Posts Tagged With: Humility

Beatitudes & Humble Pie

A Series on Humility

(Lord willing)

humble

 

Coming to Christ first requires humility: we must acknowledge our need for someone else to save us. But then, each virtue of righteousness, all of the characteristics of a godly life require increasingly greater humility. A problem presents itself, however, for it seems the more we try to be humble, the more prideful we become. What we seek is a humble, servant mindset which Jesus demostrated so poignantly.

 

“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

My assertion is that absolute dependence on God is the only means to successfully obtain any degree of humility. Focusing on Christ: the paragon of all heavenly virtue, self is progressively swallowed up by His glory as we become one with Him. By comparing ourselves vertically to God, we depart from the horizontal and skewed comparison of ourselves to each other, opening a clear view to our personal inadequacies—our need for continuing grace.

 

I’ve discovered a hazardous pitfall in my own walk—one that’s difficult to detect. It’s called false humility. Something I’d done in te past , which, I thought was making me humble, was self-deprecation. I’d put myself down, or launch a bad spin on my actions, talking about the bad stuff I’ve done. But it only produces a false humility—not at all conducive to eliminating a hunger to be noted. While I thought it would be destructive to my pride, it only fed my ego. If we’re honest, we’ll see it’s the same for all of us. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the subject, and found that nearly every great thinker down through history has percieved the importance of this trait and written on the topic of humility.

 

 Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis

 

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

Ralph Emerson Palmer

 

Bryant H. McGill is more stoic, stating “True love is quiescent, except in the nascent moments of true humility”

 

Only by emulating the love of God do we transform into humble servants, which in turn elevates our eternal ranking.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1st Peter 5:6

 

The assorted virtues of Christ-likeness expounded by Jesus in His great manifesto on the mount are all rooted in, and dependent upon a prior condition of humility. Assuming we all agree that the antithesis of humility is pride, we can easily recognize pride to be the primary, or root sin which so deceives mankind in its many forms. Pride hinders our growth in Christ-likeness.

It’s the #1 sin—not merely the first sin perpetrated chronologically, but also the sin which underlies all others. Pride and humility can never coexist in the same arena, that’s why Satan promotes pride in mankind. He knows it to be the root from which springs every form of ungodliness.

 

“Let us carry ourselves as God’s children in humility. ‘Be ye clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). It is a becoming garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground.” Puritan, Thomas Watson

 

Each week I hope to spotlight one heavenly virtue from Matthew 5: 3-10, demonstrating how every righteous trait flows from, and is anchored in, humility.

 

This is one trait that appears to act as a huingepin for developing the godly traits Jesus talks about.

Since humility is the condition of heart and mind every soul must possess, if they hope to approach God and be reconciled to Him through trusting faith, learning to lean on this virtue becomes paramount.

In chronicling the characteristics of citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus seems to demand we presuppose humility as a type of key to all of them. Certainly, if I am to become “poor in spirit” I must first humble myself. Note how essential humility is in becoming what Christ calls us to be.

It will be fruitful for us to disseminate the precondition of humility that’s common to each of the virtues Christ provides. I’ll do so by first defining each characteristic Jesus extols, then by considering examples in the context of current culture, and finally view the whole matter in relationship to ourselves as individuals—making personal application to our hearts.

 

Bring your bibles and join us for the next post as we look at the first virtue found in Matthew 5:3. Please click on notifications and watch for “Poor in Spirit.” 

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Jesus, new nature, Sanctification, Theology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Ending Journey

On this spiritual journey of faith in Christ Jesus, it is often difficult to locate mile markers to know how far we’ve come. But looking back over the past several years, it’s exciting to see the obstacles to our goals that have been overcome.

trail

For instance, on my journey of becoming more like Jesus, I can see myself forgiving others just a bit more easily than I did a couple years ago, and that’s very encouraging to me. This process of sanctification, or being made holy will not be complete for any of us until Jesus returns.

 

When others, who don’t want me to achieve anything at all, show their evil contempt by their actions and treatment of me, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as easily it used to. Of course, I still have a very long way to go. But I cannot take any of the credit for my growth, not at all. Every good change that has taken place in my character has been done by God, simply because I asked Him to help me. He’s given us who are saved His Holy Spirit to help us along on this arduous trek —all the way home.

 

As I pondered the specific things that I’ve learned along the way, and things God has led me to do, so that I’d continue growing spiritually, several things became apparent. It became noteworthy that others just might be helped if I were to share some of what God has led me to do. That’s why I’ve put together some bullet points as an easy to use checklist each day—simple. though vital reminders that need to stay with us. It is my prayer that someone out there will be blessed by my sharing them.

