The Divine Cycle of Humility.
“The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life…Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” (Proverbs 3:34; 22:4)
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5b)
Here in San Antonio, “this September is already the second-wettest in San Antonio’s recorded history, according to the National Weather Service. By the end of Saturday, rainfall in San Antonio this month totaled 13.65 inches — about 2 inches short of the all-time record of 15.78 inches set in 1946.” (1) In one month, we have had almost half of the rain we had for all of 2017. The constant rain and today’s Bible verses on humility, the new topic for this devotion, have me thinking about the water cycle. Rain comes down, falls in the aquifer, lakes, and rivers, and then the water is absorbed into the atmosphere, eventually ending up in clouds, which give us more rain. The water cycle benefits us, the animals, fish, birds, and all plant life; it is not just a repetitive action, but the grace of God to sustain earthly life.
John Gill’s commentary on the Bible verses above has helped me to be aware of the cycle of God’s grace and our humility. The writer of Proverbs 22:4b points out that God favors his humble people. However, it takes the grace of God to humble us in the first place. Gill writes, “Grace is God’s gift, first and last, what is had in first conversion…for perseverance to the end: sanctifying, justifying, pardoning, and adopting grace, are the pure gifts of God, of his own favor and good will, without any merit, motive, or condition in the creature” (2) As we begin to consider “humility,” it is vital to remember that it is not like a hat that we put on our heads when we go outside in the sun. We do not make ourselves humble; it is a work of Christ in our hearts, to see ourselves as our exalted Lord sees us.
Of humility Gill writes, “This is a grace which shows itself in a man’s thinking and speaking the best of others, and the worst of himself; in not affecting places and titles of eminence; in being content with the lowest place, and patiently bearing the greatest contempt; in not aspiring to things too high for him, always acknowledging his own meanness, baseness, and unworthiness, ascribing all he is, and has, to the grace and goodness of God, whether it be gifts of nature, providence, or grace: and this is a believer’s clothing, not the robe of his justifying righteousness before God, but is a considerable part of his inward garment of sanctification, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (3)
We are not insignificant, but we are not superior either. Only Jesus Christ has the power to change our self-image from self-confident, self-justifying humans to sober, God-pleasing people. Only Jesus can humble us to see our sinfulness and give us the faith to receive his forgiveness. As he continues to humble us through our sanctification, we want to yield more and more to him. The more we submit to Christ, the more grace we receive and the more humble we become, pleasing God, who honors the humble with spiritual riches.
What is your definition of humility? Do you try to be humble and fail? Instead of trying to make yourself more humble (to possibly look better on the outside), are you willing to become more submissive to God?
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-3.html
(3) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1peter-5.html