? What if you let Him decide what’s good for you and what’s not? What if you decided that you were willing to

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…” James 4:10

What will happen then? Let’s find out, shall we?

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

Or putting it more completely,

“Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant].” James 4:10 [AMPC]
But is this God’s own ego trip? Does He just want to feel good, feel like He’s bigger than us and knows better than us? Does He just want to feel important?

Well beloved, He’s God. He is bigger than us, He does know better than us. And He’s got a good enough sense of self-esteem to not need to lord it over us just to make Himself feel better. For He did say,

“I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.
For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” Psalm 50:9-12

Caught that last bit? For the world is His, and all its fullness. It really is, isn’t it?

But just like how you would rather your 10 year old leave the major decisions to you because you really do know better; so too does our Father rather we leave the big decisions to Him, because hey, He really does know better.

And Jesus has shown us that our Father doesn’t want us to live in abject poverty either, for He did say, amongst other things,

“I come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

And why would He tell you to

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

If not because “…everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:8

We have already seen, from our human experience, that even in the hands of man, the notion of ‘finite resources’ can be overcome. Now, what more in God’s hands? Do you honestly think that there is something that you want that He can’t give?

You know, of the things of the world, Paul says,

“As a Christian I may do anything, but that does not mean that everything is good for me….” 1 Corinthians 6:12 [PHILLIPS]

For “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 [MSG]

Instead, let us, in our lives and for every decision, take the humble position of saying ‘I know You know better than me, so I’m going to leave it to You’; for our Father really does know better. Then wait for Him to bring His plans into fruition. For remember that,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

So let’s wait for Him to lift us up; for when He does, He will lift us higher than we could ever lift ourselves. Now that’s a powerful and wise decision.

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