Posts tagged ‘humility’

The Key to Knowledge

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.   Psalm 131:1

I loved college. It was stimulating to be in a place where students loved to learn and professors loved to teach. The constant challenge of new ideas gave me fresh perspectives on life. And though I could see there was so much more to learn than what I could pack into bachelor of arts degree, I had a sense that I was mastering the knowledge presented. It wasn’t until I went to medical school that I was completely overwhelmed with the vastness of knowledge. I realized there was no way I could be an expert in every aspect of the human body, let alone the thousands of other scholarly disciplines known to man.

The beginning of wisdom is the understanding of my own limitations. Humility is a necessary ingredient in knowing God and allowing Him to work in our lives. There are so many unanswered questions. There are so many unanswerable questions. But we do not readily admit such things because we worship knowledge. As a society, we are pushing the frontiers of knowledge everyday. We believe we can solve any problem and answer any question. So we have developed GMO foods to feed the world, alternative fuels to feed our hunger for energy, and pharmaceuticals to heal our diseases.

And yet for every problem solved, there seems to be two more that develop. Many times the very solutions to problems are the creation of new ones. In our search for knowledge, which is an innate characteristic of the human species, we are well served to have a humility of spirit that grasps the limits of our ability to perceive and ascertain what is beyond our reach. This is the essence of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

And so I seek to know God’s will above all other knowledge and to experience His love. Perhaps the best way to do this is to enjoy each day one moment at a time no matter if that day brings heartaches or joy. I have discovered that the greatest knowledge is often found not in answering why something has happened, but in how God wants me to respond. Sometimes we can only answer the how question by having the humility to forget about the why question.

And so my prayer today is that my heart will not be proud nor my eyes haughty. Rather, I seek humility of spirit to experience God, to know His will, and to allow His love to be expressed to others in my words and actions. As I live this prayer through the power of God, I find that the knowledge of humility is indeed the key to knowledge itself.

Will You Sit with God?

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”   Psalm 110:1

I find spiritual battles in life to be the the toughest battles of all. Perhaps that’s because most of my battles are spiritual at their core. If I have a disagreement with a friend, how I respond is a spiritual battle within me. If I struggle to complete a task, whether I have the courage to stick it out to the end is a spiritual battle within me. And so I find what matters most is where I am at when the battle is raging.   

My first job was at the age of 12 working in the yard of a wealthy family. My dad had taken care of their lawn a few hours each week as a side job for years. But he convinced the family to hire me for 30 hours a week to care for every aspect of their lawn. It was my responsibility to trim the bushes and weed the flower beds. I was also given the task of edging around the entire house, every tree, and every bush. This was an overwhelming task except for one thing, my dad brought me lunch and we sat in the lawn to eat and converse every day. Sitting with my dad on the job he had procured for me made me feel special, safe, and assured in my abilities. During those lunches there were days we didn’t talk about much. We just enjoyed each other’s company. On other days, we talked about the next project and how to do it. That experience was not only invaluable, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Sitting with my dad made what would have been an impossible job possible. But more than that, those lunches with dad made the job enjoyable, fulfilling, and memorable.

There are a two lessons I learned from that experience. The first is that time sitting with a mentor is time well spent. This is especially true when the mentor is someone who loves and respects you. My dad was my first mentor, but not my last. As I have sat beside mentors over the years, I always feel honored and accepted. And when I sit with God, it is invaluable time that has eternal consequences. He takes my negative self talk and transforms it into thoughts that inspire me to keep going forward. As I sit with God, He turns my anger into a desire to understand myself and the one with whom I am angry. He takes what feels like an impossible situation and turns it into a fulfilling one. 

The second lesson is that God calls us into vocations, tasks, and ministries. The fact that my dad had so much confidence in me helped me to complete the tasks asked of me. And so it is in our lives as we understand God’s will in our personal lives. He has a plan for you and for me. Every time I have heard His call and responded, I have the confidence to know that He will accomplish more through me than I would ever ask or think. 

No matter what life brings, how tough the circumstances become, or the trials that come our way, we have the assurance that God invites us to sit next to Him in the place of honor. When you sit with God and allow His strength and His power to overcome the circumstances and trials that are in your life, you are the victor. The key is sitting by God’s side, listening to Him speak, and being patient to allow Him to do the work. If you’re like me, that is a difficult task. But there is no shortcut to peace of mind and joy of heart. It always comes at the side of God. What would it look like for you to sit with God this week?

What Does God Expect of Us?… Humility

We had been talking about it for a year or two when it finally happened. I was allowed to stay an entire week at my cousin’s home who lived in a town about 100 miles away. So at the age of 7 my first adventure away from the safety of my home began. It was during this week that I learned my first lesson about the difference between humility and humiliation. My cousin Brad was 2 years older than me, but due to a traumatic birth experience his intelligence would never exceed that of a 4 year old child. Brad had this problem of wetting his pants when he would get excited. When his friends knocked on the door and asked us to play, Brad was excited. I went out to play with the kids while Brad went to his mother for a change of clothes. As we were playing next to the house, I told Brad’s friends that he had wet his pants. Somehow it made me feel superior to be able to tell Brad’s friends about his problem. To my chagrin, my aunt happened to be listening to the conversation which took place beneath Brad’s bedroom window. She proceeded to tell Brad’s friends about my bed wetting problem. I was humiliated.

I learned an important lesson that day: humiliation often comes in the absence of humility. It took me a while to realize that humility is a necessary ingredient in friendship. Humility is the precursor to loyalty and the foundation of trust. It is only through humility that I can have sympathy and brotherly love. I wanted to win the adulation of Brad’s friends at the expense of Brad. I was willing to humiliate Brad in exchange for a laugh. I betrayed my own cousin to build up my ego.

The Bible has a lot to say about humility. Jesus humbled Himself to become the son of man when He was the Son of God. Jesus humbled Himself to become sin when He had no sin. There is something about humility that we resist despite the freedom it offers to all who are willing to try it. Without humility, we are headed for bondage rather than freedom, humiliation rather than exaltation, isolation rather than integration, hate rather than love. We read in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

Tag Cloud