 

 

Spiritual Health Tips

(A Bakers Dozen)

 

  1. Confront (face) the issues in your past that hurt you, with Christ as your Counselor—He is your healer, not time! If you don’t, your past can be very harmful to your future. 
  2. Ignore the naysayers and those who criticize you. Listen only to what God says about you. 
  3. Replace all negative thoughts that come into your mind with good, positive & constructive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Your happiness & satisfaction are found in Christ alone, so, don’t seek them anywhere else. Examples: finances, relationships, social status, etc. He will give you those too…when it’s time. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to understand the mission God assigned to you, and, be on guard against those who don’t want you to succeed—avoid them when possible. Rarely, but sometimes, you must act in order to be vindicated. (John 21:22)
  6. It’s your journey, but not yours alone: Jesus walks it with you. (Hebrews 13:5) 
  7. Encourage others who are on their journey with Christ, help them, walk beside them for a while. Offering your hand will strengthen both their walk of faith and your journey—be kind. (1 Thes. 5:11)
  8. It’s okay to not know everything—wise people always seek counsel and they ask many questions. (proverbs 15:22)
  9. Acknowledge your flaws, while working to overcome them in the strength God provides. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect except God. (Proverbs 16:18)
  10. Live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) 
  11. Never compare yourself to anyone on earth. Compare and measure yourself only by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29) 
  12. Humility is difficult to maintain & requires supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a key to great spiritual power. Secretly performing kind acts of service is a good exercise for developing humility. (Matthew 6:1)
  13. Smile, and don’t be so critical of yourself, Jesus loved you long before you even knew His name. (Psalm 143:8)

 

You already know the Christian disciplines of daily prayer and bible study, fellowship often with other Christians, and all the rest of them. Say a prayer for me as I continue my journey, and I’d be pleased to pray for you as well. Blessings.

 

P.S. We love you too. crop graceme

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How-to: Be Successful (Step One)

SUCCESS 1

Do you hope for tried and true steps to lasting success?

Which work for every worthy venture on planet earth?

You want it to be clear and easy to understand?

“What’s it going to cost me,” you ask?

Here’s the entire cost up front: A little of your time & attention, and a lot of effort. That’s all it costs.

If you are reading further, I suppose you’ve decided to invest a little time and attention. So let’s move on to our efforts.

  1. TRUST IN GOD
  2. Be Willing to Change
  3. Be Determined & Persevere

Step one: Defining Success.

 I have a certain friend who loved to flaunt what he felt was his success. He had more money than most anyone else in our circle of acquaintances. He had more material possessions, and he had a great deal of influence in the world. He also had lots of associates who held him in high esteem. The sad part, however, is that he was not/is not happy; in fact he suffers great depression. Recently, the Lord allowed his entire life to come unraveled. His wife left him, his dog actually died, and his business was in the toilet. God was vying for this man’s attentions, and trying to teach him what real success is all about.

“When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles, or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.”

Just as with my sad friend, most people today believe the definition of success that the world programs us to believe. We’ve heard it ever since we were toddling around in diapers. “You can do anything you want to do in life.” We are told “Just believe in yourself and try hard enough.” Here in America it is often billed as “The American Dream”. We’ve been taught things such as: “You can even be the President of the United States.” Or, “You can be the best.”

Right out of the starting gate we are programmed to think from an egocentric perspective: It’s all about me. But these notions are diametrically opposed to God’s outline of success for every individual on earth.

When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.

For Christians, even our identity is bound up in who and what Christ is. Our lives are centered on and around God (theocentric). Instead of struggling to be the best, where our efforts are zeroed in on ourselves, it’s all about Jesus. Our efforts are to serve Him, and to exalt Him in the best way we are able. We make Him the best instead of striving to make ourselves the best. Accordingly, when we do so, God elevates us to the best that we can be. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1st Peter 5:6
When we discipline ourselves to conform to God’s way of doing and thinking, He rewards us with success. But exactly what is God’s idea of success?

We will be offering God’s definition of success in increments, because success involves many things. It affects every area of our lives, including our finances, our station in life, our popularity, and more. We’ll discuss each of these in turn. But first let’s look at the most prominent characteristics of biblical success.

Success is taking the talents, skills and gifts that God has blessed us with, and putting them to work in a way that does the following.

  1. Trusts God
  2. Brings Glory to God
  3. Increases (Returns a Harvest)
  4. Keeps us Busy

This is not being the “Master of your own Destiny,” as we are taught by the world. Our destiny is in God’s hands, and we must trust Him enough to do things His way. In the Parable of the Talents (Mathew 25:14-30) Jesus indicates the criteria by which our lives as Christians will be measured.

