HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Celebrations of meaningful life events is common in our culture, and I expect in many cultures that differ from ours in various respects.  We celebrate events that are exciting, which are blessings to us, which have consequences and expectations that reach far into the future.  Consider birthday parties, for example. 

Birthday party and balloons (C)
Birthday balloons 

Being the intrepid dog lovers that we are, we even celebrate the birthday of our canine family members.  Here is a party when our beloved Goldie, a retired racing greyhound, was the Birthday Princess and, standing next to her, was her sister, Sweetie, wearing a snazzy party hat.

Doggie party

Today is the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to my husband, Bill.  It is a date that we celebrate because of the love we have for each other and because November 27, 1986 marked a wonderful change in our lives, and in the lives of our children.  Both of us had been married previously so the marriage was between us as husband and wife as well as between us as parents of the children.  (We avoid the step-child/step-parent designation.  We both share in the children as if they were our own to the best extent possible.)

We thank God every day for the love that He has given to us in the form of our spouse.  And we thank God that He is part of our marriage. 

Triangle for marriage illustration

We often praise God for when we draw closer to each other, we are closer to God as well.  And, when we are closer to God through worship, our Bible reading, study, and fellowship with others, we are drawn closer to our Christian marriage partner.

We are in the midst of the “holiday season” in which we celebrated Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S., at least).  As a matter of note, we were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1986, signifying our thanks to the Lord for His hand in bringing us together.   Now that we have finished the Thanksgiving turkey, we turn our attention to the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas Day. 

The heavenly host celebrated Jesus’ birth with their choir anthem to the shepherds.  The magi celebrated in worship when they delivered their gifts to Him.  But there is no directive that we are to celebrate His birth.

We remember events that may not be exciting or happy but are events which mark a change in our life or future.  Consider the remembrance of major surgery, or the marking of the date that a parent or spouse died.  These remembrances are not usually considered celebrations in the party-like sense, but they are things that we recall because of the effect that they had on our lives.

There is such an event described in Scripture.  Indeed, it is something that the Lord expressly directed His disciples to do, to celebrate, to remember.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”

Luke 22:19-20

Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with His disciples the night he was betrayed into the hands of the soldiers. He knew what was immediately ahead of Him, what suffering and humiliation He was going to endure.  He knew that the disciples would abandon Him and that He would be scorned, beaten and crucified.  He also knew that He was innocent of any wrong-doing.  He had lived a perfect life (which  we cannot live) and He was going to die a hideous death (a death that we deserved because of our sins).  He was going to die so we could live. 

That is a celebration that we have every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Beloved, celebrate the wondrous things in your life – anniversaries, birthdays, births, weddings, and the list goes one.  Remember the difficult times in your life – deaths, illnesses, divorce, and the list goes on.

Above all, celebrate and remember what the Savior has done for you, no matter if everything is bright and rosy in your world or if everything is dull and gray.  The Savior has given you life, abundant life now and eternal life hereafter, if you believe in His name and claim Him as your Savior.  Honor Him and remember His sacrifice for you. 

Listen as the hymn “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” is presented on the album Hymns in the Vineyard by Vineyard Music.

Keep your eyes upon Jesus, and He will be near you no matter what this world throws at you.  Celebrate His presence and you will find His peace even in times of hardship and difficulty.

Father, thank You for bringing us together in marriage, and thank You for being with us through various trials, surgeries, and difficulties that the past 32 years have brought.  Thank You too for Your gracious loving hand on the family and on each of the children and grandchildren, for which we praise Your Holy Name.  I pray that these words would be of encouragement and that You would be glorified.

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.