The last few weeks we have been in a series called mind games. It has been a thought provoking series exploring how different attitudes affect the way we think and live. This week we’re exploring the attitude of humility and how it can lead us into a more abundant life. If we want to travel the path of humility, we must fiercely uproot the footing of pride. God’s view of pride is close at hand since he has so graciously revealed truth to us through His word for our good and His glory. Scripture tells us that pride is a trap (Psalm 59:12). Pride should be offensive to us, as it is to the Lord (Proverbs 8:13). Pride is a destroyer (Proverbs 16:18). Eventually, it will humiliate you (Proverbs 29:23). Pride is not a new temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Pride begins as a small seed, almost completely undetectable, but over time, if it is cultivated and nourished in the heart, it will eventually hijack a life and forces it to dwell in the dirty, desolate shack of spiritual poverty. There is wickedness lurking in a prideful heart that will rip apart a life, shred a family to pieces, and devour anything sacred that gets in its path.
CS Lewis poignantly describes pride as, “…one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. […] There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.[…]The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.”
The antithesis of pride is humility. God is pleased by a humble heart. He is attentive to the desires and needs of the person who humbles himself. I believe one reason God honors the humble but opposes the proud (Psalm 18:27, 25:9, 138:6, James 4:6) is because humility leads to a place of unity and pride leads to disunity. You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the deep divides being spawned by political tensions. A mix of social media and dishonest journalism added to an already highly individualistic culture, with an increasing tendency to only “do life” in homogenous communities has only fanned the flame of disunity.
Followers of Christ are called to something very different. We are called to a life of love, humility, and unity as we engage with a very diverse world. We are called to freedom.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:13-15)
If we want to experience Christian unity, as God intended, we have to understand that, first and foremost, we are united by Christ. We are not united by race, social justice issues, national identity or political party. We are united by the blood of the one through whom and for whom all creation was brought into being. As Christian brothers and sisters, we have two life changing realities in common. One, we are all sinners in need of grace and two, our sin can lose its power through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If we fully grasped our reality, maybe we would not “bite and devour one another” so readily and be more willing to seek freedom through living life in a community that is based on the common ground of Jesus Christ.
Please don’t mistake what I am describing for a group of humdrum Christians all singing the same old song. God did not create a creepy group of clones, all living identical lives. He created a vastly unique group of people who he calls his own. In God’s economy there is room for differing opinions, there is room for conversations and room for processing through beliefs. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong. But here’s the catch. Jesus challenges us to not live and die in the disagreements but he beckons us to push through and find the place of unity that He has already prepared for us. This unity is not based on anything devised by human hands, it is based on what has been given by God’s generous, loving hand. Through His son, God has so richly blessed us in the heavenly places with every spiritual blessing, how can we not give our Father the gift of unity that is so precious in His sight? This is what Paul describes in Philippians 2 and I believe that this is what God longs to see lived out in the church. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same lovåe, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Humility is a struggle because it involves trust. We have to trust that we will be okay, even if our position is not understood immediately. A spirit of rivalry can rear its ugly head in all of us when we seek to advance our own agenda. But as we become more conformed into the image of Christ, humility will call us to lay our own agendas down for a minute so we can listen and serve one another well. I pray that in my own life and in the life of White River Christian Church, we would cultivate a gentle spirit of humility that would be a sweet aroma and a most pleasant sacrifice to the Lord. Lord, may you bring a spirit of humility into our hearts to create a sense of unity in Christ and an intentional love with one another that cannot be broken.