Nothing in recent history has humbled the world like this tiny microscopic virus called COVID19. Powerful countries around the globe have been brought to their knees, their economies devastated, their people frightened and alone as this virus spreads. World Leaders resigned now to the fact that all their military might is no match, all their counter-intelligence and international clout meaningless in the face of this unseen enemy. Yes, COVID19 has humbled us. It has shown us just how vulnerable and defenseless human beings can be. But this can also be a good thing. For it has plainly shown us how little mankind is in control and how much we need God. The humility spoken about here is a change of heart…of turning from evil and seeking the face of God in true repentance…and seeing our land healed.
As Believers, we all want to do the right thing…to use practical wisdom and our moral compass to seek out God’s ultimate plan and purpose for our life. So how can we stay the course? I Corinthians 15:33 gives us the best advise – “Bad company corrupts good character.” For it’s very hard to remain humble and unpretentious in spirit when you only hang around with people that are arrogant, haughty, and vain. You may think you’re not being affected by their proud disposition…but more is rubbing off than you think.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
Jesus wasn’t cocky or arrogant. Nor was He condescending, even though He had every right to act in this manner. Just imagine, God came down from heaven and willingly became nothing. He humbled Himself to the lowest of social status…a slave or servant, as an example for us to follow. Servant-hood is probably one of the hardest things to do and do well. Our selfish human nature would rather be waited on, rather than wait on others. And the whole humility and obedience thing is in direct contradiction with everything the world tells us to do. But it all starts with our attitude as the verse says. For we can bring under submission our bad attitudes and then take on the role of servant for His glory. We can extend His grace and mercy with genuine love and concern if we become humble and obedient… with Jesus as our guide.
As Believers, we all go through times that we wonder if we’re hearing God correctly. Maybe it’s times when He seems far away…or we feel we’re in a dry place in our walk with Him. That’s when this verse and Romans 8:28 needs to be before us. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The Lord uses our gifts, talents, and passions throughout our Christian life to bring edification to others…and just because we don’t “feel it” doesn’t mean we’re still not being used of Him. We’ll all go through seasons of our life when our gift mix may wax and wane…certain ones coming to the forefront, while others seemingly retreat…but our gifts will always remain the same. The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 110:4 when he said, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind.” For He is the God of the past, present and future…and He will not recall what He has already given, and His ultimate plan and purpose for our life will prevail.
In this very well-known and often quoted Scripture, we like to gloss over the first part and instead focus on the end…the promised things God will do for us. But in doing so, we miss two small but very important words contained in this verse. The first, is how this Scripture starts, “If My people…” “If” puts the burden and responsibility squarely on our shoulders to follow through with the conditions God has placed here…namely, for us to have a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit. It is only at that time and after that is completed, (marked by the second important word, “then”) that God will forgive and heal the land. You could call these prerequisites…things God requires of us beforehand…not because He’s a mean tyrant, but because He’s a good and just God.
Later in the Bible, the Apostle Paul admonished the Church in Philippi to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) This has to be one of the toughest things to do given mankind’s self-centered, egotistic nature. Instead of seeking out our own 15 minutes of fame, we need to be trying to outdo one another in showing honor. Rather than demanding respect, we need to be recognizing others and praising them for important work they’re doing. Vanity looks for fame and glory, while humility moves “self” off the throne as we esteem others.