humility is a sly fox

I am very aware of the difference between true humility and humiliation. The former, a heart chooses in secret before the watchful eye of my persistent inner boast. The latter, is not so subtle and usually comes about because of unfortunate circumstances (see yesterday’s post) a heart tries to avoid.

We are never really humble, or at least we would never know it. Our boasting nature would not let that knowledge sit long enough for it to remain true. Even as I was reading about humility in the Lent devotional this morning, I was thinking about publishing this post.

Then I got to the end and read this closing prayer out loud.

Humble my heart before thee, and replenish it with thy choicest gifts. As water rests not on barren hill summits, but flows down to fertilize lowest vales, So make me the lowest of the lowly, that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. When I leave duties undone, may condemning thought strip me of pride, deepen in me devotion to thy service, and quicken me to more watchful care. When I am tempted to think highly of myself, grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy; Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower of faith, and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord; If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness, and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to thy grace. Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.
The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, UK. 2003.

I almost didn’t make it through to the end because I started to feel dishonest. I prayed for grace to finish the prayer as I tripped over the words. Make me the lowest of the lowly? So that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. And the lines I will repeat to the rest of this Saturday:

If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness, and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to thy grace.

Humility is a sly fox and I won’t try to scare him out from hiding. I will just keep praying for grace to pray these prayers, believing that God is always faithful.

resigned, but found

Resignation sounds like defeat.

It sounds like you let something or someone else win. Resignation often happens after a hard fight – the relaxing of muscles after strained opposition. And there’s a heavy humility in knowing the object of opposition overtook all your efforts.

Resignation sounds like defeat because resignation is defeat. It bends our shoulders in submission as we admit our efforts were just not enough.

If it’s possible, I woke up today feeling this way – resigned, with shoulders bent. I know this sounds like a defeated posture. And, honestly, it feels like a defeated posture. But, as I pray for the Lord to be victorious in and through me today, I know that I must resign my own efforts and rely on His might.

I’m resigning all the ways I would push my own agenda and promote my own schemes so that my heart might be one found by Him and strengthened. The alternative (not resigning to the Lord’s ways, strength, and guidance) is war. When we foolishly oppose God’s purposes by relying on our own efforts, we welcome war.

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9 ESV)

Resignation might look like defeat, but only until your heart is found and strengthened by the living God. Then resignation looks like victory.

“Not I ask for, not I strive for
But Thy grace so rich and free.
That Thou givest whom Thou lovest,
and who truly cleave to Thee.”

misplaced humility

Maybe we just have things turned around (wouldn’t be the first time for the human race). Maybe we’ve shelved things in the wrong place and now it’s hard to find what we’re looking for.
Maybe it’s like when you are making a recipe and you know you bought cumin, but you’ve torn apart the whole kitchen and still can’t find it. Then… after admitting defeat and cranking a can of Progresso soup open in disgust, you see little Tommy flying a plane around the kitchen with little cumin as its pilot.

Maybe that’s what we’ve done with humility.

“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be.
A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.

Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert–himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason. . . .

The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . .

The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . .

We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”

G.K. ChestertonOrthodoxy [Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1957], pp. 31-32

Powerful insight once again from G.K.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (b. 29 May 1874 – d....