December is HERE!
It’s hard to believe for me, as I’m sure it is for you in many ways as well. In some ways, 2009 has been a great year. In others, a little of a disappointment. But all in all, still just can’t believe that another year has run its course and I am looking forward to seeing what 2010 holds.
And that’s what I want to use to introduce this blog entry. As we approach the month of December, I know you’re going to hear a lot about the Christmas story (and that is not a bad thing!), so I wanted to do something a little different with “Wesley Wednesdays” on here. As we get ready for 2010, there’s probably going to be some chatter about resolutions. One of mine is always to try and make my personal relationship with Jesus better than it was the year before. So over the five Wednesdays in December, I’m going to highlight what (for me, anyway) have become five essentials in cultivating my personal relationship with Jesus.
These are not meant to be an all-encompassing list. But these are five pretty good places to start:
Today, I’d like to take some time to focus on humility, which for me has a two-fold definition. On one hand, it involves putting the interests and what’s best for others ahead of our own, just as Christ did when he died for us (see Philippians 2:5-8
). But secondly, I believe that humility also contains this idea of understanding exactly who I am and (more importantly) who I am not
(that is, God… see James 4:10
). Being a humble person means that I’m going to have a teachable spirit, understanding that my way isn’t always the right or best way, and it also means that I’m going to think of others first. Humility and selflessness are very tied together in that way.
I know that this has been a big struggle area in my life as of late. Humility’s tough. But the Bible is pretty adamant about God’s people being ones who are defined by their humility. Personally, I think it’s the cornerstone of a relationship with God. By its very nature, a relationship with God means that I’m going to admit I am a fallen, sinful person who’s done some wrong stuff. It’s going to mean me admitting that I don’t have all the answers or the ability to save myself and that I need God’s help. Without humility, it’s impossible to come before God… the very nature of our relationship demands that!
But the example of Jesus ups the standard even more for humility. Before coming to the earth in the form of a baby boy, Jesus lived in heaven. He gave up a place more perfect than you or I could ever dream in the perfect, unbroken presence of God the Father and chose instead to embrace a life of being born in a crappy stable, only to eventually grow up and be killed in a violent, painful death by the people who said they loved God the most. That was a life that certainly doesn’t sound to be in Jesus’ best interests. Yet, because he was humble, he chose to embrace that life so that you and I could find grace.
I have a tendency to live my life without listening to the wisdom of the Almighty God. I want to do things my own way. I refuse to listen. I refuse to learn. I refuse to ask for help. I refuse to do things God’s way. I also have a tendency to do whatever I can to get whatever I want, with precious little care ever being given to the interests of others. Neither of those are very humble characteristics, and when I find myself in a rut spiritually, chances are that when I come back to the whole humility issue, I’ll realize how weak I truly am, and recognize how much wiser God is.
I really believe that humility is an essential foundation for a relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to encourage you to take some time over the next week (or month, or whatever) and think about how you are demonstrating humility in your life. The Bible tells us that God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I want to be a person who receives God’s grace.
And that means that I need to be a person who receives the teaching of humility.