2004-07-11_0955_FromJoeWatson

The title to this post is misleading. It’s a bit of click bait because there is no such thing as wow humility. It’s an oxymoron, right?

Or is it?

More on that later.

The opposite of humility, pride, is a huge, eight-hundred-pound gorilla sitting in the living room of Christianity. We must deal with it. It will not go away. In the Western United States, the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except grizzlies. They will kill you.” Pride will never make you stronger, although from the world’s point of view, it may seem that way. But pride will kill you, not physically like a grizzly, but spiritually, morally, and psychologically. Pride comes before, not just humiliation, not just hard times, not just what the culture calls “instant karma,” it comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

Wanna be destroyed?

Yeah. Me neither.

I recently heard William Lane Craig talking about pride and humility, and he loosely quoted Isaac Newton, the man who wrote the monumental Principia, one of the most important works in the history of science and physics: “I feel as though I have been nothing but a little child playing on the shore, finding a smoother rock or a prettier shell than before while the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.” Craig added, “How pathetic and weak our intellectual attainments are.”

Humility. It rumbles along underneath Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In fact, it is the third truth Jesus addressed. “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Is that important to us Christians? Do a good thing here and think about that truth. These are not just pleasant words painted on a coffee mug. What does it mean that those who humble themselves, those who think of themselves as least, as their Savior did, will inherit…the earth someday?

The eight-hundred-pound gorilla that opposes humility is sitting smackdab in the living room of our Christian lives whether we recognize it or not, and it may keep us from an inheritance. What kind of inheritance specifically? I do not know. All I have are Jesus’ words.

Here’s one to try on for size: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6b).1

Would you like to have the Creator of the universe, the One who upholds all things by the word of His power, opposing you?

Yeah. Me neither.

Do you remember the last sentence in the Lord’s prayer when Jesus taught us how to pray? “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).2

Whose kingdom is it? Who rules over all things?

Not you.

Who has power?

Not you.

Who receives glory?

Not you.

God and God alone is worthy of glory. If we are taking the glory for something, we have just poked the eight-hundred-pound gorilla. We have just taken the first step down a path of destruction. We have just taken the first step to having God oppose us.

So, let’s return to wow humility. How could such a thing exist?

Sincere Christians know that all I have written above about pride is true. We teach about the dangers of pride. But then, all too often, we go right on ahead and exhibit it. Now, we don’t know the heart of an individual who says something like, “We had the largest crowd in the history of our church last Sunday,” or “The Lord, through our ministry in Africa, has done great things.” That could be a praise to God, or it could be wow humility, a case of maintaining humility while boasting about the accomplishments of men. However, I find it a little harder to believe that statements like, “Our church is awesome,” or “Our pastor is awesome,” is not wow humility. Please allow me to encourage you, Christian brother or sister, to refrain from the exaltation of Christians or Christian organizations. If we do so, we are boasting about the works of people. Paul wrote, “So let no one boast in men” (1 Corinthians 3:21a). He addressed boasting again in his second letter to Corinth: “‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17–18).

Let the Lord do the commending. Keep your heart clean from destructive pride by boasting in the Lord alone. One hundred years from now, almost no one will remember your pastor or the heydays of your church. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14b).2 Finally, a good and challenging word about humbling oneself from Jesus: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).. Let the Lord exalt you, your pastor, or your church. The path to that exaltation only comes through true humility—not wow humility.

1Except where noted, all Scriptures are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson

Thanks to Joe Watson for the photo.

 

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