Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Teach Me Humility, Jesus

I seem to have forgotten it once again

Phil.2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Peter exhorts us to be “clothed with humility”. That phrase alone if taken in depth should cause us to see how much territory we have yet to cover personally. But Paul in his letter to the Philippian church outlines a descent, or better yet ascent, into spiritual humility that is astounding and a great mystery. I have often and chronically stepped measurably outside the guidelines as offered by Paul. And Paul’s teaching centers around the most profound act of humility ever possible, the Incarnation and subsequent death of the Creator God in the likeness of sinful flesh. I am quite inadequate to fully unpack that eternal truth and then juxtapose upon the life of us who follow Christ.

But let us look at what is being presented, not for our amusement or even our doctrinal library, but for our example. Again, as in most of my teachings I recuse myself as anyone’s judge or even as an example. I openly admit to being much more a teacher and much less an example in this area, and to be honest, I have a long way to go just to understand the magnitude and power inherent in the humility of Christ. It is a majestic mystery which to this day remains a topic not widely pursued.

Everything about our culture stands against humility. Sports, politics, business, and just the normal course of western living bolsters a life where humility is considered a weakness. And subliminally and with open knowledge we buy into that attitude and we walk in the power of ourselves and not in His all powerful humility. In fact, the church has lost the desire for humility and has even lost the Scriptural essence of what humility means and looks like in a culture of self promotion and fleshly manipulation. Louder is better; clever argument wins; communicative acumen is influence; and the sheer power of personality has become truth. And to my shame I openly admit to sometimes enjoying the fruit of all of those categories.

I thoroughly believe that a large part of our lack of humility can be traced to our prayer lives. When we step away fresh from a personal encounter with Christ we are humbled and have been whittled into a more distinct resemblance of our Master. But given enough time, and given the right circumstances, we can quickly resume our former selves. And we have become so adept at this Christian experience that we can act completely out of the nature and character of Christ, devoid of personal humility, and still suggest we are championing His cause. That, my friends, is some fleshly acrobatics. I have often, and even recently, received a perfect “10” from the divine judge in that area.

Does your mouth ever run way ahead of your mind to say nothing of the Spirit? My mouth is a sprinter and often God’s Spirit is left at the starting blocks. And afterward I am ashamed and cut to the quick. Humility, the humility outlined in the second chapter of Philippians, is a profound pursuit that is impossible to master when it is not even a pursuit. How can we emulate and demonstrate the humility that Jesus embodied upon the cross? I mean let us be real. And yet that is what we are called to. So why is it not a mainstay of the church and of us His followers? It is because it is not pleasant to the flesh. It does not minister to our fallen nature. It has no earthly reward. And given the immense proportions contained in His crucifixion, it bears the excruciating pain that comes with the fellowship of His sufferings. I have often strived to avoid that kind of pain, to my shame.

So if we are to be honest, painfully honest, humility has a symbiotic relationship with love. I cannot fully understand it, but I know it. To reject humility is to love yourself, and to love yourself is to diminish the love of God. I am not speaking of repeating words like “worm” and “wretch” and publicly applying them to yourself with a clandestine attempt to prove your doctrinal orthodoxy. I have done that as well. But when we love God supremely, we cannot be anything but humble. And our mouths become fountains of grace and love and not spiritual hubris. This is quite a violent battlefield.

But true humility glorifies Christ. Acting and speaking in ways that are seasoned with grace lifts up Jesus. And regardless of which doctrines you are defending and which heretic your are correcting, without an uncomfortable and observable humility you are in effect defending yourself. How many times have I done that? It makes a grown Grandpa like me weep. I have so often attempted to defend Christ and His Word with words and attitudes that openly go against His teachings. Can you imagine such a thing? Yes, I think you can.

And today I have spoken what I believe on a plate of self righteousness. I hurt someone I do not know that well, but most of all I have grieved the Spirit. I do not ever speak that which I do not believe, however I sometimes wrap what I believe with ribbons and bows of my own self serving words and attitudes. I repent once again. I am sorry for the one I have hurt. I praise a Savior and Lord who continues to strive with me and forgives me. And although I continue to provide ample evidence that I have a long, long way to go, I cannot help but worship the Lord who picks me up, dusts me off, and sets my feet once again upon the Rock that is higher than I.

