sermon: Living By Faith: Humility
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 10-Sep-11; Sermon #1065; 66 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, affirming that God's Word is a discerner of the innermost thoughts of the heart, assures us that God, in His supreme sovereignty, has an awareness of each and every one of us. In our natural, carnal state, we are full of pride, wearing it almost as an ornament around our neck. Sadly, humility does not come naturally; it must be put on as a garment. Sometimes we grab a counterfeit garment, displaying cringing obsequiousness rather than true humility. There is a huge chasm between pride and humility—the latter a created attribute of character. To humble ourselves is not to put ourselves down like the excessively obedient, groveling Wormtongue in the movie Lord of the Rings. Instead, we need to place our total dependence on Almighty God, deferring to His will, as is demonstrated in the behavior of the repentant tax collector, the prodigal son, Solomon's humble request for wisdom and understanding, and Isaiah's declaration of his unworthiness. Paradoxically, God stoops to us when we humble ourselves. Humility produces honor from God; if we humble ourselves, He will hear us. Because we are spiritually broke, we need Him.
Borrower is servant of the lender Christ's greatness Christ is greater than Moses Deuteronomy 8:1-3 I Kings 3:6-9 God gives grace to the humble God gives grace to humble Groveling Hebrews 4:11-13 Humility Isaiah 6:1-5; 57:15 James 4:6-10 Living by faith Matthew 5:3; 20:25-28 Obsequiousness Philippians 3:3-9 Pride as an ornament around the wicked's neck Proverbs 22:7 Psalm 113:4-7; 138:6 Word as a discerner of thoughts of heart
Hebrews 4:11-13 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing even in the soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. There is no creature hidden from His [Christ’s] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
In this series, which is covering elements necessary to provide a foundation for consistently living by faith, we have seen that first and foremost there must exist a solid perception in one’s mind that, not only does God exist, but He is absolutely supreme, ruling over His creation. He is not only supreme in power, authority, and intelligence, but also in the attributes of His character. He is supreme in love, wisdom, mercy, kindness, patience, and goodness. He is supreme in His purpose and also in the plan by which He is working this purpose out. He is supreme, even to the point that His awareness of each and every one of us, as individuals, is supreme.
Hebrews focuses on Christ’s greatness. It magnifies Him in every office that He holds. He is greater than Moses, greater than Joshua, and greater than Aaron. This is partly done to enable us to draw comparisons between His greatness and our deficiency and needs. It is from our evaluations that we find our proper place in our relationship with Him. We must answer to Him for our conduct. In our attempts to meet this responsibility, we found in the previous sermon, we are resistant to Him by nature.
Our resistance to Him is generated by pride, and what the Bible says about pride is almost totally bad. Psalm 73:1-9 associates pride and evil so closely that they go together like hand-in-glove. In fact, the illustration used for pride is like an ornament around the wicked one’s neck, like something worn by us to attract attention, like what jewelry usually does. It attracts comments from people. We think it sets us off and adds to our attractiveness. And thus, it is the same with pride, as well. So much is said about the connection between pride and evil, that overcoming it seems an impossible task. Pride’s influence in us is because of our contact, whether directly or indirectly, with evil spirits inhabiting this world and the systems that they have created.
At the conclusion of the previous sermon, we began to see that pride is neutralized by humility. But unlike pride, humility does not come naturally. It must, in Bible terminology, be 'put on.' It must be added to our character by means of God’s Spirit and consistent conscious decisions to submit to God because we love Him, because we are sincerely seeking to be like Him, and because we desire greatly to glorify Him. In this manner, by God’s power and our cooperation, humility is created and added as a part of our character, thus enabling us to grow stronger toward overcoming pride and its evil influences which destroy relationships.
Today we are going to look into the humility aspect of this chain of elements that I believe are necessary to supply support for us to live by faith. And when we conclude this teaching on humility, we will begin to look into another element needed to more fully provide understanding and motivation to live by faith.
There is a major difference between pride and humility. Pride is within us almost from birth because of our exposure to Satan and the world. Humility is most definitely not that way. Humility is a created attribute of character. A reasonably good, carnal humility can be created within a child living under the supervision of loving parents making a good effort to train their child in good character qualities. In like manner, spiritual humility is most definitely a developed characteristic because of our contact with the Father in heaven and our willing cooperation. The elements needed to create humility are: our contact with God and having His Spirit, along with us submitting.
