SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 26, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
We have been learning about the Fruit of the Spirit for more than a fortnight now. We have talked about most of the components of the Fruit of the Spirit. In the previous edition, we studied about Faithfulness. We looked at faithfulness to God in ministry, faithfulness to God in the society and finally faithfulness to God in the family. I hope you found them helpful. In this edition, we are going to study about GENTLENESS as part of the Fruit of the Spirit.
It is important to say that the Greek word πρᾳότης praotēs, which is translated GENTLENESS is also translated HUMILITY or MEEKNESS. This is a very important Christian virtue associated with all the others we have so far looked at. In his commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke describes it as:
“MILDNESS, INDULGENCE TOWARD THE WEAK AND ERRING, PATIENT SUFFERING OF INJURIES WITHOUT FEELING A SPIRIT OF REVENGE, AN EVEN BALANCE OF ALL TEMPERS AND PASSIONS, THE ENTIRE OPPOSITE TO ANGER.”
This means that HUMILITY is an extension of patience and tolerance. It does not have any space for anger against other people even though they may cause injuries or harm in one way or another. It can also be described as the way by which one can lower ourselves in order to accommodate other people or circumstances. The best example of humility is demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Therefore he is the model for humility for every Christian.
The most classic description of Jesus’ humility is painted by Paul in Philippians 2. From verses 5, Paul exhorts believe to be imitators of Christ. A closer look at the text from verses 5-13, indicates that Paul is advising all believers to imitate the humility of Jesus Christ. Therefore for Christians to be truly humble, we have to focus on what Christ did and learn from that. Ephesians 2:5-8 says:
“IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER, HAVE THE SAME MINDSET AS CHRIST JESUS: WHO, BEING IN VERY NATURE GOD, DID NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO BE USED TO HIS OWN ADVANTAGE; RATHER, HE MADE HIMSELF NOTHING BY TAKING THE VERY NATURE OF A SERVANT, BEING MADE IN HUMAN LIKENESS. AND BEING FOUND APPEARANCE AS A MAN, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF BY BECOMING OBEDIENT TO DEATH — EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS!”
This is a clear indication that Jesus did not consider himself equal with God even though he has always been God. He put aside his position and took on the human nature and became man. He did not see himself superior to man, and even though he has always had power over death, he humbled himself by submitting to the control of death. This is beyond human understanding! It is clear that no one can be as humble as Jesus was, but it does not mean we cannot imitate the humility of Jesus. Paul knew we can. He imitated him and is calling on all of us to develop the same mindset with which Jesus humbled himself.
Jesus taught a practical example of humility in Luke 13:7-11. From what Jesus taught, we can learn that one’s humility is demonstrated when a person who is invited as a special guest to a takes takes a seat among the other members until he is asked to sit among the special guests. Humility can be seen in this case as an attitude of lowering one’s own position in the presence of other men. It is not what we see among many Christians of today who want to be seen by all men as special because of who they think they are. It is very important to understand that TRUE HUMILITY IS THE RECOGNITION THAT GOD AND OTHERS ARE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT WE HAVE AND WHO WE ARE NOW. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL OUR ACHIEVEMENTS; IT IS BY THE GRACE AND MERCY OF GOD. TRUE HUMILITY IS NOT PROUD OR HAUGHTY; NOT ARROGANT OR ASSERTIVE. IT IS A SPIRIT OF DEFERENCE OR SUBMISSION. A TRULY HUMBLE PERSON IS THE ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS 1 Corinthians 4:7,
“FOR WHO MAKES YOU DIFFERENT FROM ANYONE ELSE? WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU DID NOT RECEIVE? AND IF YOU DID RECEIVE WHY DO YOU BOAST ABOUT IT?”
True humility is a modest estimation of oneself. The Apostle Paul exhorts us once more in Romans 12:3 as follows:
“FOR I SAY, THROUGH THE GRACE GIVEN UNTO ME, TO EVERY MAN THAT IS AMONG YOU, NOT TO THINK OF HIMSELF MORE HIGHLY THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK BUT RATHER THINK OF YOURSELF WITH SOBER JUDGMENT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FAITH GOD HAS GIVEN YOU.”
Paul said this and quickly connected it the Spiritual Gifts and the Unity of the Body of Christ. This shows that humility is very important in the body of Christ where different people have different Spiritual gifts, yet forming and building the same body of Christ. Humility in the body of Christ in relationship to Spiritual Gifts ensures the continued unity of the body of Christ.
The various pictures and descriptions given about humility show that the Christian humility is opposed to the system of the world which the Apostle Paul exhorted us not to be conformed to according to Romans 12:2. What the world teaches is the exact opposite of what scripture teaches. According to scripture, we should not look highly upon ourselves but the world teaches us to look at ourselves as if we are on top of everyone. The world tells us to ‘sell’ ourselves if we want to be ahead. It tells us to tell everyone who we are, what we have achieved, and blow our trumpets to show how special we are. The world tells us to let everyone know how rich we are by what we wear, how we appear before people, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the places we eat and the foods we eat. The world even tells us to show how rich we are by the type of buildings we worship in, their interior and exterior designs. This is not to say that it is not good for a Christian to look good by dressing well, or eating good food and driving nice cars etc. It is good because God wants us to enjoy his blessings as his children. What is wrong about this however is the motive and the demeanor with which we attempt to demonstrate to the world who we are in the world not who we are in Christ. We are who we are now because of what Christ did for us on the cross. Paul said:
“MAY I NEVER BOAST EXCEPT IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THROUGH WHICH THE WORLD HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED TO ME, AND I TO THE WORLD.”
Many Christians often we fail to remember that we have nothing and can achieve nothing without Christ Jesus. The truth is that the acknowledgement of the fact that we are who Christ has made us makes us humble. A HUMBLE CHRISTIAN IS THE ONE WHO HAS THE RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF WHO HE OR SHE IS BEFORE GOD. HE OR SHE SEES HIMSELF AS NOTHING OR BEING ABLE TO ACHIEVE NOTHING WITHOUT GOD. LET US BE GOOD IMITATORS OF CHRIST BY BEING HUMBLE!
May the Lord grant us the grace to remain humble before him in all things! Expect a continuation of this topic in the next edition!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.