In this teaching Jesus shows 3 servants, representing 3 children of God. There are three for a reason. The first two receive exactly the same rewards (verses 21 & 23). But they were given different amounts to work with. One had been given 5 talents to work with, and the next servant was given 2 talents to work with. The third servant received 1 talent to work with. The first man went to work with what his master had given him, five talents. He increased what he’d been given to double the amount. The second also put his 2 talents to work and doubled them. The one who produced 5 more talents received the exact same reward as the one who produced 2 more talents.

The third servant did nothing with his talent. He hid it in the ground until it was time for the Master to call upon all three of them to give an account of their labors. This is what each one of us must face: A day of reckoning, when we will be assessed for how well we used what God gave us to work with. It’s not the amount that is important. What we do with what we are given and how we use what we are given is what will be gauged. Jesus could have employed only two servants in his illustration, but he didn’t. He used three servants to show that just because one servant has more money, more talent, more skill or greater gifts, it makes no difference on the Lord’s measure of success. God’s expectation is the same for all of His servants and children. We are to use what we are given to the best of our ability for His glory and not our own.

Paul gives a good talk against the world’s egotistic and egocentric idea of success in 1st Corinthians 4. Look at verse 7: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

How can we boast about having something that somebody gave to us? That’s like the kid at school whose parents are rich. And he or she think they are better than the other kids because they have more money, better clothes and an expensive car that daddy bought for them.

Let’s not think for a moment we are throwing out the good advice of being a hard worker. This is essential if we hope for success. But God is the one who gave you your brain, and your ability to think. Do you have a good head for business? That’s great, but God is the one who gave it to you. Do you work hard? Excellent! But God is the one who gives you the strength to do so. Besides, working hard is simply doing your duty. God gave Adam work in the Garden of Eden as a blessing, to give him extra purpose, and responsibility, without which no one can be happy.

Success is also being happy and satisfied as we accomplish what God has assigned for each of us as individuals to do. While at the same time, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Now that, my friend, is step one for SUCCESS!

To be continued…

 

Categories: Faith, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Successful Christian Leaders

Upward Leaders in Christ

lead

Have you ever seen someone receive a promotion to a leadership position, then all of a sudden they get all wrapped up in their own greatness? Their head gets so big you wonder how they can remain standing upright without tipping over. It’s not a pretty sight. Sadly, they’ve sabotaged their own position. No one wants to follow a strutting peacock. At least not until they have learned to humble themselves and begin to view their position as responsibility rather than simply wielding authority.

Christian leadership is unique in that God has clearly laid out a plan for success. Operating under the lordship of Christ, Christian leaders can be assured of shining achievement. Looking to our perfect paradigm, Jesus’ life of humble obedience to the Father in combination with His service to mankind is the perfect pattern for servant-leadership. That means I need to do as Jesus did: Be a good follower. Only then can I be a more effective leader. In the realm of perfection one must be a good sheep if they are to be a good shepherd. We follow Jesus, our Chief shepherd. And, we learn to humbly follow our leaders here on earth. Leadership is the role of a good servant first, and leader second. Maintaining a servant mindset is essential if we hope to advance. God Himself will “lift us up”, as Apostle Peter writes. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

Humility is one of the most important character traits of a successful Spirit-led leader.

Our Shared Purposes, Objectives & Directives

When we seek to do God’s will we are issued wonderful purposes which undergird everything we do and say, and this helps us to correctly align our priorities. Our purposes are three fold.

  1. Bring glory to God/Christ Jesus. (Matt. 5:16)
  2. Build up, teach, and strengthen the faith of other believers (the church). “…Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1Corinthians 14:26b)
  3. Share the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus with nonbelievers. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) V

When we determine to perform God’s will, He leads us on to victory. God’s word establishes our objectives, giving us a cause for which we all together stand and promote. The Lord assigns our ultimate goals to accomplish, which will always bring glory to God instead of to the earthly leader. The Lord also provides the principles by which we operate. In other words, He gives us our means of how to get it done—our modus operandi.

By following Jesus closely we have access to constant guidance from God Himself, through His Holy Spirit residing in us. Wow—talk about having a great panel of advisers! Who better than Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

  • Great Christian leaders surround themselves with other good leaders who are sound counselors and advisers, and to whom they hold themselves accountable.
  • If we hope to be a great leader, it is imperative that we learn to take advice and weigh it well.

