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November 2013 The Path of Humility

From My Life’s Journey                                                                   November, 2013  

Topic:  The Path of Humility

This past week has been rather humbling, so this month I’ll address the topic of humility from a personal perspective.  Allow me to start right off with my key point:  Those who aspire to be used of God to accomplish great things for the Kingdom must walk in humility.  In a society where pride and selfishness thrive, God calls His people to walk humbly before Him.  Micah 6:8 presents a foundational truth for Christians:  "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Christians should not be people who constantly seek their own way or look for ways to exalt themselves.  It is the path of humility that God blesses, and occasionally He allows circumstances or situations to occur that place you on that path or move you further along it.  Two such things happened to me this past week.  One I am too embarrassed to share, and the other I will reveal. 

Catawba Valley Medical Center does scheduled health screenings at the mall, and I decided to take advantage of the cholesterol screening.  It was to be held early on a Wednesday morning, so I had to carefully manage my schedule to make sure I stopped eating at a certain time the night before (to fast), get a good night’s rest, get up early the next morning, and arrive at the correct time.  I am a detail-oriented person, so I was pleased with myself for accomplishing these goals.  I walked confidently to the screening area and saw that there was no one there.  My mind raced: “Wait a minute!  What’s going on?  It’s 20 minutes before the screening time is to end.  Did they quit early?”

My mind had a flurry of questions, but soon I saw someone moving around in the screening area, so I asked what was going on.  I showed the lady the brochure with the schedule information, and she looked at it, and then at me.  She kindly said, “What is the date of the screening?”  I said, “November … uh, next week!”  Yes, I was a week early.  This detail-oriented, “dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’” woman messed up the details and was completely humbled by the experience.  In those few minutes, it quickly dawned on me that I cannot think of myself more highly than I ought (Rom. 12:3).  I cannot allow myself to become exalted because of my gifts, talents, or education.  God is the reason that things go as well as they do for me, and I have deep need of Him.

Even Jesus was humbled:  “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).  We learn in James 4:6 that God gives grace to the humble.  There is even a process for promotion and elevation for Christians that is tied to humility:  “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).  Indeed, we do not need to force our way in this life because there is a due time for us: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

After the second humbling experience happened to me later in the week (the one I’m too embarrassed to tell you about), I just sat down and cried because I felt so low and disappointed in myself.  This place of mourning was a type of “dying to self” – the dying that occurs when you release dependence on self and put more and more dependence on God.  It is the path of humility.  Later that same day, a previous pastor of mine emailed me a prayer.  I hadn’t heard from her in months, and the prayer she sent –The Puritan’s Prayer – was a prayer of humility.  God knew my soul needed encouragement.  Here are some brief excerpts:

Lord Jesus, Great High Priest … I can come to thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding! … Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells . . . May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honor thee by my entire dependency … May I find thy grace sufficient for all my needs.

My pastor preached this past Sunday that God allowed Paul to have a thorn in his flesh because of the “abundance of the revelation” Paul received (2 Cor. 12:7).  Paul received such divine, spiritual downloads that God allowed a problem to persist in Paul’s life that kept him humble.  In Phil. 4:12 (Amplified), Paul ultimately revealed that he could handle abundance as well as humility: “I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance.” 

If you’re in a place or a situation that is just … humbling, stay there and acknowledge it.  Acknowledge that it is being used to help you release your dependence on yourself and replace it with more dependence on God.  After Paul talks about being abased and abounding, he explains in Phil. 4:13 that he can do all things through Christ’s strength that has been infused into him.  Somewhere on the path of humility, God gives you more of His strength, and His strength is made perfect in the acknowledgement of your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).  Are you on the path of humility?  If so, know that God is close to you!

Ever onward, ever forward~

Iris K. Barrett, Ed.D.