Wilderness: Humble Thyself

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5 NIV).”

According to Merriam-Webster, meek is the characteristic of mildness, submissiveness, and moderation. Meekness is assuming a posture of humility before God and others. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that those who take the low position, those whoare not proud or arrogant, will be blessed to inherit the earth.

I am often amazed by the promises God makes to those humans which he loves, and how he delivers completely on those promises. It pleases him to work on our behalf, to ensure we are blessed and all we have to do is acknowledge him as Lord and depend on him for everything. After all, he has proven himself trustworthy time and again, and he has unlimited resources.

Dr. Tony Evans writes, “Fasting demands humility, and humility means self-denial.” Humbling ourselves before God through fasting and prayer reveals our heart’s true condition, and permits us to surrender to God and ask for help.

James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

The Bible is filled with references of those who humbled themselves before the Lord verses those the Lord humbled. (Being humbled by the Lord is not a pleasant experience.) The continuous pattern revealed through the scripture is that those who humbled themselves before the Lord received his mercy.

Mercy is a loaded word that we should probably discuss more later. When you think about mercy, think God’s compassion and patience with us, think favor and blessing, think about a loving mother’s response to the barefooted one year old who accidentally broke her China dish—that’s mercy.

Take a look at God’s merciful response to:

Ahab’s (a very evil person) choice to fast and humble himself before the Lord – 1 Kings 21:25-29

King Josiah’s choice to humble himself – 2 Kings 22:18-20

God makes a conditional promise to hear the prayers, forgive sin, and heal the land if Israel humbles themselves and seek his face through prayer and repentance.

God his disobedient people, Israel, God spoke, “If my people who are called upon my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

And a few New Testament passages:

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4).”

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:12).”

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10).”

There are many more scriptures of this nature. In a culture that thrives on self-sufficiency and making our own way, it is easy to yield to the subtle belief that our blessings and successes come simply because we are good people, are good at what we do, are well-educated and experienced, or because we work hard. Biblically, we see that God desires to bless, give good gifts, and extend his mercy to those who honor him and know and accept their proper place of surrender before him.

Humble people do not force their way, ignore authority and wise counsel, step over people to get what they want or manipulate situations. Humble people surrender to the Lord with the trust and understanding that he will chart a way that is good and that he will fulfill his promises to them.

Humility is a sign we are becoming more like Christ. Humility produces Godly character, particularly for a leader. God seeks people who are humble and uses them mightily for his own sake. Numbers 12:3 says of Moses: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” God used Moses to lead his chosen people, Israel, out of slavery in Egypt and into the land he promised.

Why do we struggle to humble ourselves before the Lord? God clearly presents this choice and desires for us to humble ourselves so he will not have to humble us. How do we consistently press through or overcome this struggle?

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012

2 thoughts on “Wilderness: Humble Thyself

  1. You ask, “how do we overcome the struggle to be humble?” Sometimes, okay, MOST of the time, well, practically ALL the time, I don’t feel like being humble. Pride and selfishness are my default settings. These are my natural, inward attitudes that invariably rule my actions. Humility, too, has its “attitude” component and its “action” component.

    You quoted Dr. Evans: “Fasting demands humility…” and I agree. He is claiming the attitude of humility is necessary for the humble act of fasting to occur.

    But I have also found that fasting can PRODUCE humility. If you fast–even for a brief time–the attitude of humility will follow and grow.

    So, what about the struggle? Pray and start small. Can you, like, fast for 5 minutes? Next time, go ten minutes. Get it? If you usually snack in the middle of the afternoon, then try fasting between lunch and dinner. As you do, relax into the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work on your heart–and you just work on keeping your hand out of that potato chip bag.

    1. Thank you for this comment, Donna. I totally agree that fasting can produce humility. After reading several passages, I concluded, “I would much rather humble myself before the Lord than continue in pride and force his hand to humble me. Not good.” I also appreciate your recommendation to start small so as not to intimidate people who are fasting for the first time. That’s what I did. I started skipping one meal and replaced that time with prayer, and eventually worked up to a 24 hour fast. Though from Scott McKnight’s book, I understand it is not physically wise to fast longer than 13 hours. So if I felt God leading me to fast for longer than a day, I would most likely resume multiple “sun up-sun down” fasts.

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