    WE NEED TO MASTER PARTICULAR ARTS

  • Listening to those who are under us within God’s structure of spiritual authority
  • Empathize with everyone
  • Communicate from reason rather than out of emotion
  • Rather than gaining followers, our goal is to help create more leaders. We advance by helping others to advance. This is an attitude.

History offers accounts of lots of guys who may have risen to the heights of success, but their morals and principles were not Christian and not of God. Adolf Hitler rose to great power as a leader and led many down a path of destruction. So we see that by using ungodly principles one can become a successful leader, at least by the world’s standards. However, it’s a short lived success. And can cost not only our soul, but the eternal lives of others as well. That’s the exact opposite of Jesus’ program for us.

GIFTS

Every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift or special ability to use for the cause of Christ. It is for the sole purpose of carrying out God’s plan here on earth. As that gift or talent is used, it increases, becomes better and more productive. Gifts are for use in edifying the body of Christ


“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. …if it is to lead, do it diligently…” (Romans 12:6,8 NIV)

Diligence is a prerequisite for every good leader. Christ represented the Father here on earth and He diligently carried out His will. Likewise, we represent Christ as His ambassadors on earth, and we must be diligent in carrying out the ministry He has entrusted to us. Lackadaisical leadership falls flat.

Pre-determined Goals

Three overshadowing goals for every Christian Leader:

  1. Bring glory to God
  2. Fulfill Jesus’ commission of sharing the gospel
  3. Build up fellow believers (edification).

 

“Effective Christian leaders are committed to advancing the mission in ways that also enable others to make their kingdom contribution”—Unknown

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV)

 

We have our preponderate goals from the Bible.

We have the counseling of God’s Holy Spirit.

We have our people advisers.

We have our special gifts to use (of which Paul urged Timothy to not neglect).

We have the great commission of Christ to go make disciples of all nations.

And we have the call to build others up, strengthening their faith, teaching them to observe all things Christ commands us while; encouraging, expounding knowledge, enabling, and edifying those who follow us.

We have everything we need.

All that remains is our diligence in carrying out our marching orders from God.

Full Steam Ahead!

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Follow the Spiritual Leader

A Post For Christian Leaders

For a Christian, it may be difficult to explain their words and actions to the world using the pure truth of the matter. It might sound a bit ego-driven. That’s because the redeemed are being transformed and conformed to be like the holy Son of God: Jesus.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Romans 8:29 NIV

In answer to accusing taunts from Jewish religious leaders who felt Jesus’ claims were pompous, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19b NIV

Christian souls seek to mirror the holy character of Jesus. They don’t simply ask, “What would Jesus do?” They strive with all of their being to do what He does. You may remember playing the game as a child: Follow the leader.

I never really liked the game, wanting to do my own thing, not what somebody else was doing. Being a small boy, I was often ignored, which left me feeling invisible. Then, one day in the fourth grade I was chosen to be the leader for the game, and I thought: That’s more like it—I’ll show them.

A dozen little pairs of legs trailed behind me, our steps quickening as we headed toward the playground. The swing set made a good obstacle course as we darted back and forth between swings, like trained dogs navigating cones on a course. Other obstacles followed, each one distancing me further from my feeble followers. There was the run across a big log, and then hurdling back and forth across a low fence. I was purposefully leaving my followers far behind. Sprinting, I flew towards my grand finale. Nobody knew that my usual playground was the forest, and that my light weight and natural strength made it easy to scurry up the big old Oak tree in the school yard. My classmates wondered if I had simply disappeared, until my taunting laughs resounded from the tree top.

Oh there was much I had to learn, if I was to ever become a servant-leader, like Jesus.

Though I did gain a couple admirers that day, for the most part I acted like an anti-social jerk. However, praise God, today I follow Jesus, and He is the greatest leader of all time. I am fairly fast, yet, it’s as nothing compared to Jesus soaring faster than the speed of light. Now, however, as we fly through life together, Jesus reduces His speed to soar at my pace. That’s what love does.

You and I follow Jesus. He knows the precise amount of difficulty each of us need in our challenges, so that we may continue growing through each stage of our spiritual development. God teaches us how to serve those who follow us. Jesus leads, while all together we navigate life’s obstacles. When you or I stumble, He is there to steady us. When we fall, He lifts us back up. Daily we practice His arts, gaining the skills of servant-leadership along the way.

I need to lead in the same manner the Son of God leads. If I’m way out front, up on an ivory pedestal, how can I help steady or lift up those who look to me for guidance?  I must come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. Besides, I’m not Jesus—I never know when, I too, may need a strong hand here on earth to steady me.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” I Peter 5:6 KJV

 

 

 

 

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