James 4:6-10 But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
This is an exceedingly clear command and I emphasize “a command.” It is not a sharp one in the normal sense; nonetheless, it is a command. Once one understands some of the instruction regarding spiritual humility given in the Bible, that command becomes important.
We are commanded to humble ourselves. Humility must be commanded because it is not natural to human nature and because of the strong influence of the pride dwelling within. Choosing to humble ourselves is commanded; just as surely as resisting the Devil is commanded, cleansing our hands is commanded, and purifying our hearts is commanded. What this means is that being humble, which results in submission to God, is a choice, and it must be exercised. Humility is important enough that God repeats this command almost word for word three times. It appears in Proverbs 3, I Peter 5, and again in James 4. Humility is dealt with somewhat differently in each testament; however, there is a tight similarity between the two treatments.
In the Old Testament, it is dealt with less as a good quality of an honorable person’s character, and more as a condition or circumstance one finds himself in because of poverty, affliction, or persecution. In this approach, we might say such a person is in humble circumstances. In other words, the humble person has been brought low in a social sense. This perspective provides an illustration that visibly portrays the more important spiritual attitude. People in a humble circumstance project degrees of attitude and conduct that may even approach obsequiousness.
Have you ever seen the Lord of the Rings? Many have. You might recall the scene where the conniving character Wormtongue was confronted and embarrassingly corrected by Gandalf. The reaction that Wormtongue portrayed, really well, was obsequiousness. To be obsequious is to be perceived as excessively obedient, servile, even groveling, which is what Wormtongue did.
Please turn to Proverbs 22. You know this proverb but we are going to use it to begin an illustration.
Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
In this verse, the poor means a depressed circumstance. The borrower has put, or has been put into, a position of dependence upon the whims and the good graces of the lender. The liberties that he formally had are lost because he is now a servant. He has thus lost some of his independence and his feeling to be free to act as he pleases. He now feels obligated to and constrained to a degree that he did not have before.
Now, as one's outlook of life narrows, and may diminish almost entirely, the borrower makes sure that he treats the lender with deference. That is what Wormtongue did. He most certainly does not want to ruffle the feathers of the lender because he wants to be able to retain what he still has left of his former dignity. The borrower, almost automatically becomes beggarly; perhaps even fawning in mannerism as his circumstance diminishes. In most cases, there is a loss of enthusiasm and confidence towards life. Being humbled changes the way a person approaches life.
Thus, the manner in which the Old Testament illustrates humility provides a mental picture of what the term means when applied to the Christian’s approach to life. This is good, but do not get me wrong. The Old Testament in no way looks upon humility as bad character. It just does not emphasize or portray it in the same way that the New Testament does.
What about the way the New Testament looks at it? This stuff is pretty rich. The commentator William Barclay says, “The classical Greek language didn’t even have a word for humility that included no sense of shame.” Hang onto that. They had a word for humility, but the Greek always thought in a way, 'that is shameful.'
The root of the word the apostles used literally means, “to depress” and it is a very expressive word. To the Greeks, it indicated servility, slavishness, or weakness. This may have been because the Greeks looked down upon anybody who acted in humility as not being an upstanding person of good character. Culturally, it was to them, evil, shameful, especially for a man, to behave in that manner. It exhibited to them someone who was not trustworthy. The person would be considered, at the very least, a wimp. They had no good words for somebody who was humble. They admired people who aggressively took charge, commanding others about. The Christian approach was, and is, entirely different.
There are a couple of different scriptures that gives a description of the way humility enhances one’s character by looking at the way God Himself acts. God shows, by example, it is a good quality regardless of what the Greeks thought. To God, it was a good quality. Is there anybody higher or greater than God? Listen to the way God acts:
Psalm 113:4-7 The LORD is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap.
The New Living Translation simplifies it a great deal and makes it very clear.
Psalm 113:4-7 (NLT) For the LORD is high above the nations; His glory is far greater than the heavens. Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high? Far below Him are the heavens and the earth. He stoops to look, and He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump.
Despite God’s great glory in every attribute, He is also humble enough to stoop and lift people up, even though they are way, way, way beneath Him.
One can begin to see that the Old Testament treats humility as a great, wonderful, grand, awesome, and majestic characteristic because that is the way God is.
