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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

Placing Our Cares in God’s Hands

April 13th, 2018

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  (1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)

What a powerfully worded message this is. Both humility and trust are essential. To only have one without the other will misshape our hearts. One who only humbles himself and never learns to trust or to give his worries to the Lord goes around in a depressed spirit. One who casts all his cares on the Lord but does not humble his heart is haughty and proud. But when embraced together, when we are humble before the Lord and when we cast our worries upon His back, then we have peace and are prepared for whatever God places in our hands.

Breaking down these verses, each word gives insight into the meaning. “Humble” means to bring ourselves low. And the Christian, though he may raise his head high among all men and never think less of himself as a human being when compared to others, lowers himself before God.

This lowering is under the “mighty hand of God.” God is “mighty,” with sovereign power, and there is nothing too difficult for Him. The word “hand” places the exercise of His power in our world in concrete ways. We should never imagine that God is only a spiritual being and that His power is merely metaphysical. God’s hand moves in our lives and in our world in tangible ways. His mighty hand may humble us, as it did Paul, by entrusting to us a thorn in the flesh. Or it could be a difficult and perplexing situation, a task for God that is onerous and difficult, or an individual that we find extraordinarily difficult to work with.

In such situations we are to entrust ourselves to God, and not to quit the circumstance outright. If all people quit when they became fatigued or sick, when things got difficult, and when colleagues proved less than enjoyable to work with, then nothing important would ever get done. If all people quit when they could not see how to go forward, or when they felt unequal to the task, or unsupported in their leadership, then all people would quit all the time. Then it is that the believer must humble himself before the Lord and willingly accept the matters that the Lord has entrusted to him.

The point of humility under God’s hand is not just an exercise in itself, but that God may exalt us in His time. Our own timetable for our exaltation seems to not be in accordance with God’s timetable most of the time. We want exaltation and recognition, as well as support and cooperation, all the time. God, though, holds these things back until the right moment. He rewards the attitude of faith and humility before Him, so He looks for this in our hearts. When we are content to be humble before Him, desiring nothing but His glory, being obedient as Christ was obedient unto death on the cross, then it is that He will exalt us.

We should never begrudge our burdens, for in them God is teaching us that His grace is sufficient for us. And that is the greatest lesson for us to learn in life.

And verse seven says to “cast” our “cares” upon Him – meaning to toss, to let them fly. It means to take our hands off of them and give them to Him. Some things we call burdens are our personal preferences or worldly cares – “the worries of this life” (Mark 4:19) – and not burdens that God has given us. Those we should get rid of, or see them in their proper place. It is spiritual senselessness and simple worldliness to loose sleep and become anxious over a matter that is completely worldly. “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8). We all have such things in our lives, worldly things that we need to attend to, but they should never replace the things of God in our affections.

Our true “cares” are the responsibilities and circumstances that God has entrusted to us. As Paul wrote, using this same word, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). And these concerns we are to roll on His back, cast our concerns upon His shoulders, and allow Him to carry them.

Is there another way to do this other than prayer? I cannot think of one that does not begin with prayer. We say to God, “Lord, here is my concern – naming the specific circumstance – and I place the care for it into your hands. Guide me daily in the path I should take and in all my decisions.” This does not mean that we glibly walk away from a legitimate responsibility. Apathy is never the answer – these matters are our “cares” that God has given us and God never condemns us for having legitimate cares.

A parent cares for his children and they are never off of his mind, but he should live in the faith that God loves his children more than he does. A responsible leader, likewise, cares for the things that God has entrusted to him, they also are rarely off of his mind, but he must trust that God cares more. He can cast those things upon the Lord, and in so doing experience the peace and life of God, as well as His power and strength.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

We must distinguish between the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or of doubt, but there are burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off, He wants us to roll them back on Him. “Cast what He hath given thee upon the Lord” … If we undertake work for God and get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility will be overwhelmingly crushing; but if we roll back on God that which He has put upon us, He takes away the sense of responsibility by bringing in the realization of Himself.

It is the realization of Himself that our souls long for.

Do not despair when the hand of the Lord seems to be dealing with you very harshly, when your legitimate burdens seem overwhelming, and when you even feel alone in your circumstance. Humble yourself before Him – under His hand, or under the specific burden – and hand the matter over to Him in prayer. Trust that He cares even more than you do.

 

 

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The Requirement for Usefulness

November 13th, 2017

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:15-16 ESV)

Several people mentioned to me yesterday how much they appreciated the sermon on Joseph’s promotion. For years he had been locked up in confinement, and seemed to maintain his faith and servant attitude, but suddenly he was catapulted into national prominence. Yet this promotion did not go to his head, he did not become proud. Rather he learned to listen to others rather than speak himself. He was humble and wanted God to get the glory from his life.

Most of us can handle adversity easier than we can handle success. We learn to worship and serve the Lord, even though we are personally going through a difficult time. But when we receive a promotion, when God blesses our job or our ministry, then we are tempted to pride. We are tempted to lord it over others, to forget God, to become selfish and stingy. The one who tithes sacrificially on a meager salary, will be tempted to give less than a tenth when he gets a raise. We far too easily forget God’s goodness to us, and imagine that we do not need Him any more.

Joseph did not do this. His faith was as remarkable when he was experiencing advancement as when he was undergoing adversity. He was humble, God-centered, ready to serve others, not lustful over attention or the praise of men.

A requirement of all who God will use is a broken spirit. Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26 ESV)

When God called Paul, along with the call was a prophetic statement, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” We are unsure how much money Paul had – we know that sometimes he was in significant financial hardship, but we also know that he was always like this. Paul himself said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:11-12). He had learned – by the Spirit’s work in his life, by his challenging life calling, by the examples of other believers around him – the art of dealing with all circumstances.

Kipling has this marvelous line in his little poem “If” – “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” Paul learned, as we all should learn, that disaster does not remove God’s hand from our lives, and triumph does not remove our need to remain humble and faithful before Him. In all situations and conditions, the Christian’s goal must remain the same – that God would be glorified in and through our life.

There is no person in Scripture that God used in any significant way that He did not also break. He broke strong wills, egotistical mindsets, hedonistic lifestyles, self-centered agendas. He broke people that He might use them, and bless them. Brokenness leads to greater usefulness and greater joy than selfishness does. The selfish person is a miserable person. Harry Overstreet made the profound observation: “The ungiven self is the unfulfilled self.” We are made by God not to live selfishly for our own glory, but to be broken, humble, and poured out before Him.

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