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.
Elsewhere in Mark, Jesus brought home this point when He said, ” If anyone wants to be first he must be the very last and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) But having a servant’s heart goes against our grain. We’d much rather be honored and have people serve us than swallow our pride and do for others. But we need to remember that the most important thing that comes out of a servant’s heart is joy. For when we put others ahead of ourselves…we’re putting our priorities in proper perspective… Jesus first –Others second – Yourself last.
Christianity is not a competition sport, but we sure can make it that way. The Lord tells us to serve one another with love and humility…but we’d rather make it a contest to see who can be the most spiritual…and the one whose the most highly respected and honored by others. So what we’ve done is taken the Lord’s words of submitting to one another… and done the opposite. Instead of being accountable to God with respect and honor towards fellow Believers…we approach these interactions with envy, competition, and how we can make ourselves look more saintly. Sadly, this “holier-than-thou” attitude is contrary to all of Christ’s teachings, and is actually willful disobedience to His Word.
This comes from the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector that Jesus taught to a group of self-righteous, haughty people. It says in verse 10 that both men went up to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee pushed his way up to the front of the crowd in order to be seen and heard by everyone, and once there, proceeded to pray loudly and arrogantly…basically telling God how lucky He was to have him. On the other hand, the Tax Collector stood way back in the courtyard, daring not to even look up to heaven, but rather beating his breast and whispering, “God have mercy on me.” In Jeremiah 31:19 it says, “After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understanding, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.” The road from self-deception to self-awareness requires acknowledgement…admitting I’m just as sinful as those around me and not one bit more righteous.
Humble us O Lord. We are a selfish, self-serving generation. A proud and arrogant people who put themselves first in every vain endeavor. Lord show us how to be meek and gentle…respectful and unpretentious in our everyday interactions. Cause us to consider others and their needs before ours. Humble us O Lord.