May 16, 2012

To Pour Life into Others, We Must Be Humble

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. -Philippians 2:1-3 ESV
As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you. ~C.S. Lewis 
I'd like to share a Bible story with you today. See, in the Old Testament we're introduced to David. Now God had anointed David to be king over Israel in order to replace Saul, a king who did not heed, obey, or love God. Because of this Saul spent years chasing and tracking down David in order that he might kill him and keep his power as the king. It's during this on-the-run season of David's life he meets Abigail. Unfortunately Abigail was married to this guy name Nabel who name means foolish. And boy was he foolish. Nabel had offended David greatly when David had done nothing to deserve it (read the entire account here). But David's reaction to Nabel's rudeness wasn't the best either: "And David said to his men, 'Every man strap on his sword!' And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword..." (1Sam. 25:13). David basically wanted vengeance on Nabel, and he was going to take it into his own hands by killing Nabel and his household. Abigail gets word of this and immediately packs up the largest picnic known to mankind, hops on a donkey, and rides out to meet David and his men. When she sees him she bows before the future king and speaks words of life, praying they would cover the words of death Nabel had spoken:
"...Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant." -1Samuel 25:28-31
David in turn blesses Abigail greatly and says...
"...Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male." -1Samuel 25:33&34
Abigail knew how to speak to the "king" in David. Abigail knew how to speak words of life into him (and I'd venture to imagine in all of her relationships). See, Abigail knew the power and value of humility.

Life giving words flow from a humble heart. 

So what does it mean to have humility then?
 
Humility Assumes the Best About a Person. In other words, a heart marked with humility "speaks to what they know the other person's heart is, not necessarily what their actions are" (Holly Furtick, paraphrased). Abigail knew that the cry of David's heart was to love and honor God, but she also knew that his anger toward Nebel was taking on the form of vengeance. She knew David's anger could get the better of him and would not have a positive outcome. But instead of "rebuking" him for his feelings and behavior, she speaks to his heart. She gently reminds him of his love for God, and asks him to consider if what he's about to do would honor God. Another example is that of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi, in her heart, loved God, but if you know her story, then you know that when we meet her she's harboring some bitterness towards him. Understandably so when we consider the circumstances and if you've ever gone through a time of bitterness yourself. Do we see Ruth critiquing and berating Naomi? Nope. Instead Ruth stays loyal to Naomi and cares for her. I think it's because Ruth knew the heart of Naomi, and she knew that this season of bitterness would pass in time. In both cases, Abigail and Ruth emptied themselves of pride. They both chose to focus on the hearts of David and Naomi. They assumed the best in David and Naomi.

Humility Nurtures Love. Where pride resides, love does not. Pride sucks out any and all love, but humility fosters it. 

Humility Allows You to Be Jesus, and God be God. Every once in a while when I'm babysitting siblings, a scenario like this one ensues: I'll say something like, "Alright you two, please put away your toys so we can go have a snack." Then one of the siblings starts pushing around the other and tattles to me about how their brother (or sister) isn't picking up their toys like I asked. But guess what... neither were they. The kid was too preoccupied with trying to control and boss around their sibling, that they too failed to pick up their own toys. My response then is to remind them that they're not to worry about whether or not their sibling did what I asked, that's my job, not theirs. Their job is to worry about picking up their own toys. You and I do this too. We try to be God in other people's lives by bossing them around, telling them what they should and shouldn't be doing, without examining ourselves first.
Humility is the nearly impossible task of being more concerned with our own sins that we are with the sins of others. ~Trevor Hammack
God didn't appoint you and I to be the sin police. There's no reward in heaven for doing the best job of "critiquing" others while on earth. God called you to be like Jesus to others. What did Jesus do?
  • Jesus extended grace. To extend grace means you give something to someone who doesn't deserve it. Christ has given you and I an exceeding amount of mercy, forgiveness, and grace. We have no right withholding that from others.  
  • Jesus overlooked offenses, and we should too: "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." (Prv. 19:11)
  • Jesus chucked the "score card" and keeps no record of wrongs. One of my all time favorite quotes from Corrie ten Boom says, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever ... Then God places a sign out there that says 'No Fishing Allowed!'" Neither you nor I have any business fishing for other people's sins.
  • Jesus spoke to the potential. Other than the death and resurrection of Jesus, my favorite story in the New Testament is that of the Samaritan Woman. Here she is, an outcast even among the outcasts, everyone has her labeled as the town slut, nobody gives a rip about this woman. But Jesus does. Jesus knows who she is: a treasure. A daughter of the most high God. Had she been lied to and deceived? Yes, hence her lifestyle. But that doesn't make her any less a daughter of God. This is what Jesus reminders her of. He gently speaks to her heart and tells her that she is worshiping something that was never meant to fill her need for intimacy, but that true intimacy is found in worshiping the Creator. He's fully aware of her sin, but he chooses to draw more attention to her potential. Every one of God's children has amazing potential in His hands, despite their past. He shows her there's a better way. And the crazy thing, out of all the people He could have told, He tells this woman that He is indeed the long expected Messiah. Are you speaking to other people's potential? Are you directing their gaze to their sin, shame, and past, or redirecting their gaze to Christ?
You and I are called to be the hands and feet of Christ to others, not to usurp God and try to "lord" over others. You be Jesus to everyone, and let God be God. It's then we're free to love and pour into others.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved... humility... -Colossians 3:12

4 comments :

  1. What a great perspective on humility! It's so much easier to simply point out a fault in someone else rather than take a good hard look at our own. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be reading this post again...so much good stuff!

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  2. natalie this is SO GOOD! probably the best teaching on humility i have ever heard/read... thanks for sharing!

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