WISDOM AND HUMILITY CARRY THE DAY

As adults, when we are asked a question, our most frequent response is to give an answer – usually with our chest puffed out just a bit and our head held a little bit higher.  We have been asked to pontificate and show our intelligence as we provide the individual standing before us with the information desired.

However, the wise response is to investigate the issue and then give an answer. Whether it is in the realm of the law, medicine, or any other discipline, the ability to identify the issue and then know where to look to find the answer is supremely better than just rattling off an answer based on what you recalled from yesterday, last month, or last year.  Indeed, knowledge is important, but wisdom is far better.

Scripture has much to say about the know-it-all and wisdom. 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Psalm 111:10

Taylor school
A college education may indicate learning, but real knowledge comes from reverent fear of the Lord.  Praise God for Christian universities such as Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, that provide a quality education while fostering Christian growth in their students as well.

A college education may indicate learning, but real knowledge comes from reverent fear of the Lord.  Praise God for Christian universities such as Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, that provide a quality education while fostering Christian growth in their students as well.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

And he said to man, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom and to turn away from evil is understanding.”

Job 28:28

What is the “fear of the Lord”?  The answer to that requires more space than as a footnote to this post.  But, suffice it to say at this juncture, the following excerpt from “What Does it Mean to Fear God?,” an article posted October 22, 2016 by Dr. R. C. Sproul in the Ligonier Blog gives us some guidance when thinking of the fear of God as noted in the Wisdom Literature of scripture:

The focus here is on a sense of awe and respect for the majesty of God. That’s often lacking in contemporary evangelical Christianity. We get very flippant and cavalier with God, as if we had a casual relationship with the Father. We are invited to call Him Abba, Father, and to have the personal intimacy promised to us, but still we’re not to be flippant with God. We’re always to maintain a healthy respect and adoration for Him.

So, we know the source of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  Where does humility come into the picture?

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,…

Colossians 3:12

So, what is humility?   Someone named Anonymous said “Humility is a strange thing – the moment you think you’ve got it, you lose it.”  

C. S. Lewis says that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” In other words, it is the quality of “self-forgetfulness”.  Rather than, “Me first,” humility allows us to say, “No, you first, my friend.” 

This does not mean that we must be passive followers; humility does not require that we lose our voice or that we cannot lead.  In Numbers 12:3 we read the following about Moses, the man who told Pharaoh to let God’s people go, the man who led the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, the man who spoke directly with God and who received the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone:

“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  (NIV)

Moses was humble and he didn’t seek his own welfare when attacked by his family.  God stood up for him when he was attacked by his siblings.  Read the rest of Numbers 12 to see the conflict between Moses and his brother and sister over Moses’ Cushite wife. What happened to them is priceless; but, if I may cut to the chase, I would simply summarize the story as  – spoiler alert — 

Humility Wins!

Of course this, too, is consistent with scripture.  See, for example, Psalm 147:5-6 where we read:

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. (NIV)

In the Lord’s calculus, wisdom comes from Him and man’s humility trumps man’s pride every time. 

Father, thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice that cleanses us from our sin and that results in life everlasting for the believer in Him.  Thank You that we can come to You, acknowledging our lack of understanding, and that You will lead us and teach us in the way of righteousness. Grant me humility and enable me to see when I am acting in disregard of that quality.  Then give me the grace to repent and return to Your side. 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 21,GENTLENESS – HUMILITY SHOWN IN MEEKNESS

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 21

 GENTLENESS – HUMILITY SHOWN IN MEEKNESS

PART ONE

Gentleness, also known as humility, is a subject about which the world has a good bit to say but most of it is not from the Christian’s world view.

 

Consider the song “It’s hard to be humble” … I will quote some cleaned up lyrics for you if you don’t know this song from the late 70s.

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me
I must be a heck of a man.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
but I’m doing the best that I can.

C. S. Lewis says that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. And someone aptly said that “Humility is a strange thing – the moment you think you’ve got it, you lose it.”

 

What does Scripture say?

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:22-23.

 

In Scripture, the Greek word for gentleness (humility) is Prautas.  It is the quality of “self-forgetfulness”.  Rather than, “Me first,” humility allows us to say, “No, you first, my friend.”  This is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others.

 

Its opposite is aggressiveness, arrogance, and boastfulness and the world’s counterfeit is inferiority; being self-absorbed and self-consciousness.

