Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Always be humble. How is this possible with a hope that must remain confident? Confidence and humility seem to be contradictory qualities. Maybe it is not so much the traits themselves but how they are applied that determines if they conflict. Jane Austen said, “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” To say that I am a humble person often reflects a heart that is not humble at all. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. In fact, it is often marked by the feeling of insignificance, inferiority and complete subservience. Called to have confident hope, it is in Christ alone and never ourselves. The moment that one believes anything they do or say is more significant than the work of Christ within them, the threshold has been crossed. If reading this you think, this does not apply to me, it most certainly does. Pride does not find itself in the Word of God. It lies to its owner that there is no need to pay attention or look any farther than the surface. Today I must inspect my heart to determine the places that pride have placed its stake. These are the areas of my life in need of full repentance in order to right my way with the Lord.
2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, I agree completely. It identifies the evil rulers, authorities and mighty rulers of darkness along with evil spirits in heavenly places as the opposition in our life. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. But not every battle that we face is external. There are many conflicts to be resolved internally. Romans 7:18-20 tells of another force to be reckoned with in life. Paul reveals that “nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t what to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not the one really doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.” Not every battle that encountered in life is spiritual oppression but sometimes it is God putting pressure on that thing inside us keeping us from His Better Way.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…” I want to stop here for a moment today. Prayer is not the problem. People pray every day. In fact, in some cases, prayer is an excuse not to do what the Lord has already told us to do tricking believers into ignoring outright disobedience. Pride is the problem. We do not want to humble ourselves before the Lord. Because to truly do so means to humble ourselves in the world as well. Are you facing a trial in your life today? Are you experiencing too many obstacles to overcome? When this happens, it is important that rather than giving the enemy all the credit in a successful attack to humble ourselves and consider this – could it be me?
Matthew 5:5 (NLT) God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
What is the most valuable commodity on the earth? It is the human soul. Nothing is more valuable to God than those who He created in His Own Image. With this in mind, humility is the very quality that will release revival on the earth. Why? Because if we inherit the “whole earth” the worth of the world it’s people. Pride hinders our ministry. Oh, we all have a ministry. It is the footsteps that comprise our life and define our walk with God. We don’t have to have a fancy pulpit or sanctuary filled with stadium seats. In fact, the loudest message preached is the life that we lead outside of church.
Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride keeps us from following the Lord completely and doing right. (Psalm25:8-10) Compromise on any level keeps us from our inheritance. Humility is absolutely necessary to fully surrender our life to Christ. We must follow Jesus. The moment the thought takes hold that there is anything that the Lord “needs” us to do is the moment pride has planted a seed in our heart and mind that will kill our harvest. The world doesn’t need us. His Grace is sufficient. The Lord is all-powerful. Our service to Jesus Christ is our deep desire to honor His Sacrifice with our life. We add nothing to it. Pride says “if I don’t do it nobody else will.” Oh how find the fine the line between confidence in Christ and the pride of life.
Pride distances us from God. (Psalm 138:6) That’s just fine with the enemy, because the closer he can come when we are far from the Lord. Do you feel isolated and alone? Pride is a joy killer. (Isaiah 29:18-20) It causes us to lose the joy of our salvation that is always Jesus. People cannot touch the joy of the humble as they live wrapped in a robe of righteousness in the Presence of their Savior. It is well-protected by the close proximity of Christ in us. Human pride will be revealed and brought low on Judgment Day because there is only one throne and it belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Isaiah 2:11)
The Book of Proverbs gives several warnings about pride. It is that which comes before a fall. (16:18) To be saved, we must swallow our pride. (6:3) The Lord hates pride and arrogance. (8:13) Pride leads to disgrace. (11:2) Pride leads to conflict. (13:10) Pride ends in humiliation. (29:23) Pride is problematic. To consider every opposition and obstacle in our life as a spiritual attack and not consider pride as the source is to say that I am too good to repent. Repentance is the constant turning of our heart over to the Lord. To evaluate any and all situations and not consider it to be the product of pride is to deny oneself of the Grace of Almighty God offered to those who live in humility before Him.
Matthew 23:11-15 (NLT) The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
To serve Christ means humbling our life before Him and doing what He requires not what religion tells us to do. Religiosity is the pride of the church. It will produce sorrow in the sower and division among the people. We must humble ourselves before the Lord in all things. Right standing with God is never based on my ability to perform but my willingness to submit my life to Jesus. Religion gives Christians an environment to “feel good” about themselves which will always produce pride. No one is exempt and all the servants of God must crucify their flesh daily to stay in step with the Lord. Especially those who gain influence and attention in the church, one’s position can develop a sense of pride that prohibits a life of repentance due to the expectations of others and our own expectation of self. We are afraid of what others think so we do not humble ourselves as we should. We do not answer the call to the altar because we must “work” it. This is all wrong. Are we too religious to be righteous? Is pride keeping me from the Kingdom to just build the church?
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
I am humble and gentle at heart. To be like Jesus, we must adopt these two qualities and develop them in our life. Perhaps you are thinking, I am humble. I am gentle. I have been a Christian for a very long time. Let me tell you a little secret. There is pride in all of us looking for a way out. I was a Christian for many, many years. I thought I was “doing” all the right things. I believed I was sharing the Good News with those around me. God had blessed me with a great job that I was good at so I was pouring a whole lot of time into it and prospering. We served God in our home and church. Faithfully “doing” the things His Word called for. I had it all under control. I assumed God was happy with me because we were blessed and prospering in all things. Life was good.
When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it forced me to reevaluate some things in order to survive. I couldn’t bear the burden of my life alone. The mirror that I had been looking at myself in was shattered on a hospital room floor along with my heart. I could not go back to my “normal” life. I was devastated at what I found. Pride had consumed me. Once forfeited, I could take Christ’s yoke upon me. I was humbled in a moment. It was ugly. It was painful. It was necessary. It wasn’t the enemy who invaded my heart, mind and life. It was the lie that I was capable of anything good outside of Jesus Christ. What followed was a whole lot of repentance, many apologies, some mending of ways, and a whole new life. I could not go back to my normal life again. Pride comes before the fall for sure. The bigger they are the harder they fall is so true. I am so thankful for the lesson that was learned in the midst of tragedy. What the enemy used to harm me actually gave God the opportunity to change me.
Are you overloaded today? Do you feel isolated or maybe even under attack? Have you asked yourself today, could it be me? I find that when peace and joy are elusive it is not an external attack but my flesh rises up for superiority over the grace that has been given to me. Pride is a performer. It will not give up its place willingly and must be ripped out by its roots. It will choke out every good deed our faith attempts to do to honor our Father. Jesus wants to take His Rightful Place next to us and carry our burdens. But He will not share the load with you – He exchanges it for His Burden which is easy and light. Ask the Lord to examine your heart today as I do mine. Ask Him today – “Could it be me, Lord?” I assure you that He will answer. He always does.
Psalm 69:32(NLT) The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.