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Starting with this post, I’m also offering a new feature on my website of additional material on the same topic as the blog. This week’s resource is a downloadable file with four days of short devotions on the topic of humility. I’ve attached Day One at the bottom of this post, for you to sample. On the website, look for the heading “Wisdom Challenge Resources.” I also linked it here.
I think a lot of stuff is left undone in the kingdom of God because of false humility. We God-followers know that pride is a fast ticket to God’s displeasure. Most of us have taken some large tumbles because of pride. In our zealousness to avoid any of THAT we can fall into a fake humility. It’s easy to do. We are so concerned about coming across as arrogant, we swing our pendulum hard in the opposite direction.
My husband, Ken, and I, sometimes hear a counterfeit humble when we invite lay people to become engaged in ministry. Some just don’t want the work, but others are legitimately fearful of to do something in the church for which they are obviously well equipped. They think they aren’t spiritually mature enough or they’ve not had a long enough tenure at a church, or something.
“Oh, I’m not sure I’m qualified to teach in kid’s church.” This from a seasoned public-school teacher.
“But I’m a lot younger than the other deacons.” This from a man who’s been running his own multi-million-dollar business for a decade.
I’m landing on Proverbs 25:6-7 today because I’ve only ever heard the front end of this proverb in teachings or sermons about pride.
“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.”
We want to avoid the embarrassment of advancing ourselves in such a way that we must be told to step back or step down. Recently, my family attended a funeral for a friend at a church in another town. The luncheon volunteers from the church forgot to place any reserved signs on tables for the deceased’s family members. In our church it’s always the tables closest to the buffet.
My family arrived in the church’s fellowship hall and set up camp at a table close to the door but not close to the food. We grabbed waters and appetizers and watched the room fill with hungry mourners. The family entered. The pastor’s eyes fell on my family and he hurried over to announce that we were sitting at the “wrong” table and had to move immediately. We unknowingly sat at a table normally reserved. By this time, the room was filled with only one table open at the opposite end. My family trod a long walk of shame, balancing our coats, plates, and water glasses through the crowd. Awkward in a dozen different ways.
These are the scenarios we want to avoid because few of us are knowingly prideful. We don’t care to be put down in an area where we weren’t trying to step up. The problem is, we drift into false humility where we are motivated by fear, not faith.
If we take that kid’s church position, we fear people will think we think we are Susie spiritual.
If we agree to be on the deacon or elder ballot at a young age, we fear folks will think we are arrogant.
Some might. Tough nougats. Look at the second half of the Proverb, “…for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower…” There will be numerous times in our lives when God’s invitation comes to us through the voice of another. “Come up here.” Come lead this. Come serve here. Come take this position. Sometimes it’s only the voice of Holy Spirit.
God knows the gifts, skills and experiences he’s planted in us. He will stir up recognition of those things in other’s hearts so that they offer us the opportunities to “Come up here.” When we are so fearful of looking like an arrogant lout that we react with false humility, we squirrel up God’s ability to use us. Somewhere inside, the best part of us knows that we are equipped but Satan has twisted our thinking so that we believe it’s prideful to acknowledge God’s deposits within ourselves. Stop it.
I started writing only a few short years ago and joined a writing group at the same time. What a different world from those where I had previously achieved many successes like music, drama, and teaching. I didn’t journal when I was kid. I didn’t always feel like I had to write things down. I never dreamed of publishing a book. Yet, God grafted a writing branch into my life, late in life, and commanded me to start using it. I wanted to listen and learn from those who were experienced in the mores of this new world.
Many in the group are lifelong writers. Several are published. Several will be published soon. When I joined, all I had was my little blog.
A couple months ago our leader let me know that she believed God was asking her to step down. Would I consider taking the leadership role? My mouth honestly dropped open as I read the e-mail. False humility started to step to the front of my brain and write a “Thanks, but I’m not the right person for this,” response. God stopped me.
He pointed at my strong leadership gifts developed by leading many different types of groups. He reminded me that I’ve led other worlds of creatives successfully many times. He asked me to acknowledge the spiritual maturity and seasoning he’s grown in me which enables me to lovingly reign creatives in when they wander down too many bunny trails. Then he laughingly pointed out that my lack of experience and publishing successes would certainly keep me humble in the position. I accepted and have completely enjoyed leading this remarkable group of writers for the last few weeks.
Had God asked you to “Come up here,” somewhere in your life? Did you say “Yes, here am I, use me Lord,” or did you decline? If that door is still open, then humble yourself and see if you can still take the position. If it’s not, I encourage you to repent of false humility (as I’ve done many times) and prepare yourself for the next invitation to “Come up here.” The Great Awakening is rolling towards us faster every day. I assure you many invitations will be going out from God to his people. Please don’t turn yours down. The world needs you in your God-ordained place.
Sample from Devotional: “Humility is the Path Up in God’s Kingdom”
Scripture: “So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life,” Genesis 45:4-5 ESV.
A true test of humility is how we treat people who have wronged us when we are given the opportunity. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was illegal, immoral and exceptionally cruel to their father, Jacob. Joseph had every right to sentence them to prison or death in his new position as Egypt’s prime minister. He didn’t. Joseph spent his years in captivity learned to humble himself before others through many forms of degradation, but our verse shows us that he learned something equally important during that time. He learned how to humble himself under God’s mighty, sovereign hand. God may use wicked people to accomplish his purposes in our lives. He may allow them to manhandle us in cruel fashion. What happens in our character during those hard times will be revealed when we are given opportunity to retaliate or when our tormentors no longer have any authority over us. True humility begins with a reverential fear of God and complete submission to his plans for us.