Psalm 138:6 Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.
Psalm 138:6 (NLT) Yet though the LORD is great, He respects the humble, but proud men must keep their distance.
Both of these psalms picture God as being of awesome power, but—get this—the power is held in check in order to achieve a greater good. So rather than to destroy through self concern, God builds. You will see that this is the heart and core of humility and should be followed in the way God uses this characteristic.
Back to the New Testament and we are going to look at the example of Jesus. He was the God of the Old Testament after all.
Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
We are the ones who are down low and we are getting worn out. We need rest.
Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart [I am humble, He is saying], and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. [Servant much lower than the one in authority.] And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
This is the same God described in Psalms, acting in the same general manner as a man. Not any old man, but He, as a man. Jesus said, “I am before you as a servant” and His example and commands regarding this was, is, and continues to be the way Christians follow.
We are beginning to see that humility is not a weak and cringing approach to life. Though Jesus had this characteristic so strong within Him, He was not a cringing wallflower at all. Humility is not a denial of power. Christ had the power, but it is a deliberate controlling of power in order to accomplish a greater good. It comes into play when a person deliberately takes on a servant approach rather than a human ruler approach. It is the attitude that best promotes good relationships because it neutralizes pride and the damage it could wreak. At the least, it indicates modesty growing from a genuine self-evaluation, resulting in the person deeming himself worthless in relation to God and His truth.
This moves into the heart and core of humility. It is seen in Jesus Christ and He is to be emulated. It is a holding in check of power that might be there and we hold it in check in order to achieve a greater good. Humility requires a great deal of thoughtfulness. In this chain of thoughtfulness, there are many choices that have to be made. This is why humility has to be added to our character and it does not come naturally. We have to make the right choices.
It is important to understand the self-evaluation better. This is because in the Christian sense of humility, the person is not deeming himself worthless because he sees himself as a creature full of sin in comparison to God. Rather, he deems himself worthless because he is merely a creature of absolute dependence, even for every breath of air he breathes.
Where does that come from? To humble ourselves is not to put ourselves down as being worthless in the eyes of God, not at all. Rather it is to deem ourselves totally dependent on Him and we consciously defer to His will. He gives us every breath of air we breathe. And now we are stepping into another area that is even more important. We are totally dependent on Him spiritually. We will build this as we go along here. We have got to get this relationship on the right level between God and us. We are His sons and that is good, but we have to understand the parameters of our relationship to Him.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The context in which this scripture appears should be considered because this quality is so important to our relationship with God. The context relates to the Sermon on the Mount which occupies three whole chapters in which Jesus lays out before His followers, you and me, the foundational teaching that, if followed, will work to produce a good relationship with God. Any better advice in the entirety of the Bible pushed together into one compact unit than the Sermon on the Mount is unknown. Taking this one step further, it is the foundation of a good relationship—the teaching, the instruction, in the Sermon on the Mount.
Now, the foundation of the foundation is the Beatitudes. The first quality He gave, thus implying the prime necessity for this relationship, is poverty of spirit. Not talking about money, this is poverty of spirit. This is the diametric opposite of what haughty, competitive, self-assertive, self-efficient, arrogance of pride that says, “This is the way I see it.”
That kind of attitude speaks of pride that is worn like an ornament around a person’s neck. Being “poor in spirit” has nothing to do with being hard up in our circumstances. It has nothing to do with the physical realm. It is a part of the spiritual realm of which God and the purity of His attitude, character, and truths are the central elements and it is poverty, in us, compared to God’s spiritual quality. It is poverty, in terms of God’s Holy Spirit. It is poverty, in terms of the fruit and power of God’s Holy Spirit, all of which we desperately need. It is the attitude of the fruit of self-evaluation as compared to His spiritual qualities in which one finds himself utterly destitute of any virtues of value to eternal life. We just do not have it.
Not only that, the one comparing himself finds himself utterly unable—destitute of the power—to help himself become like God. That is the goal. Are you beginning to see something here? To be humble, in the godly sense, requires that we be honest with ourselves above all things. If we cannot be honest regarding evaluating ourselves against God, we will have trouble getting rid of pride. It is in growing in the humility like God has, that pride is cancelled. It gradually begins to disappear as a cause of resistance against Him.
