It can seem sometimes like we are on the hamster wheel of life. This is especially true when it comes to our evaluation of ourselves when compared with others. While I cannot speak for everyone, I am sure that most of us struggle with this in some form. The problem with trying to “Keep up with the Jones” encourages a number of less than best choices in our lives. The Bible reminds us to get off the wheel and walk with Jesus. This is when we begin to go somewhere in our life!
I have been reminded over the last several months of the importance of humility. It is hard to know what humility looks like. Yet, the Bible provides us with a number of examples. It is has been said, that the moment we acknowledge our humility is the point at which we lose it! This spring in our study of Philippians I was reminded of the priority of humility when Paul encouraging us to imitate Jesus. It is in this passage that we read, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”( Philippians 2:3–4) Our action not our words reveal genuine humility.
One of Satan’s deceptions that appeals to us is that character qualities like humility are a sign of weakness. What is surprising is humility is the exact opposite, a sign of strength. Humility demonstrates the self-control over our emotions, thoughts and actions. It takes real strength to control ourselves. James, Jesus’ brother had this to say about controlling our tongue. He reminds us that mighty horses can be controlled with a small bit in the mouth and ships can be controlled with a very small rudder. But he says this about the tongue. “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5)
This past Sunday our guest speaker Pastor Tom Ruhlman focused on 2 Corinthians 11 as part of our “Authentic Ministry” series. One of the highlights pointed out Paul’s humility when being attacked. The question is how would you respond to questions of your qualifications or abilities? The Apostle did not name drop those that he knew, the places he has been, his family pedigree, his academic achievements or even his personal accomplishments. He chose in the latter portion of the chapter to focus on instead his struggles and his trials in life. It is in this context that we hit the verse that stood out to me. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30)
Here we find the secret of getting off the hamster wheel of comparison. It is achieved when we focus on what God is doing in our lives and give Him the credit. The Lord’s word to his people through the prophet Jeremiah reminds us of having the right focus. “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.””(Jeremiah 9:23–24) So the question is, “If I will be boasting about something, will I be boasting about the Lord’s working through my weakness?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson