October 31, 2012 by nathanodell
The Lord is always teaching us something in our walk with Him. Most times He teaches us a few things at the same time. Other times He will labour a long time on one specific thing until it is learned and assimilated to the point where a specific area of our lives is totally transformed. When I look back I am in awe of how the Lord does this in the most gracious and gentle of ways. He definitely knows what is best and He can see much further down the road than we can. We share such a wonderful Father! With this in mind, I’d like to share one of the things the Lord has been teaching me, which has resulted in probably the most transformation in my walk with the Lord up to this point.
When we meet other brothers and sisters we almost always attempt to suss them out. We generally ask probing questions to figure out what theology they believe or what level of maturity they are at. On the flip side, when another believer tries to suss us out, we try to make ourselves look as great as possible. This might involve sharing some deep truth or quoting a horde of scripture from memory to show that we are ‘mature’ and ‘deep’. God forbid that somebody thinks we are an immature believer or we feel we are being looked down upon. Another thing that often happens is that a young believer will be so overwhelmed by someones knowledge and speaking that they will feel their thoughts and understandings are stupid or meaningless. I have been guilty of all of these things and I’m sure we can all relate to some aspect of this.
At the heart of these things is pride or a lack of knowing your true identity as a son or daughter of our Father. In the case of pride, true and meaningful relationships will rarely ever form since pride is opposed to knowing the heart of God and the heart of people. Not enjoying and living in the full acceptance into God’s family also makes us feel the need to be acknowledged for our own greatness or ability.
So what has the Lord been teaching me? He has been teaching me to take the way of Christ.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:2-8
The way of Christ is the way of lowliness, humility and death of self. Augustine of Hippo said that, for those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing. To live in humility means to humble yourself. God will not humble you since ‘humbling’ someone is known as humiliation. The people who nailed Christ to the cross were humiliating Him, but for Him it was an act of humility because He chose to lay His life down and receive that humiliation. In the same way, when we choose the way of humility, it may often feel humiliating. People may think you are immature or have little knowledge but it is the way of Christ. Paul also said that we should esteem others better than ourselves. This is an amazing principle and takes extreme humility to live this out. We must esteem even the newest and most immature believer better than ourselves. This means that we must listen to them with the intention of learning and receiving ministry from them. We must let them encourage us and build us up as they are also part of the body of Christ. This is an amazing kingdom principle because if we all lived like this we would constantly be building one another up and encouraging one another. We would all have a heart to receive from one another. This bottom up approach is rarely seen. The common action seen among believers is jostling for positions and trying to ‘one up’ another in the area of knowledge and spirituality. The kingdom way and the way of humility pushes people up by us getting beneath them and encouraging and exhorting – by us becoming lowly. The other way is trying to climb on top of others, and by doing this we push them down.
In the culture we live in, this is totally unnatural. Modern culture is all about making a name for ourselves and for others to see our ability and greatness. Jesus addressed this amazingly in Matthew 23.
Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Firstly, Christ says that we should not call ourselves leaders because there is only one person who is our leader – Himself. To call yourself a leader undermines the leadership and headship of Christ in His body. We are all equally brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Some may have different functions in the body, but at the end of the day we are all under the headship and leadership of Christ and Him alone. The way of Christ is mutual submission. The greatest in the kingdom are those who humbly serve others. When there is servant heart characterized by mutual submission in a group of believers, then there is room for Christ to lead freely since there is no man-made form of leadership trying to do a job only He can do.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph. 5:21
Patience, gentleness and long-suffering with one another also characterize the way of humility. Paul mentions these things time and time again in his letters to different Churches because they were of the utmost importance to the proper functioning of the Church as being the expression of Christ to the world. How often do we get offended by a brother or sister or write them off because they have a slightly different way of understanding a scripture? How easy is it to think we know more than a brother and sister and then not listen to what they have to say because of this?
The way of humility causes us to treasure the words of any brother or sister regardless of whether what they share is new revelation or old revelation, simply because we can enjoy that the Lord is teaching them something new in their walk with Him. The way of humility is acceptance of wrongs committed against us instead of defensiveness and bitterness. It is speaking the truth in love… truth can humiliate and hurt someone if it is done without love. Showing someone that their actions are sinful according to the word is exposing them with the truth, but it can still hurt them. Love covers a multitude of sins… and is patient, kind and long-suffering. The way of humility is to restore a brother or sister, not expose them.
The way of humility teaches you to hear the heart of God when in fellowship with others. We often feel the need to share every detail of everything the Lord has been teaching us… but this is not always what the Lord will want to share with someone else. Humility holds back and gives what is necessary for a brother and sister to hear at that time. The Lords voice becomes much clearer when taking the way of humility because we empty ourselves of the things that create noise and distractions.
This is a precious topic in my heart and there is much more I could say. My hope is that this post will draw you deeper into your walk with Christ. My hope is that Christ will teach us how to walk in humility, gentleness and long-suffering with one another. My hope is that all of us will build meaningful relationships with others based on humbleness and mutual submission. By doing so, may Christ lead us in our walk with one another and with Him.