Godly humility ultimately destroys pride. We have a part in this because we have to evaluate ourselves. This is why Hebrews 4:11-13 is so important. Hebrews magnifies Jesus Christ as being greater than anything that has ever come along on this earth. He is worth following and emulating. If we are going to become like Him, we have to learn of Him and His characteristics. As we do, and we begin to make this analysis a part of our thinking that goes on between God and us, the relationship begins to change to one that begins to form and shape us into beings like Him. It gives us the right basis for making choices in life and living by faith. Do you know why? Because we know Him! Eternal life is to know God.
This development of humility is essential to our growth into the image of Jesus Christ. So the humble person clearly sees, maybe not right away, but bits and pieces over time. That is why we need forty or fifty years. It is not just absorbed. We have part of this process in meditation and reading, trying to understand, analyzing God, analyzing ourselves, and trying to move ourselves into the position where we understand things better.
Thus, the humble person clearly sees and appreciates his dependence upon God (and this is critical), both physically and spiritually. The physical thing is fairly easy to see; the spiritual thing, because of the pride in us, is resistant so it is more difficult. Humility is the fruit of the realization of one’s complete spiritual dependence. One is nothing in his own eyes, and his proper spiritual place is face down in the dust before God.
I John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. . .
Put yourself in there because we are born of God, so we are to overcome the world. Notice how confident John is, “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”
I John 5:4 . . . and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Our faith is critical; salvation is by grace through faith. Overcoming is by faith.
I John 5:5 Who is he that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
So the recognition of need and becoming an overcomer leads to one living by faith. It is an impetus, is what John is saying. Jesus Christ is the One that God has assigned to empower us. He is the helper and advocate that goes alongside enabling us to become in His image. It is from Him that spiritual strength is drawn. And He gives grace to the humble.
David said in Psalm 39:5 that man, at his best state, is alltogether vanity, being merely a vapor. But David said to add to that so the needs are more clearly seen.
Psalm 40:16 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” But I am poor and needy. . .
David is king. He had a lot of money. He is not talking physically. He saw his need, which is one of the reasons why he was a man after God’s own heart. Even though he sinned, he still put himself on a level where he could see that he needed God to do what he needed to do.
Psalm 40:17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. [God stoops to those who are humble and He lifts them up.] You are my help and my deliverer. Do not delay, O my God.
Here is advice from David. He saw his need so he exemplifies it by praying to God: “I am way below You. I want to be like You. I see You are willing to supply me with what I need to become like You.” And so God will stoop to lift up that person who has that kind of attitude before Him.
Why is this so important? Think about the borrower standing humbly before the lender. Can you see yourself and your dependence expressed in what David said, “the poor and the needy”? A person with a great deal of pride cannot. They do not need God. They do not need Jesus Christ. They are self-sufficient. Their goals in life have nothing to do with becoming like God. Their goals are not spiritual ones related to a relationship with God. It is very likely their goals in life are going to be the achievement of physical greatness in some way, shape, or form. They may have the abilities innate within them and developed within them to do that. But a person with a mindset of David will seriously and soberly listen to God. And he will benefit from doing it.
This is why Jesus uses the illustration of becoming like a little child. A child looks at his parents differently than he will when he is grown up. Notice Jesus says “a little child.”
There are circumstances that will help the evaluation that lead to one humbling himself, if the person is rightly analyzing himself as he goes along.
Luke 18:13-14 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” [Jesus said] “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than other; for everyone who exalts himself [the quality of pride] will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The tax collector had an honest and right evaluation of his flaws as compared to God’s perfection. This will help someone toward becoming humble if we will make the right evaluation between God and ourselves because the flaws in our character become exposed. Once exposed, we will go to Him in the right attitude asking Him to eradicate it, get rid of it, and replace the flaws with His character.
Luke 15:17-21 But when he came to himself [the prodigal son], he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [You can see he is analyzing what is going on in his life.] I will arise [he reaches a conclusion] and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you [notice this evaluation] and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
Again, he is comparing himself to a much higher standard. In the parable, the Father is God and the son is the sinner who goes to the Father. What he sees in himself, in this comparison, is workable. It does not mean he is not worth anything; rather it means that his character is not like the Father’s. He wants to become like the Father, so seeing poverty of spirit, he goes to the Father.
I Kings 3:6-9 Solomon said, “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord, my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people."