Teach me humility, Jesus, I seem to have forgotten it once again.


Anonymous said...

Those of us who chose to descend as Christ
Descended will find much room at the bottom.
There's just WAY to many ascending to the
Top, jostling for positions, reputation ,
Names for ourselves , within the church system
And the world's.we can truly love on and serve
The needy if we are below them.

Rick Frueh said...


mrs k said...

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

Thanks be to God!

michael said...

Mrs K,

that is what is astounding about it isn't it? Jesus was tempted in this point being made in here by Rick!

With that said I think of His beckoning us here:

Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Thanks again Rick. This is such a rich Word and it humiliates me, too!

May God's richest blessing flow from His Heaven that is to your earth day, Rick, where you live and work and play!

Anonymous said...

I am (mercifully) reminded that I can't "work up" or "supply" or "will" humility. It is the Divine Nature; and not to be found one iota in my fallen nature. But thanks be to the Lord Who makes us partakers of the divine nature! 2Pet.1:3,4!

Oh, I have seen the beauty of Jesus' self-giving, self-emptying humility, and wanted to attain to it. And in good intention, I did the actions that a humble one would do, putting others first and sacrificing; but somewhere along the way I had become legalistic or humanistic, and I was trying to manufacture it, to conform to a standard in my own efforts, and it made me resentful and hurt and judgmental toward others and toward myself. Oh where had I fallen from the grace of abiding IN Him and letting His life flow, and from putting on Christ?

I thank God for this post. And I thank Him for sending me again to writings like 2Pet.1:3,4 and Andrew Murray's that lead me back to simply trusting and believing and abiding (and obeying!) but deliver me from the error that had condemned me that I had to come up to the standard. No--I simply have to die and allow the Perfect One to live out His life in me in the power of His Spirit!


Rick Frueh said...

Amen to all.

Anonymous said...

The reason I started reading here is because of the honesty and humility, which was something that I couldn't find on any other christian site. I thank the Lord for Rick Frueh.

It's so easy though to feel that satisfied justification when someone else is doing wrong. I've been there, done that. I've been working on my nature, trying to remember that I cave and have opinions on politics and the abounding hypocrisies, but it doesn't edify if only I discuss it like the retired guys at McDonald's in the early morning hours having a coffee and nitpicking about death taxes and politics. It doesn't change anything. It just creates more frustration and confusion.

There may be other sites out there that teach with the fruit of the Spirit, but I have yet to find any. I'm not looking for any perfect sites, only those who say, like Bro. Rick, that they sometimes stumble (with humility) and will try again. There are many sites that claim they're christian, and slam man after man (men of the world system). They attack liberals, unbelievers, or those not of their ilk who do not yet know Jesus Christ. They are barking up the wrong tree. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, yet these christian sites condemn the men in the world left and right. They love to judge unbelievers. They refuse to bring the dark deeds of church men and women to light or to chastise them. They make it seem that anyone who claims they are a christian are pure and righteous, even though they speak and act like the devil. The epistles were directed at the Church. Warnings, admonishing, guidance was directed at the saints. So why do so many professed christians speak so cruelly about those who don't yet believe? Shouldn't they be warning believers?

If christians in the public square would look after their own House, unbelievers might be drawn to Jesus. If the role model christians who have a public voice would clean out their own vessels in public, maybe sinners would be drawn to the humility of Christ. But sinners aren't drawn to the church, especially now, because churchmen/churchwomen are acting as though they are sinless, pointing the finger at secular politicians, and arriving at zero in setting a Christ-like example.

Anonymous said...

More of Him. Less of me.

Anonymous said...

I can truly relate to what you are saying Pastor Rick. This is a moment by moment battle with the flesh and that is why we are invited to walk in the Spirit. I appreciate how the Holy Spirit checks you right away. When I feel the pull of that yoke, I just smile and say, "thank you for correcting me."

We are like little children who need constant guidance. So I don't do the guilt trip any more. I just thank God for the gift of His Spirit. What a wonderful experience to know that God is right there guiding you all the way. His yoke is easy.