Our current sermon series is based in the book of Proverbs and each week we have been assigned just one chapter to read daily. This week was 30 and I will add I did not enjoy it very much at all.
It isn’t so much because it was convicting as it is I have always found this collection of verses somewhat confusing and I never have appreciated the visual image of a snake slithering across a rock.. I also wince when I read the opening passages about how stupid the author feels because I just wonder how he time-traveled and got a hold of one my journal entries.
So having to read through it seven times was a bit of a challenging discipline
But I have read it all seven days and I get the main point now. And suddenly I am convicted.
If you attend in person or on-line, you know Brian’s sermon from chapter 30 had to do with Humility and if you missed it, I recommend it. It can be found on line or the church website under sermons. Here is the link – https://vimeo.com/710827683?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=7432341
It just so happens that I am currently working on reading two books and both of them center on this elusive and most important character trait of a Christ follower. One is actually on marriage, but the other one is entitled simply “Humility” by Andrew Murray.
He points out, as did the material text of the sermon and much of the marriage book, that humility is difficult to grasp because our worst pride is when we think we are humble. We fool ourselves with our piety and our devotion to God and forget that it is only through grace that we grow in humility.
Here are some words from Murray that say it better:
“We may find theologians and ministers, evangelists and workers, missionaries and teachers, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are many and manifest, and who are the channels of blessing to multitudes, but of whom, when testing time comes, or closer fellowship gives fuller knowledge, it is only too painfully manifest that the grace of humility, as an abiding characteristic, is scarce to be seen. All tends to confirm the lesson that humility is one of the chief and the highest graces, one of the most difficult of attainment, one to which our first and chiefest efforts ought to be directed, and one that only comes in power when the fullness of the Spirit makes us partakers of the indwelling Christ and He lives within us.”Humility, Andrew Murray; CLC Publications, 1997, pg 41
This section of the book speaks of how we can be doing all the right things and encouraging, teaching and leading others with power and fruit abundant and yet this great grace gift called “humility” is not there.
When I think of it in my own life I have to hold up these questions he poses:
Do I feel no jealousy or envy?
Can I praise God when others are preferred or blessed in front of me?
Can I bear when others are praised and I am forgotten?
Do I live with on-going forgiveness as my first response to offenses?
Do I have a sweet and gentle spirit no matter how I am treated?
No, no, no.
And our first response will most likely be a defensive….well, gee, I am only human.
Which is exactly the point.
In my self and in my strength, I may be able to exhibit “humility” towards others…typically those I prefer, but not towards all.
Listen to what Andrew Murray describes happening in his time as he worked among missionaries in South Africa :
“Men and women, who back in Europe could each choose their own circle of friends, when brought close together with others of uncongenial minds found it hard to bear, and to love, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”Humility, Andrew Murray; CLC Publications, 1997, pg. 53
He goes on to describe how these people who could exhibit grace abundant in their own chosen circles, yet struggled being fellow helpers and instead were a hindrance and joy-robber amongst other servants of Christ and to be “the servant, the helper and the comforter of others, even the lowest and unworthiest.” also on page 53
How much like the world our internet and social media have brought to our kitchen table. I can attest to the fact that I do well extending grace and thinking better of others than myself when I like them or admire them or don’t have any personal ground to lose when they do better than me.
But what about those who rub me the wrong way? Those who don’t receive or extend back to me my “grace”? What about those who seem to gloat when they are promoted or preferred over me?
So it would seem wise to do as Murray suggests repeatedly throughout and concludes his book with: we must prayerfully seek and ask God to give us this grace. We must understand that when done correctly it will only be noticed by Him and will never make us feel good about ourselves but only cause us to kneel in gratitude for who He is and what His character is like, always over and over again asking …. May Christ be formed in me today <3