The Importance of Humility in the Christian Life (Part 2)
When we think of the attributes of God we often think of things like His Holiness, His righteousness, and His omniscience. The thing that hardly every gets mentioned as an attribute of God is His humility. But that humility is what motivates Him to love us, even in our sin and failure. (from Podcast Episode #469 - Don't Stop Fighting for Humility)
Nate: I touched on this a little in part 1 of this interview, and you did too: God Himself is humble. That still boggles my mind because that's so different from what I'm like by nature. And Jesus said this, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) This is the most powerful, most intelligent, and most wise being imaginable and He is lowly in heart. It's just astounding. When you look at His earthly life, where do you see His humility the most?
Steve: Humility is almost like a non-thing. So, I almost want to say, instead of Him saying, “I am lowly in heart,” or, “I am humble,” He is more saying, “there is no pride in me.” So, it’s like he is saying, “because there's no pride in me, come unto me.” But yeah, the Lord just doesn't have anything in Him that wants to exalt himself at someone else's expense or anything like that. The opposite is the devil. Self-exaltation is what he lives in.
Nate: I was just talking to one of the students in the Residential Program last night and he told me this story that was really amazing. He said that at one time in his life, he told the Lord, if you were here right now before me, I would spit in your face. I don't want you telling me how to run my life. And he said, The Lord said, “And I would still love you.” And that shattered him. And he said, if that's what you're like, I'll spend the rest of my life serving you.
Steve: The only thing I would say about that is that the Lord knew that was the thing that would shatter him. But if he did not reveal His majesty and His almighty power to people, most wouldn't even pay any attention to Him. They have to see Him in fear first and then, as they come to know Him, eventually their hearts do dissolve and they do humble themselves and come to love Him because of what He's like. But it usually must begin with the sight of His fearsome majesty and power. That's where most people have to begin.
Nate: Yeah. That's what it was for me. I want to park on this still and just talk about God's humility a little bit more because when somebody says, “Let's talk about the attributes of God,” there's always a list that comes to mind. His love, His righteousness, His holiness, and His omniscience. There are all these attributes, but I don't know that I had ever heard someone mention humility in that list before I came to Pure Life. So, I want to bring more of that out. God says this in Isaiah chapter 57, “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with Him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15a ESV) What other ways do you see God's humility revealed?
Steve: Before I answer that question, I would like to comment on that verse you just quoted from Isaiah. We did a Bible study as a staff body a few weeks ago on fellowshipping with the Lord and when I think of fellowship, I believe that one can only fellowship with people at the level they are at. So, a brand-new Christian is going to be on a pretty shallow level of fellowship. Whereas seasoned saints can really fellowship on a deep level. So, when you think about the Lord wanting to reside with someone, be with someone, be in their presence, who He wants to be with is someone who's on His level - not that we could ever be on His level. But what I mean is someone who's contrite of heart, whose self-life has been delivered blow after blow to the point where that person truly does walk in humility. The Lord says that's the one I want to be around. That just came to me as you were reciting that verse.
Nate: Yea. Because the other side of that is that He wants to dwell with that person because that's what He's like. You could say that God is contrite and lowly in spirit. I don’t mean contrite in the sense that He needs to repent of anything, but He's like that. Can we talk a little more about this? What are other ways that you see God's humility being revealed?
Steve: In everything. He’s given us the Bible. He’s given us a world to live in. He is willing to share so much with us. Compared with Him we are such puny, nothing beings and so full of ourselves. Yet He still condescends to us. Everything that God does comes out of His humility. Otherwise, why would He even bother with things as deplorable as us, when we’ve completely trashed and polluted ourselves with sin, self, and pride? Why would He? Or I should say, how could He? only because of the utter absence of pride in His being.
<pull-quote>Everything that God does comes out of His humility.<pull-quote><tweet-link>TweetThis<tweet-link>
Nate: Wow, that is amazing. It just shows you love and humility are really the same thing.
Steve: One and the same.
Nate: You know, one of the things that God speaks to us about in His Word is that pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. So, as a person is really repenting of sexual sin and coming into this new life of victory, I see in that, that the devil doesn't necessarily have to blatantly tempt us with sexual sin. He can tempt us in more subtle ways because he knows if he can get us into pride, then it's just inevitable that we are going to fall in some way. So, I'd like to give people some things to look at as far as common ways that the devil tempts us back into pride so that we can be aware of it and keep walking in humility.
Steve: Well, you can't be in sexual sin without being in pride. It's not possible. They go hand in hand. So, a person who has been in habitual sin of any kind has been in habitual high-mindedness as well. So, if they're coming out of sexual sin, they are also coming down out of pride at some level. But not that much. It takes a long time and a lot of work on God's part to bring a person down. It’s not like they somehow repent of sexual sin and now they're a lowly, contrite person. But they have probably gone through some experience of brokenness. So when you're in that state of brokenness, that is poverty of spirit and that is lowliness. But reality also tells me having dealt with so many people over the years that people don’t always continue to walk in lowliness once they begin. The first steps of brokenness and poverty of spirit is an experience that helps one see where the Lord wants to take them.
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So this person has probably had their self-life and their pride delivered a real blow. And what the enemy will try to do is find ways to get this person to succumb to opportunities to bolster their ego. And it's usually at the expense of someone else. So maybe someone will come at them with something, and the temptation will be to go into the old attack mode. Or maybe they find an opportunity to shine at church or wherever, so they puff themselves up. It's endless the different ways the enemy can come at us and draw us back into that same kind of devilish thinking. But you know, the Lord is there to help us and especially once we start recognizing it, then we can say, “Wait a minute. I'm not going down that path.” And the Lord will help us to walk away from that opportunity.
Nate: And what an amazing graciousness in the heart of Jesus that He even uses our failures to humble us.
Steve: Yeah. To bring good to us. It's another picture of His lowliness that He would even think that way.