James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. NKJV
My past two blogs have been centered around the idea that we foster, that in order to be humble before God, we must somehow decrease that He must increase. In this blog, I want to look at what humility looks like, in the face of success, with some biblical figures we are all familiar with.
I want to start with Daniel. Those of us who are familiar with the word of God are familiar with Daniel. He is well known as the prophet who told the Gentile kings the interpretations of their dreams. The first time he did so, the king had threatened to kill all the wise men, magicians, and astrologers, which included Daniel, because of a troubling dream. As a matter of fact, the king didn’t even remember the dream, yet, he wanted them to tell him what he dreamed and what it meant. When his astrologers and wise men said that they couldn’t do it, and no one could, he ordered their deaths. Daniel heard about it, and to spare his life and the lives of his friends, they fasted and ask God about the dream. When Daniel reported to the king to share the dream, he said these words:
Daniel 2:30 – “But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart. NKJV
Prior to this verse, Daniel had already given the honor to God, who knows the secrets of every heart. He wasn’t looking for anyone to think that he thought he was something special, but had come to share the dream and the interpretation of the dream as God had shown him. What he did was pretty spectacular. The king was so impressed he fell prostrate before Daniel and wanted to make an offering to him. He also placed Daniel in a high position and lavished gifts on him. But Daniel knew who the real interpreter was, and he never forget Him! And God exalted him!
David was another man who demonstrated what it meant to be humble before the Lord. He was the giant killer who killed his tens of thousands. He was the king who brought unity to Israel. He was the leader of the mighty men. Yet, he understood that even so, it was because of God.
2 Samuel 7:18-19 – “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God ? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” NKJV
David said that what God had done for him was a small thing in His sight, but David knew it for the great favor that it was. I met a Jewish believer when I was a teenager. Without thinking, I said, “Why is your name David? That’s not a Jewish name!” He said, “Are you kidding me? You don’t know about King David, the great king of Israel?” I went, “Oops!” (What was I thinking)! Even today, he is heralded as the king of Israel. David knew that God had exalted him above his enemies and his own desires. It’s what happens when humility is truly demonstrated.
Peter also demonstrated humility after having been used mightily of God. The lame man at the gate called Beautiful, and others, were ready to fall at his feet and worship him. Why? Because the man had been lame and begging for all of his life. And with a few words, he was made completely whole. Peter had to put that to a stop!
Acts 3:11-12 – “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? NKJV
Peter knew he didn’t heal the man, although the Spirit of God healed the man at Peter’s words. The old Peter might have responded differently, but this anointed Peter, showed much humility. He didn’t take God’s glory, because it didn’t belong to him. Anymore than it belongs to us. You can do wonderful things for God, even be successful, without belittling yourself, and still give Him all the glory!
Acts 18:24-26 -Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. NKJV
I asked the Lord for an example and He gave me Apollos. What we may not have paid attention to is the effective ministry that Apollos had amongst the Gentiles. On at least five different occasions Paul referred to Apollos’ ministry, placing it in the same category of his ministry and Peter’s ministry. Yet, when Apollos met Aquila and Priscilla, and they shared about Jesus, he readily listened, changed his message, and continued to preach. That’s humility! He wasn’t concerned about his reputation, or his prominence amongst the Gentiles, just the message of the Messiah. It was of Apollos that Paul wrote that he planted and Apollos watered, but God got the increase!
I give you Jesus! The Bible states:
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8 – NKJV
Never once did He think less of Himself. Yet everything Jesus said and did was a witness to the position of humbleness that He displayed before the Father. He became obedient even to the point of death. He bowed His will to that of the Father, and died for us. In spite of the utter shame the cross held, in spite of the devastation to His physical body, in spite of the lies and being ridiculed, He humbled Himself. And He was highly exalted, and given a name above every name!
Fellow believers! Each of these individuals humbled themselves before God, whether they said it or not. Each of them honored the Father above themselves. Each of them realized that the success that they had or was having was due to the Father, not to them. They did great exploits for the Father! He used them to do those things, but they gave Him all the honor and all the glory!
It is possible to be a success in what you do, and give God the honor due Him, without sounding flaky and seeing yourself as a wretch. Paul even referred to himself as the least of all the brethren, which we would probably differ with. Yet, I don’t see that “poor wretched” mentality, I just see that he didn’t think more highly of himself than was necessary. If some of us accomplished what Paul did, we’d want a whole lot more money and fame and service than he received. Looking for the exaltation of others. But Paul was humble in what he did because he did it for Christ, only for Christ! That’s really the bottom line! Keep it all in perspective as to whom we are doing it for, and our hearts will remain humble. Then He will exalt us! Wonderful Jesus!