Several weeks ago while preaching through the Book of Luke, Pastor Bob was near the end of his sermon when he closed his Bible and took a few steps down from the pulpit. Whenever he does this, I feel as if I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for some big pearl of wisdom to get dropped into my lap. And as he steps down, it reminds me that he is one of us. He looks right at us, calls us “beloved,” and then drops that pearl of wisdom into our hearts. This particular one from that sermon has simmered in my heart ever since; perhaps it has for you as well.
He said, “Beloved – Pursue humility with everything you’ve got.”
Not only have I not stopped thinking about that statement, but I have sifted many of my thoughts, words, and even my calendar through those 7-1/2 words as well. I’m not sure I’ve ever given this much thought to my own humility before – or the lack thereof. Just how does one pursue humility with everything they’ve got? I need to know.
So I texted some friends, “Send me everything you come across regarding humility.” We all started searching, and every night I’d read whatever they sent. Late at night I’d fall asleep re-listening to John Piper’s sermon on meekness – one of my all-time favorites. I’d read and re-read the articles friends sent.
I became more aware of my interactions with family, patients, and strangers. I began questioning why I had certain social activities on my calendar, but not others. I thought about what I thought about, and recognized selfish motives. I soon realized I needed a little help in the humility department. Most, if not all of my intentions were self-serving in nature, even if no one else could tell.
While listening to one sermon in particular, the question was posed as to what we know about Jesus at 18, or 21, or 25 years of age. We don’t know much, because He wasn’t necessarily out making much of Himself. He was never out seeking attention, affirmation, inclusion, or approval. He was 100% focused on doing His Father’s will, and it was only the approval of His Father that He sought.
I soon realized I was seeking my own affirmation every time I posted on social media photos of my amazingly handsome and beautiful grandchildren. (See what I mean? I just did it again!)
And how much of my life do I really need to share on social media? Does everyone need to know that I’ve just arrived at the Pilates studio? Nope.
How much time do we spend looking for affirmation, approval, and attention from the world, instead of spending time with the Lord, and being focused on God’s will for our lives?
Identifying my own distractions became easier and easier, and I was reminded of Genesis 6:5 that says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Well, this is just about the time I could have done a face plant, except that I have a hard time getting up from the floor. That scripture could easily have read, “… and that every intention of the thoughts of Rita’s heart was only evil continually.” Seriously.
I began thinking about some of the truly humble women I know, and identifying what stands out about them. Much like I don’t know the details of what Jesus was up to in his 20’s, I don’t know much about what these ladies are up to on a daily basis either. I don’t know what they had for breakfast, what book they’re reading, the color eye shadow they put on this morning, how many days until their next cruise, what they had for lunch, how many pounds they’ve lost, what they’re having for dinner, or how many times they’ve served at the soup kitchen this month.
What I do know about these humble, wise, godly women are things I know because I pursued friendships with them. One in particular comes to mind – someone I have often found myself wondering how she would navigate different circumstances I have found myself in, and have frequently sought her wisdom. She is a “behind-the-scenes, humble, serving kind of saint. She does not draw attention to herself. She does not get on social media and post her prayers, or advice on how to be more like her. She is one of the biggest grace-hander-outers I’ve ever met, and the only time I’ve ever known what she was having for dinner was when she invited me to sit at her kitchen table. I’m sure all of you know her, but I can’t point her out because I get the impression she seeks humility with everything she’s got 😉
This will be a life-long pursuit for all of us. God forbid any of us ever believe we’ve achieved becoming 100% humble. Pastor Bob gave us some sweet wisdom that we should take to heart; and lest we be discouraged – we need only to remember that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).
God is committed to us, and tells us in Philippians 1:6b, “that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
He will ladies, He will.
So, be encouraged! And, in the words of the great philosopher, Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), “Chin Up!” And let’s all keep pursuing humility with everything we’ve got.