Monday, August 21, 2017

Humility in Action

 

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A few days ago, I was totally immersed in a book titled “Humility” by Andrew Murray. He asserts that humility is not just one of the virtues of the Christian life, but the vehicle by which all virtues come.  I used to think of humility and low self-esteem as different sides of the same coin. I was constantly putting myself down, thinking I was being “modest” but I was destroying any self-esteem that I had. If you degrade yourself enough over time and don’t realistically access your worth, you will begin to believe whatever it is that you’re telling yourself. Your words will become self-fulfilling prophecies in your life that will take time and the Word of God to overcome. Humility doesn’t require us to put ourselves down, but to look at ourselves and others through the eyes of Jesus. People, made in the image of God, are valuable and unconditionally loved, despite how he or she looks or what they’ve done. That is why the Lord died for us even though we were His enemies. (Romans 5:8). The precious blood of the Lamb can redeem anyone.

Paul said we should esteem others better than we esteem ourselves (Philippians 2:3). But what does that really mean? Firstly, let’s begin with a biblical definition of what humility is; The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes humility this way, “The personal quality of being free from arrogance and pride and having an accurate estimate of one’s worth (792). The account of Lot and Abraham shines a light on how we should conduct ourselves for the sake of others. Abraham and Lot left Haran upon God’s prompting. They acquired many cattle and, livestock, and other possessions. The place they had settled could not accommodate both of their families and animals, and eventually there was a dispute among their herdsmen. It would seem Lot and Abraham would be at odds, but it didn’t get that far. When the conflict arose, Abraham gave his nephew first choice of the land telling him “Please, let’s not have quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen or my herdsmen, since we are relatives. Isn’t the whole land before you? Separate from me: if you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:6-9) HCSB.

Unlike Lot, Abraham didn’t look at the land to access its qualities, but just referred to it as the right and left. Lot gazed upon the land and found satisfaction in what he saw; on this he made his decision.  Now, we can contrast Lot’s scrutiny of the land with God telling Abraham, “Look from the place that you are. Look north and south, east and west, for I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see (Genesis 13:14-15). Abraham could have said to himself and to Lot, that he was the one God had called and that he should get the best of the land. He didn’t even have to give Lot a choice, but he did saying “Isn’t the whole land before you?”

Ironically, Lot was given first choice but his choice proved to be tragic. For the very city that he chose, would be the city that God would come down to personally destroy for vile wickedness (Genesis 19:24). If Abraham would have thought of himself first, it could have been his wife who turned to a pillar of salt, but it was Lot’s wife instead (Genesis 19:26). (It is highly unlikely that Sarah would have suffered such a fate since she was crucial to the promises that God gave Abraham, but you get my point). Abraham was blessed by thinking of Lot’s needs before his own. He began humbling himself way before the skirmish with Lot’s herdsmen. When God first called Abraham, he hearkened unto the Lord’s voice and was tremendously blessed for his faith which manifested itself in obedience and was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

The fear of the LORD is what wisdom teaches, and humility comes before honor (Proverbs 15:33).

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