The Importance of Humility – NOW!

In the realm of religion the status quo of the day appears to be the exaltation of self. This can be both profound and purposeful, or subtle and ignorant. Either way, the flesh of every man is tempted by the lure of the pride of life, often taking the bait that snatches us out of the waters of true humility – the preeminent disposition of the faith in the Truth, Jesus Christ.

To exalt oneself is of the greatest of evils, for in that exaltation, we distract the attention and the affections of people from where they ought to be, which is towards God. That is, in our exaltation, we become a hindrance to people coming to Christ, and a stumbling block to many who may be on the cusp of conversion. Jesus alludes to this in Luke 18:9-14, providing a parable on the disposition of the justified. Jesus gives a comparison between a Pharisee with all of the outward appearance of religion and a widely recognized sinner tax collector; the one separates himself from everyone else and prayerfully thanks God that he is different, that he is not like other men in their sinful ways, that he fasts twice a week and tithes; the tax collector, in brokenness, would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus’ conclusion is that this man went home right before God, while the other who exalted himself and comforted himself by his religiosity did not; that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and that those who humble themselves will be exalted.

The question for us is not will we be humbled, but when? Christ clearly states that every person will be humbled. The importance of this statement cannot be overemphasized, because the “when” of one’s humility is the difference between eternal life and eternal destruction away from God. A man will either humble himself now, in this temporal life, and thereby be declared righteous before God – because humility before God is the outcome of the knowledge of one’s sin and need for God’s mercy and the realization of that mercy in the grace of Jesus Christ – or he will exalt himself now, in this temporal life, and be humbled on that day when God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus – whereby he will find himself lacking and condemned to hell. The apostle Paul would write that (because Christ supremely humbled himself even unto death on a cross) God “has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11.

If it was through the Divine humility that Divine exaltation came for our Lord, how much more ought we who bear His awesome name follow Him in His pattern and method of glorifying God. The admonishment is “Delight yourself in the Lord,” and not, “delight yourself in the creature.” God is the only Being in the universe where self-exaltation is the most loving of directions, for when we are so directed, our souls and minds and wills are led to Him who most satisfies, indeed, to Him who alone is perfectly worthy of our delight. Jesus, in His humanity and humility, understood this, and longed to be exalted back to the fullness of that Divine delight within the fellowship of the Godhead.

Therefore, let us be humble, for God gives grace to the humble, and it is grace that we need. We ought not as Christians to put on the subtle facade of humility, a facade that proves itself false when we attempt to be humble but our attempt is made in order to be exalted by men – “ah, do you see how humble that man is, did you see his kind act, how he shuns all credit” – and hearing the praise of men the supposed act of humility actually serves to feed our pride instead. So there is a true humility and a false sense of humility. Whereas by the one our end is to be observed as humble, so by the one that is true our end is that God may be more clearly seen, that God may be more powerfully glorified, that God may exalt us in due time. It is not the exaltation of men and of the day that we seek, beloved, but rather that exaltation that comes from God in secret and in that eternal life which is to come.

It is a terrible thing in this day that many dear believers are followers of men, preachers, and teachers, rather than Jesus Christ, that men base their ministry off of themselves and their own abilities rather than upon God’s Word, His Son our Lord, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The latter and better type of ministry is the one that will prove most faithful, fruitful, and true, for there, Christ is the foundation, and humility the spirit, and grace thereby reigns. The apostle Paul never introduced his letters, “Paul, a highly trained, wonderfully educated minister, having earned the equivalent of 4 Ph.D.’s in biblical theology, church history, missiology, and church education, while founding several successful church plants all over the world, come to you…”, although many guest preachers and speakers are either introduced by others or self-introduced in this way. No, in his epistle to the Romans he writes, “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” (1:1) To the Corinthians, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.” (1 Cor. 3:5) And when he did boast he boasted in his weakness and in the power of Christ (2 Cor. 11:30, 12:9) and on the occasion that he boasted of himself he paused to say – “I am talking like a madman” (2 Cor. 11:23) – but even that was to make certain to others the authenticity of his apostleship in Christ.

Humility is the only possible disposition of the Christian who truly understands the Gospel, that they are sinners saved by grace through faith and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God, that no one should boast. The same seed of sin in them is in even the worst of sinners, but a salvation given to them by God through faith in Christ as a gift and not due to any merit in them whatsoever – they have no merit; their wage is God’s eternal wrath – this realization brings us low, breaks us before God, that we dare not look up to heaven, but earnestly beat our chest and plead with God, “Be merciful to me a sinner!” And Christ assures us, we shall go home justified, and in time, exalted as adopted children of God in Christ to His glory.

May we who know Christ wear gladly the badge of a bondservant. May humility characterize us that God may be exalted. Let us not be a hindrance to others coming to Christ because of sinful self-exaltation; rather, abase yourself constantly, know the horror of your sin, and the wonder of God’s salvation, and by this disposition, help others to see the surpassing value of Christ Jesus our Lord. Do not wait to be humbled before God, for then it may be to late, and you will find yourself humbled in horror of His glory; be humbled now, that through faith in Christ, Christ will declare to you, “go home justified…you shall be exalted in Me in eternal life.”

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