Posted by: Darrell Johnson | July 3, 2009

humility is more than…

“He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggresiveness, his ego-centered ambitions…his doctrinaire predjudices and ideas.”

-Thomas Merton

Without Christ…I am nothing. How’s that for an intro? It’s not peachy, nor is all warm-n-fuzzy, but it’s oh so true. By acknowledging this daily, maybe hourly, who knows…we are taking a proactive step to better understand our sin and in turn recognize the awesome freedom that is found in Christ Jesus. When we embark on a daily reminder of our own insignificance without the Lord, we are not being weak; really it’s not about us at all, rather we are professing that God is all-powerful. Such recognition is only the tip of the iceberg when worshiping a Holy God.

The above quote calls us to deepen in our own “self-understanding,” this is not to imply that all we need is to rely on our own understanding; instead Merton invites us to evaluate ourselves and become aware of where our hearts stand. We are challenged to examine our “capacity to love,” a capacity that is exemplified by the life of Christ and the Gospel message. If we fail to take time to examine our hearts daily and humble ourselves before the Lord, how then can we go about doing our Father’s business? What will be showing to those whom we’re called to serve? Also when we fail to humble ourselves daily, we permit our own doctrines and egos to motivate our daily motions rather than the simple fact that Jesus loves us and calls us to love the Lord first and then love others. A pretty simple concept, eh? Wait until we put into practice. I guess that’s why they call it practice. After all…

perfect, practice does not make.
it’s only a brief reflection of the love God has for us.
to practice love, is to seek out the perfect God.
to seek out God is to admit to our own imperfection.

So I’ve got a question for you, the reader. What motivates you to be humble?
(here are some thoughts from a 19th century minister and writer Andrew Murray)

“…although sin is a powerful motive for humility, there is a motive of still wider and mightier influence — that which makes the angels, that which made Jesus, that which makes the holiest of saints in heaven so humble. That is, that the first and chief mark of the relationship of man with God, the secret of His blessedness, is the humility and nothingness that leaves God free to be all.”

” I am the one that Jesus loves.” — These are the words that are highlighted in red letters on one our HOPE shirts for the summer. It’s a pretty simple, yet powerful truth. But do we accept it? I have to admit there are times when I can be so hard on myself because of my own sin that during the repentance process I make it all about me and come to terms that I am the one that Jesus loves. I’m not suggesting that we not acknowledge our sins, but I’m encouraging you (the reader) to not dwell on them so much that you miss out on the freedom that is found only in Christ. When I fail to take time to accept the fact that I am accepted and that Jesus loves just as I am and as I should be, because (to quote Brennan Manning), “we’re never gonna be as we should be;” I can easily make the Gospel about me…in my attempts to “fix” everything.

Truth be told I cannot fix someone’s addictions, nor can I assure people that hard times will cease. As a matter of fact Jesus tells us that we will surely endure hard times when we claim His name (see Luke 21:14-19). There is a grand “mystery” to Christ and how He works (Col. 1:27), we cannot put him in any theological box or summarize the Lord’s holiness and sovereignty by means of doctrinal acronyms or creeds; instead we must humble ourselves daily before a Holy God and confess that we don’t have it all figured out. 1 Peter 5:5 suggests that we “clothe” ourselves in humility, “for God opposes the proud” but gives grace to the humble.” Again we need to recognize, as servants, that our salvation and the salvation of those we witness to coincides with the example of love and humility that only Jesus could show.

“Salvation is union with, delight and participation in, the humility of Jesus. Is it any wonder that our faith is so feeble when pride still reigns so much, and we have hardly learned to long or pray for humility as the most necessary and blessed part of salvation?”
-Andrew Murray

Humility is more than a noble pursuit, it’s a way of life one that was exemplified by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection; humility coincides with our salvation. When we humble ourselves before a Holy God, we are further embracing His unchanging Love and amazing Grace, we are admitting to victory found in Jesus and only in Him. Here lately I’ve been struggling with what the future may bring and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Lord will provide and that I shouldn’t be so concerned with things that are beyond my control. So it is my prayer that we, as servants of Christ, strive to be humble and to embrace all that God has to offer us. Please keep Jeff Street in your prayers and pray for the work that is being done here in the name of Jesus and that the Lord will be glorified in all that we do. Pray for safety and peace amongst the day shelter guests and those who are out on the streets with nowhere, at least on this earth, to call home.

OH LORD, guide us.

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