Monday, October 06, 2014

What is Spiritual Humility?


I Pet.5:5 … Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Matt.11: 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
This is a most profound challenge. But what does it really mean as it pertains to a lifestyle revelation? This goes way beyond an abstract theology and a prose heavy presentation which illuminates the mind but fails to reveal itself in a remarkable and observable demonstration in the life of a true believer. I still struggle mightily with its practical application amidst a fallen culture. But to be meek and lowly in heart is an incredible standard set by our Master.

Standing for truth while retaining and exhibiting a meek and lowly heart is path that can only be traversed with a powerful understanding of the Scriptures as well as a relentless surrender to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The denying of self contained in such a path goes against everything we have been taught in and outside of the church. To bridle the tongue requires a bridling of the mind and heart first. In fact it requires a complete denial of the fleshly mind and heart and a painful and illogical and life changing surrender to all Jesus lived and taught. And that, my friends, is infinitely more than a few moral stands.

But the measure of true humility is Jesus. Just the Incarnation would be more than we could handle, but these verses should remove any hint of self righteousness cloaked in moral umbrage.

Heb.12: For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Now think about these verses carefully. This is an exhortation to us who belong to Him and yet live in a world of sin and sinners. Our Savior and our Example lived and walked in this world as well. And He was not only sinless, but He was the Holy God revealed in human flesh. There was no one who had more right to be offended about the debauchery displayed openly all around Him, and yet He endured the persecution of sinners with grace and patience and even love. And just in case we miss the point the Spirit adds this phrase “Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

And with that the Spirit unmasks our hypocrisy and self righteousness because we require of lost sinners that which we fall short of ourselves, to say nothing of their utter inability to repent in the flesh. In other words Jesus endured their offensiveness and yet died for them. That indeed is an expression of selflessness unequaled by any other act in time.

Listen with the ears of the Spirit here. Instead of complaining or forming political groups or even scolding the common sinner or returning railing for railing or evil for evil, Jesus gave His very life. Now, compare that with the way some professing believers approach unsaved sinners. And we are not enduring nails and thorns and spittle and spears. No, we are just called to endure unkindness or less than superlative service or some other minor inconvenience – all for Jesus sake. You see, the world responds with complaining or calling the manager or making note of some lost person’s offense, but we are not of this world.

I do not say this glibly or as one who has attained the purest of victories in this area, but truth is truth despite any preacher's shortcomings. One of the ways you can understand humility is to understand self righteousness. And one of the ways you can notice self righteousness is when it comes in the form of reaction and response. Self righteousness always has a sense of entitlement, and when it is offended by word or deed it responds in like kind. If never suffers an injustice with silence and grace.

Self righteousness awaits an outside provocation, and when it inevitably comes self righteousness is ready for a confrontation. Things in this world irritate self righteousness since it lives with a thin skinned self awareness that is empowered by a grossly exaggerated estimation of its own worth. Self righteousness is a narcissistic monster, and it can see clearly the faults of others while rationalizing its own. It can even put on a shroud of humility while actively judging everyone else. It is clever beyond words. I have and continue to interact with it often in my own life.

However our view of the world can be a friend or an enemy of self righteousness. It can be as breeding ground or a wall for self righteousness. Remember this. It is not just enough to espouse a doctrinal humility which embraces total depravity for ourselves and complete worthiness for Christ. That, my friends, is a theological truth which sometimes can find little expression in practice.

But having a Christ perspective of the world is essential to cultivating and practicing a spiritual humility in thought, word, and deed. Jesus looks out upon the fallen debauchery of this world and sees fields of white ready for the harvest. And yet how many professing believers look upon the world with disgust and condemnation without any gospel pathos? But this is a result of a moral man perspective of the world rather than a gospel perspective of the world. And that is not only a great tragedy, but it deeply and almost completely misrepresents the heart of Jesus Christ.

But it also reveals a palpable self righteousness which assumes one’s immaculate moral standing based upon one’s own practiced morality. Who can be self righteous over the righteousness given to us through Christ just by faith? No one. So the self righteousness emanates from the view that we do not do some of the things others do or don’t do. And yet Jesus expanded morality by teaching that thoughts were just as sinful as deeds. And who is more indictable, those who sin who have God living inside them or those who sin without any knowledge of God whatsoever? To whom much is given much is required.

So how do you see the world and yourself? Do you have a sense of entitlement? While professing believers in the Sudan starve and are murdered, do you feel umbrage when you are mistreated in a store? While professing believers live in Muslim countries and must hide for fear do you react to some slight or injustice which offends your democratic and capitalist senses? I once read a narrative from a professing Christian blogger who thought she was mistreated in a store by a clerk and she called the manager to report that injustice. Her contention was the she was a consumer and demanded better treatment. Can you even imagine such a thing being Biblical or Christ-like? And yet her followers joined in with her umbrage, an umbrage so intense she felt it necessitated a public outcry. Wow, how far have we come?

There can be no revival, there can be no power, there can be no epistles read of all men until we, the followers of Jesus, truly follow Him in selfless humility which walks in a world of offences and receives them gladly for His sake. How can we ever claim to be different when we react and respond just as does the lost kingdom? Our doctrines have become our cloaks which attempt to hide our blatant unbelief and disobedience to the teachings and life example of Jesus. The world knows nothing of the true Jesus not because they do not read the Bible for most never will. But it is because they cannot see Him on this earth through the lives of those who claim they live for Him and He lives through them.

And yet the church services go on as if the only thing wrong is “out there”. Where are the pulpit servants calling for a deep repentance from the orthodox crowd? Where are the prayer meetings called specifically for beseeching God for His forgiveness for our wayward and selfish ways? Where are the fastings which desire a self examination by the Spirit of God? But like a great and redundant machine the visible church moves on mostly by the power of community and organization but without any acknowledgment of just how self righteous and culturally imprisoned we are. The blindness continues with good music and useful preaching.

Hosea 10: 12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

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