I will continue today in what I have written about Andrew Murray’s Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN 2001).
How can we tell if we have a pride problem? Look at your fruit. Do you have love for others? What about joy? Is there any peace or patience? Are you marked by kindness, gentleness, or self-control? If you love others when they are kind to you or do what you like, there might be a pride issue. Pride steals your joy, wrecks your peace, drains your patience, keeps you from being kind or gentle (or at least thinking those things), and pride makes excuses for your lack of self-control. Our sin nature- pride- will give us other things to blame for a fruitless walk with Christ. That is why we need to make the humility of Christ our one desire. We need to be abiding in Christ and then we will bear much fruit. (26)
How do I know all these things? Because I have been a compliant accomplice to pride for far too many years. I didn’t have a heart to love others. I was anxious about things that were out of my control. I was angry and bitter instead of kind and gentle. Not that anyone could really tell though. I was good at hiding these things. Anyone with an over-inflated pride will be a pro at making everyone think you are the perfect Christian. I was measuring everyone to my standard of right and wrong and never admitting my own sinfulness. If you are as good as I was, then I really didn’t have any sin to confess. I know that sounds ridiculous, but let’s be honest here. Let’s bring out the lies that Satan tells, to see if they sound familiar to you too. Satan is not creative; he just knows what works. If we can identify the lies, it will help us, “For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11b).
We can say all we want about how we seek humility, but the truth will be evident by the state of our heart. Jesus is the example of humility, because of his obedient life. Most notably in the book of John we see Jesus demonstrating humility. “My teaching is not my own” (John 7:16). “I am not here on my own” (John 7:28). “I can do nothing on my own” (John 8:28). “I am not seeking glory for myself” (John 8:50). “The words I say to you are not just my own” (John 14:10). Jesus humbled himself and left the presence of the Father to come to earth. Jesus’s agenda didn’t follow a plan of his own, but followed the will of the Father. (32)
So many times, I look at what Jesus did and think about all he gave up to come to earth and die for my prideful self. He became nothing. Isn’t that confounding? Yet, Hebrews 12:2 explains why we look to Jesus when we think about this, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” There was joy set before Him. Jesus knew there was joy in following God’s plan, even if it meant going to the cross. The joy was being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He didn’t lose anything by being obedient and humble. We get so shortsighted in life. We only see the here and now without fully understanding that a humble life will be exalted. If not here, it will be exalted in heaven. (32)
It seems so easy to say that I will surrender my life to whatever God wants, regardless of the consequences or what it could cost me. Yet, how hard is it to do this in our actual lives? Am I really willing? When I originally wrote these words four or five years ago, it was really just a question to myself. Am I really willing? What would it look like if I surrendered my life fully to what God wanted for my life? In the last six months, that question has had more meaning to me as I have walked through it. I never imagined when I wrote that question to myself that I would be face to face with a God who was confronting me with it. The confrontation was actually an invitation to surrender my plans for a career. An invitation to walk in faith into a new life of ministry, even when I didn’t know what that would look like. An invitation to walk away from a career where I was half way to retirement and to walk away from what had become my identity. An invitation to partner in something new and to walk with Christ in a more personal way. An invitation to serve, with a heart that is surrendered to Christ.
Yet, walking away from my career, my identity, and my retirement plan is what I did. It is what I am doing right now. Walking in faith and serving with the new time God has granted me. I am taking every day as an opportunity to serve, to make quality connections with people, and to invest in my family like never before. People keep asking me if I miss teaching. Part of me misses getting to invest into my students, but there is also something very freeing to not having anything to prove to anyone. I know that when I spend time with people, I am fully there with them and not thinking about the other things I could be doing. I have a peace that I have never experienced before and I have watched God move in ways that are still astounding me.
You see, I have lived too long with superficial service and weak humility, because I had too much of my own self in the way. Not anymore. When your vessel of a life is filled up with too many of your own accomplishments and ideas, there is not much room for God. When you empty yourself and surrender to God, we have to push aside fears. It makes me cling to scriptures that tell of the goodness of God. One that I hold on to, is the truth that “The Lord will guide you always…” (Isaiah 58:11a). Finally emptied of yourself and your fear, will God fill you and use you. Living with this level of humility brings a terrifying vulnerability. “You want me to do what Lord?” Praise be to God that when we have a truly humble heart, God’s indwelling power shows up. (33)
I would love to say that a life of surrender and humility magically changes you. Things fall into line and the big plan you had for serving God happens overnight. Well, it does change you, but not maybe how you had imagined it. Part of humility is also being patient and waiting for God. Waiting is so hard. When you are waiting, it sometimes feels like you missed out on something. Your self wants to come in and make demands of God in the waiting. Pride doesn’t want you to give up enough to become a vessel overflowing with God’s wisdom, power, and goodness. Just as a pond cannot be dug and be full after one good rain, becoming filled with God’s indwelling power takes time. Right now, I am in the waiting. My prayer is for God to make me like Christ. Let me live in humility, not as a temporary thing, but a life change. May I be aware of where You want me to serve, but never running ahead of where you are working right now. What I know to be true is that a life without humility is fruitless. It seeks too much self and causes anxiety. Mainly because I take too much responsibility for things that are completely in God’s control. If I run ahead, I will miss out on what God wants to do through me. (34)