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Oh Lord, It’s Hard to Be Humble

One moment I stood confidently before my high school choir, a student conductor, all eyes trained on me as I led rehearsal. We struggled with a particular piece, so to lighten the mood I stepped my high- heeled boots up onto a wobbly, prop stool we used for a stage production. In a blink, I toppled backwards, landing on my back, all eyes watching.  It was 1970 something and mini-skirts ruled the school and my closet. Sure could have used one our church’s modesty prayer cloths that day.   ( See previous post.)

God uses funny circumstances in my life to cultivate more humility. Sometimes I careen through life too quickly, without thought. He uses those opportunities to take me to character school.  Listen, He’ll use any means necessary to grow high-value traits in us.

Another “teachable moment” occurred with a fashion trend called the broom skirt, (which looked attractive on no one).  It involved yards of lightweight fabric arranged in messy pleats. We had a brief love affair.  One Sunday morning, me and my skirt ran late for my pre-service restroom visit.  I hustled my cookies down a side aisle, from the rear of the sanctuary to the platform in the front, just as the music intro started.  As I flew past the instrumentalists, right before I strode onto the platform, I felt someone grab my skirt, hard, from the back, as I passed. I knew immediately that the entire back of it had been tucked up into my pantyhose, most likely observed by everyone sitting near the aisle when I raced by.  No one ever spoke about the incident to me, but I am profoundly grateful someone saved me from taking my wardrobe malfunction onto the platform at least.

In our family, we say this about pride:  You can choose to humble yourself before God, or He can just cut your knees out from under you.  Man, I hate that feeling of realizing I’ve been casual towards humility and God intervenes. Ugh.

The book of James talks so much about behavior issues it leads me to believe that these folks were quite a handful.  Like me.  In chapter 3 verse 13 he talks about moving through life with a humility which flows from wisdom.  He then describes “heavenly wisdom,” in great detail a few verses later. We’ll ponder the wisdom portion in the next post, but today I am struck by the link between humility and wisdom.

How does God view pride?  I thought this nifty chart might demonstrate the answer.

  Actions Natural Consequences and God’s response
Satan The original arrogant fool actually thought he could overthrow God? Tossed from heaven, doomed to eternal damnation
Joseph This arrogant dreamer should have been working in the fields with his brothers not visiting them.  Clueless, to imagine that his brothers were going to love his dream about them. Slavery, false accusations, prison, separation from his entire family. Yes, God used all this for great goodness but don’t assume that it would have all gone this way if Joseph had been a humble young man.
Nebuchadnezzar Even with the profoundly wise and humble Daniel at his right hand, this prideful king refused to acknowledge the sovereign God. The Word says it best: “He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Dan. 4:33
Ahab and Jezebel They thought they could get away with mass murder of God’s prophets, murdering Naboth then stealing his property, PLUS leading the entire nation into idolatry. Ahab slaughtered in battle.

Jezebel tossed from a window, trampled by horses, eaten by dogs.

Pharaoh What kind of crazy arrogance would allow his nation to be decimated down to the deaths of all the first born and STILL not acknowledge God’s power? His kingdom left with no crops or drinkable water, a decimated, sickly and injured population, while he drowns (according to Psalm 136:15) with his army in the Red Sea.
King Saul This guy, who God exalted out of nowhere, got way ahead of himself, offering wrong sacrifices, consulting a witch and trying to murder God’s anointed, David. Dies a slow, excruciating death in battle, with his sons, including Jonathan, David’s best friend.

 

This chart could be several pages long to include the many arrogant kings of Israel and Judah, the Pharisees, Peter and so, so many others.

To say it simply, pride is the height of stupidity and completely incompatible with wisdom.  Pride will take you just so far then it will surely drop you on your head.

These days, when circumstances humble me, I recognize an opportunity to burn more of that old nature, that will try to assert its agenda until I die. Recognize when God is gently humbling you. These can be useful moments to recognize pride, with all its different masks, hiding somewhere in your character.  I fervently desire to be like Jesus who, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself and became obedient to death.” (Phipp. 2:7,8)

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