 

When we think of gentleness or humility, we sometimes think of meekness which sounds like weakness … picturing someone who is rather milque-toast in nature.  However, that is not at all the scriptural view of either meekness or humility.

 

Meekness is the strength to refrain from taking part in a fight that you know you could win, or from making a point about which there could be no question, in order to prevent the damage that otherwise would be done.

 

Consider Moses the “in charge” leader bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. In Numbers 12, God stood by him when Aaron and Miriam grumbled about his marriage to a Cushite woman, God calling them aside and saying:

 

“Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.   Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”  (NIV)

 

After this, the Lord struck Miriam with leprosy and Aaron pleaded with Moses to seek God for healing for their sister.  Moses didn’t respond that Aaron and Miriam deserved what they got and he did not have an “I’m more important than you” attitude.  Instead, he pleaded with God on Miriam’s behalf and God healed her after 7 days.

 

Clearly Moses had access to the ear of the Lord.  He was powerful and knew that God stood by him.  But the verse that is most telling about Moses comes before this story … it is Numbers 12:3 which says:

 

“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  (NIV)

 

Moses was humble –he was meek – he was gentle – and God stood up for him when he was attacked by his siblings.   See Psalm 147:5-6:

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. (NIV)

 

Remember that the whole point of the Fruit of the Spirit is to conform us to the image of Jesus.  Therefore, we need to consider how Jesus responded to situations.

 

In Matthew 11:20 we read that Jesus was “humble in heart” (Matt 11:29).   In other words, Jesus was conscientiously following the Father’s plan for his earthly life rather than his own earthly desires.  This is consistent with his prayer in the Garden found in Luke 22:42:

 

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

 

Humility as a virtue is a major theme of both the Old and New Testaments for a number of reasons.

 

First, with respect to our vertical relationship between God and man, humility goes hand in hand with obedience.  The one who is humble will follow God’s direction and will honor the plan that God has for his life.

 

Second, with respect to our horizontal relationship with our fellow creatures in this world, a demeanor of humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony with all persons. Humility allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God’s people.

It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Proverbs 16:19

How does this apply to my daily life?

Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self-worth.  Theologian J. I. Packer says:

“Humility in Scripture means, not pretending to be worthless and refusing positions of responsibility, but knowing and keeping the place God has appointed for one. Being humble is a matter of holding on to God’s arrangement, whether it means the high exposure of leadership or the obscurity of subservience.”

 

In other words, humility affirms the inherent worth of all persons. We should exhibit a humble attitude whether we are the president or the janitor.  Our title or position does not matter – humility is expected if we are to grow in Christ Jesus.

 

The humble person has proper deference toward both God and others.   Our humility rests on a sense of our own comparative lack of value and honor in relation to God and to others.  Paul implies this rule when he says in Romans 12:3 that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.

 

The humble woman will refuse to glory in any good that she has or does but rather will give all glory to God.

 

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and thy truth’s sake”

Psalm 115:1

 

This week, look for times when you can exhibit a gentle, humble spirit towards others.  Imitate Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let this fruit grow in your heart, mind, soul and life!

 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, GOODNESS part two

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 18

 GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD

PART TWO

 God’s goodness is expressed in the very first reference to God in Scripture.  In Genesis 1 we read of the creation done by God simply at the power of His words. 

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  An God saw that the light was good.

 

Genesis 1:3-4.   This continued through creation and then, in verses 26-27, 31 we read: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

 

Have you ever worked hard to create something and then looked at it and saw the imperfections, the mistakes, the “oops” that no one else would see, and then say to yourself, “it’s nice” or “it’s fairly good” or “not bad for a first attempt”. 

 

That’s not what happened in Genesis 1 – God created the world and all there is in it and when the Triune God was done on the sixth day, He looked at his completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and it included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him.  God is Good and we were created in His image. 

 

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!  In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 31:19-20

 

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

 

  • God’s goodness is shown in His long-suffering, forbearance and slowness to anger that continues toward persons who have persisted in sinning.

 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

Exodus 34:6

 

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 

Psalm 78:38

 

Theologian J. I. Packer says that the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

  • God’s goodness includes His glorious kindness and generosity that touches all His creatures.

 

In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer calls Psalm 107 the classical exposition of God’s goodness.  The psalmist begins with the call to give thanks for God’s goodness. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.  Vs. 1-2

 

The psalmist then identifies four problems from which God has given aid to Israel. 

