“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
I was mildly surprised to learn that the word pride appears in the NIV Bible sixty-nine times. I was even more surprised to read that humble, humbled, and humility is mentioned in the NIV version eighty-eight times!
Why did I deem it necessary to tell you the number of times that each of the words appears in Scripture? Well, I’m a bit of a trivia buff and I found the results to be worth mentioning. That, and my feelings that pride and humility are inextricably linked, yet worlds apart. Linked, in that they’re both a part of our human “condition;” apart, in that you can’t have one (humility) without losing the other (pride), or vice-versa.
The inspiration for today’s post was actually last week’s post, The Power of Words. Well, it wasn’t so much the post itself as it was some of the feedback that I received that got my mental wheels turning. Many of you couldn’t understand why I bothered to offer an apology to the Catholic community for yet another post that appeared in a local publication that was titled A God of Fear? After all, I was just sharing what was on my heart, right?
Why should I have to apologize for sharing what’s on my heart?
Actually, there are several answers to this question, the first being the very purpose of The Seed of Hope. Each week my intention is to enlighten, inspire, and plants seed of hope in all Christians, not just one particular denomination. Almost two years ago my wife Jackie and I became members of Church of The Highlands here in Birmingham, a non-denominational Christian church. To tell you the truth, neither of us ever talked about, or planned on finding a non-denominational church to attend, but apparently it was in God’s plan for us. Now when someone hits me with “What are you?” my simple reply is “I’m a Christian.” That is, as they say, “the bottom” line, isn’t it? It’s not my intention to offend anyone, especially a fellow Christian.
The second reason for my apology is that sometimes it feels good to apologize. Yes you read it correctly. It feels good to apologize. What is it about our society that makes us feel as though we always have to be right? I believe that for many of us accepting that we’ve done or said something wrong actually overshadows the need to be right, and this is where pride and humility are often in an epic struggle. I’ll admit here and now that until a year or so ago, I didn’t always have to be right, but I hated to be wrong! Today it’s easy for me to admit that I’m wrong, and even easier to offer an apology.
So, what happened to cause this about face in my attitude?
November 6th will mark the fourth anniversary of the day that I began to recite the Prayer of Jabez every morning:
“Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I might not cause pain.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV
In saying this prayer, I was making a commitment to turn my life over to God. You see, I had been doing things “my way” for fifty-four years, which had led to a life of anger, resentment, and disappointment. (See The Prayer of Jabez 3/02/2009)
A few days later I began saying a simple prayer that I had jotted down on a small piece of paper that morning while I was sitting in my “prayer chair” in our kitchen. I call it, quite simply, A Prayer for Humility:
God grant me the ability to be all in life that I desire to be.
God give me the humility to remain the man I am today.
In saying the Prayer of Jabez, I was asking God to change my life and all that I did in it.
In saying A Prayer for Humility, I was asking God to change my life and all that I did in it; but not me. I didn’t know what God in store for me, but I was begging Him for change, praying that He had big plans for me, and asking Him to keep me humble.
I’ve said many times on these pages that God listens to our prayers, and that not one single prayer offered to Him goes unheard. I’ve gotta tell you that God was listening to my prayers that day, and that, in His way and in His timing, He has answered both of them during the course of the past four years.
If you’ve frequented these pages often enough you know that what God has done in my life, has been more than I can wrap my brain around. He has allowed me to grow so much in every area of my life, none more important than in my relationship with Him. As my relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit has grown, so has my humility.
There’s an old adage that “everything comes full circle.” That is to say that fashion trends, and hair styles, and architecture, and things of that nature complete a cycle and end up pretty much where they began. That’s certainly the case with today’s post. It was God’s gift of humility to me that was the inspiration for A God of Fear, the post that started all of this apology issue.
It was humility that allowed me to let go of my pride and sense of “self” and stand before God to ask for His forgiveness. It was humility that pushed me beyond my fear of God, and allowed me to seek a relationship with Him that would shift my world off of its axis. It was humility that brought me to the point of completely surrendering my life to God and to His will.
If you’re a “believer,” and if you recognize God as being the Creator of all things, and if you feel that HE is the center of the universe, and the supplier of all that you have, and the giver of life, and your source of strength, and all the things that He is that I could not possibly list because my feeble mind can’t fathom all that He is… Do you get what I’m saying here? HE is all that.
If you believe some or most of that, or if you want to believe it but just can’t quite bring yourself to do it, because you have a hard time believing that God could possibly be all that….
HE is all that. And more. More than you can possibly imagine.
You want a true relationship with Him? Humble yourself before Him. Submit yourself to Him. You see, the path to everything good is through Him. Everything. Happiness, joy, peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, and freedom are yours. Everything.
And it all starts with humility. When you can humble yourself before our Immortal God, humbling yourself before mortal man is a piece of cake.
Amen and Amen.