Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) To revere Jesus Christ in our life requires submission. To be completely humble and gentle. To be patient and loving. To make every effort to keep harmony, unity and agreement in the Spirit bonded by peace. This may very well be the most difficult aspect of submission to God. It is a sacrifice of pride that leaves people vulnerable and is completely contrary to society. It leaves our heart open, broken and exposed to His Grace and susceptible to the insults, offenses and hurts of other people who do not live by the same. To be united with Christ, I must have a humble heart.
The humble heart might be achievable if believers could hide away in their prayer closet or live lost worshipping in the Presence of God. But that, my friend, is not where we live. As temporary residents of this world, to find time and place in the Kingdom can be a struggle. Busyness becomes the enemy of time spent with the Lord. Troubles, trials and tragedy tread on the human heart making it hard, callous and even bitter. To walk by faith and not by sight is to keep our eyes on the unseen yet living, breathing God. Well, one trip to Wal-Mart may very well drain every ounce of patience left on reserve. A quick drive across town may evoke enough anger to steal every bit of our joy. Dealing with teenagers is a call to preserve and a reminder that the terrible twos should have been a sign. Bills pile up. The unexpected catches us off guard. People seem to be our problem. All these factors, do not change or impact the Word of God. It stands firm, true and constant just as the One who delivers it. Lord, teach us how to live with humble hearts.
John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Jesus instructs us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5) There is even a full description of love in I Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” The opposite of proud is humble. Love is humble. It is to offer our heart equally to the just and unjust. To give it to those who are worthy and unworthy following the example of Christ. If they do not love us back, it should not be because we are unlovable. Grace given to us must be paid forward to others.
To be a disciple of Christ requires a humble heart. A heart be molded and shaped in the image of that possessed by Jesus. The King who took off his crown and left his throne to give his people life. Life more abundantly. Full satisfaction. To offer access by way of a humble life and tragic death to give us victory that He already possessed. Jesus is the example of humility. To continue to maintain pride and selfishness withholding love and grace from others is to deem our life more important than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Love one another defines the parameters of this commandment (not suggestion) to all people. To walk in the shadow of Jesus and live in His Image requires selfless love of humble stature. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Accepting the unacceptable. Rejecting offense and not becoming offended. It literally is to lay our pride on the altar allowing our heart to remain broken before the Lord. Accepting His Love makes this the mandate for our life.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
”In your relationships with one another…” A relationship is a connection, association or involvement. This does not limit relationship to familial or friendship. It is not defined by intimacy. A relationship is formed upon meeting or interacting with another person. When you open the door to allow someone to enter, it is a connection. Maybe you smile as they walk by or nod your head to acknowledge their quick “thank you” hurrying by. A connection is made in that moment. It is a stranger yet still there is a form of relationship. By opening the door to allowing them to enter before you, there is a humble giving of way that takes a step back. Maybe if we begin by allowing others to enter physical doors, or stop our vehicle to allow others safe passage across a crowded parking lot with a smile, it will crack open our hearts just a little to the Light of His Love and the impact kindness has on the world today.
To be honest, marriages and family relationships are hard enough without trying to live in love with everyone else. The word “dysfunction” is closely associated with every family I know even those I hold in high regard including my own. The church is no better. Arguments and disagreements that would easily be resolved by love and humility quickly escalate to hurt feelings and division. Pride is the culprit. Humility is the cure. Religion tries to do everything possible to emulate relationships that only love, grace and mercy will allow. God is breaking open the heart of His People today and calling them to accountability. Jesus is coming! Love will be the line drawn in the sand dividing the save and unsaved. Love is the ticket. To be found with a humble heart. Love must be the death of me.
I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Be sympathetic. There are several meanings to the word “sympathetic” that apply to a humble heart. It means to be characterized by compassion. God is compassionate. Each morning the new mercy given is from God’s Love and Compassion for us. It is the nature of a mutual responsive relationship which is the very character of godly submission. Is to look upon others with favor just as Jesus gives us His Favor. Sympathy is synonymous with kindness, tenderness and great affection. We must pay forward all these things from the reservoir of receivership since Christ has given them to us in full measure. By faith, I can pay it forward knowing that God’s Love and Faithfulness will never let me down no matter how others treat me or whether or not human love reciprocated. His Love will continue to fill my life as I continually pour it into others.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11) Just like a fence, offense can be a barrier in life. It doesn’t keep others out but keeps us from the wide space of freedom that is our calling in Christ. Fear and insecurity quickly build walls around the hearts of God’s People when offense is allowed to clutter our heart and mind. Strongholds are formed from such thought. The limitation is placed on our life in one’s attempt to protect their heart from being broken. The Lord is close the brokenhearted. I cannot live in close proximity to God preserving my pride living behind walls of fear and insecurity. In such a place, pride has its way with us and the favor of God is far from us. It is to our glory and God’s Glory when we overlook offense. Opening the gateway of forgiveness, to move on in our high calling in response to the Shepherd’s Voice.
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”(Proverbs 17:9) The growth of God’s Love in us is inhibited by offense. Bitterness chokes out the truth marked as seed of the human heart. We allow their offense to be greater than the Blood of Jesus in our mind. We are called to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Fostering love in our life is a form of submission to God’s Power and Authority. Placing our life and love in His Compassionate Care while venturing out to love in all relationships. As the Body of Christ, to build His Kingdom, unity and agreement is a requirement. It will never be found taking our own way but following the example of Jesus Christ fully and completely beginning with His Love. A humble heart is the only way to live such a life. To overcome every obstacle. To experience fulfillment. To fulfill God’s Purpose.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Come to me – an invitation to those who are weary and burdened. Jesus promises to give us rest. Take my yoke and learn from me – now comes the point that we have come to – I am gentle and humble in heart. What if the weariness in our spirit and heaviness of our burdens are not from the enemy but a prideful heart? What if the problem is that in carrying our burdens to the Lord, we refuse to take His Yoke? Love is the yoke that binds us to Christ and the offering our heart to others. It is the agreement and unity that creates a real relationship with Jesus. He came to save us not condemn us. The only condemnation is to love darkness more than the Light of His Love. Pride is the darkest depravity of the human soul because it elevates itself against God. Creating conflict and hostility within us that is so subtle like a cancer destroying our soul unnoticed. Healing comes in the form of brokenness. Taking all the broken pieces of a heart subject to all the unmet expectations of love to the Lover of our soul who was willing to lay down His Life and Lordship for us. To accept – I must have a humble heart and follow Christ’s example of love.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.