We see Solomon lifting before God his limitation. He knows he is not able to do what he needs to and humbles himself before God asking God to make the change in him.
Isaiah 6:1-5 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covers his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said [very significant words]: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I [Isaiah] said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
What did we learn there? Isaiah saw God. I am asking you in these sermons for us to be able to see God in our mind’s eye from the descriptions given of Him in the Bible. The descriptions are in the Bible so we can make comparisons of ourselves with Him, not other people, with Him, and we are always going to fall short in every area of life. What did Isaiah compare himself to? God’s holiness; he said, “I am filthy dirty” and he meant inside and out, from the heart right on out. He needed to be changed. He is groveling, as it were, before God asking to be changed, “I want to be like You.” What human father would not like for a son to say that to him? That is really great stuff!
The apostle Paul adds to that in Philippians.
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision [he includes you and me in this], who worship God in the Spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I might have confidence in the flesh.
Humility has nothing to do with anything physical; it has to do with spiritual matters.
Philippians 3:4-9 If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and may count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Isaiah compares himself to God’s holiness, Paul compares himself with Jesus Christ’s righteousness, and he came up worse. Paul said he physically had all the good stuff and counted it as rubbish. Where do we stand, even in relationship to Paul, in comparison?
We have already seen an awareness of one's flaws, worthlessness, knowing one's limitations; a comparison to God’s holiness and Jesus Christ’s righteousness, and when we get into Deuteronomy 8, we see something there that promotes humility. Very familiar scriptures.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3 Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness [what for?], to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man should not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
Who afflicted these people? God did, and therein is the lesson. Affliction promotes humility and God did it to humble and test them. The next verse helps promote humility and usually works fast.
II Chronicles 12:5-12 Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak [he was threatening them with his army], and said to them, “Thus said the Lord: 'You have forsaken Me, and therefore have I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.'" So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, "They have humbled themselves;" and they said, “The Lord is righteous.” Now when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves; therefore, I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service and the service of the kingdoms of the nations.” So Shishak king of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. [They repented, they were humbled but God did not lift them up immediately.] He also carried away the shields of gold which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made shields of brass [much cheaper] in their place, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered into the house of the Lord, the guard would go and bring them out, and they would take them into the guard chamber. And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah.
What is it in that circumstance that produces humility? This is a good one. Remember this, it usually happens fast: impending doom. We are really between a rock and a hard place and we cry out to God to intervene and so we humble ourselves. That is good and should be done. God can see the humility. He reaches down and lifts us up so we do not face the doom completely. But He may leave us quite damaged so that we learn the lesson and submit ourselves to Him all the time.
These verses showed what promoted humility so it can get going in us. They usually involved an evaluation that pushes us pretty hard to go in a positive direction. But as we close, let us go back to Solomon, just a little later in the same chapter as before. What we are going to see are the positive effects of humility and why it is of value, in many cases, right away.
I Kings 3:11-14 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for a long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I also give you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all of your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."
What does humility do as we begin to put it to work? Solomon put it to work by seeing his limitations. He went in the right direction in what he asked for. God came back and shows us that humility produces honor from God, and usually riches besides. Do you not want that? That is a positive effect. We are not to humble ourselves just to get those things, but God holds it out there to show it is going to produce positive things for us.
II Chronicles 7:14-15 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, [here we are with Solomon again] and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land. [Wow!] Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
What a promise! If we will humble ourselves, He will hear us! That is pretty hard to beat. Here is another awesome one. This verse should be in our scriptural vocabulary.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity [My mind cannot grasp that. How can God inhabit eternity? As long as there has been time, there has been God.], whose name is Holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.
Humility ensures God’s blessings. What a blessing and we can only be grateful. We have a good foundation of humility that it is a result of contact with God, which we must have before we have godly humility. There must be contact with God. There must be grace given by Him by means of His Spirit. Then our responsibility begins, as He expects us to make brutally honest comparisons between ourselves and His character, His attitude, His holiness, and His righteousness. If we are thinking right, we will see that we are so far beneath Him.
We need Him in our lives because we are broken—poverty stricken, and we know it. If there is ever going to be any lifting up and spiritual wealth begins to accrue to us, it is because we have honestly evaluated ourselves against Him and we will bow before Him and submit.