  1. God redeems those who are helpless from their enemies;
  2. God delivers from “darkness and the shadow of death” – Hallelujah –notably reference in the text is even made that this was brought about because of the people’s rebellion against God and yet he delivered anyway;
  3. God provided healing for diseases that He had brought upon the people to discipline the “fools” who disregarded him; and
  4. God protected those who traveled by sea when storms arose that would have sunk their ship but He intervened and stilled the storm.

 

Looking at the psalm, each of these situations and rescues concludes with the same refrain: 

“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” 

 

Psalm 107 is not the only place where we are told to sing God’s praises for His goodness in creation and the history of His people. 

 

In Psalm 136 we find verses that sing of God’s goodness with each verse ending with the refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever.”   Verse 1 begins the psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” and the last verse commands that we “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 

So we know God is Good … and we know that we are not good apart from Jesus.  So, what are we to do?

 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: 

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

 

We are to do works that are good so that we give glory to God.  We reflect His glory and tell of His goodness when we magnify His great name before others.  That is our purpose in goodness before men. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

So, what good works do we do?  How do we let our light shine before men?  How do we give glory to God?

 

There are multitudes of ways that we can perform good works through the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus Christ to us.  Here, however, we will be looking at 1) generosity and 2) appreciation of excellence and beauty. 

 

  • Regarding Generosity —

 

Our doing good freely should be done liberally and bountifully.  We are not to be skimpy givers, but we are to be open-hearted and open-handed.  See 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11.   In verse 6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly; and conversely, if they sow bountifully, they will reap bountifully. 

 

We will have a desire for the good will of others.   This is an imitation of the love and grace of God and of the love of Christ which desires the good of men.  See Luke 2:14.

 

We show our willingness to do good to other simply by doing it!  Where there is power to act, the act will always follow the will.  Scripture speaks of doing good as the evidence of love.    I John 3: 18-19.  

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  Hereby we know that we are of the truth.” 

 

We will seek opportunity to do good to the soul and body of others.  Our benevolence should be universal, constant, free, habitual and according to our opportunities and ability, as we follow the commands of God.  To freely do good to others is to do to them as we would have them do to us, that is the enactment of “the Golden Rule.”  To freely do good to others encourages us to remember how kind God and Christ have been to us and how much we have received from them, every moment of every day. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

 

  • Regarding appreciation of what is good, true and beautiful:

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says “One thing that comes with the fruit of goodness is a new appreciation for what is good, true and beautiful.”

 

We have already spoken of God’s beautiful creation. In Exodus 28:2 God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments:

 

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.

 

Note that Aaron’s garments were to reflect God’s glory and beauty!  We know the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were pinnacles of beauty and the directions for their building did not come from designers or architects but directly from God. 

 

Another example of the appreciation of beauty as coming from the Goodness of our Creator God is the work of the composer Johan Sebastian Bach. 

 

Bach composed his music as an apologetic for the existence of God.  Pointing to the order of creation and the beauty therein, Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the period known as the Enlightenment, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and there was no need for God anymore.  Although born in 1685 and living only until 1750, Bach’s witness for God is far from silent in our own day!

 

 Bach himself said:

 

“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” 

 

Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth.  It wasn’t to make lots of money or to feed the musician’s ego or to be famous.  Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others.

Listen to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” as composed by J. S. Bach and as performed by the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.

 

 

But Bach’s music goes far beyond merely reflecting God’s orderly creation – it contains the message of the Gospel when used by the Holy Spirit. 

C. S. Lewis opined that the world does not need more Christian literature – it needs more Christians writing good literature or more Christians composing good works of music or of art. When we produce art that is good; art that reflects a biblical world view, its richness will endure through the ages.

 

Does your experience with the Fruit of the Spirit of Goodness give you a new appreciation for the good, true and beautiful?

 

God is Good

 

  • His goodness underlies his love, his redemptive acts and his securing of our eternal blessings.
  • His goodness is evidenced in creation, and in truth and all things beautiful.
  • May we give our best to the Lord and may we do good for Him, whether it be in acts of benevolence for others or in writing or composing … whatever we do, may it be to the Glory of God for He alone is Good and his Goodness extends to all generations.

 

Take some time this week to listen to some beautiful music or look at some beautiful scenery and let your Spirit soar as you glorify your God in meditation.  Do some good act of benevolence for someone anonymously and let the Spirit work His will in both the recipient and you, the giver. Daily, praise the Lord, for He is Good.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.