SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 27, 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).
In the previous edition, we discussed HUMILITY as part of the Fruit of the Spirit. We mentioned that 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. This is important to remember because of the influence of the system of the world on many Christians. Instead of imitating Christ, many Christians have allowed the system of the world to teach us how to behave, especially as Christians in leadership positions within and without the church. In this edition, we shall continue from where we left off.
APART FROM THE WORLD TEACHING THAT IT IS GOOD TO TELL EVERYBODY WHAT WE HAVE OR WHO WE ARE, THE WORLD ALSO TELLS US TO BE ASSERTIVE BY DEMONSTRATING OUR POWERS AND AUTHORITIES ELSE WE WILL BE WALKED ON BY EVERYONE. This is also a direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches us. According to the Bible, Jesus laid down his position as God and became man in order to save mankind from sin and subsequently reconciled man to God. The sad reality among believers is that, many, if not most Christians, have embraced the philosophy of the world instead of imitating Jesus Christ. Many Christians of today can hardly lower themselves especially when they are in positions of authority such as being head pastors, bishops, prophets, chief executives and many other leadership positions, or being blessed with wealth. This is because we feel we should not allow ourselves to be walked on by anyone.
In most cases, we try to assert our authority by letting people know we are the ones in charge. Some Christians who have been blessed by God by being in positions of honor demand that people kowtow to them, and easily become offended when they are not given the honor due them. By so doing they end up becoming arrogant and boastful, not giving glory to God and others for how far they have come. Inasmuch as I will never advocate that people dishonor those in positions of honor, I would also like to encourage Christians in such positions to be patient even when people refuse to give them the honor due them. This is an attitude of humility. Those who fail to honor those who are in genuine positions of authority dishonor THE LORD who ordained such people. But THE FACT THAT WE FIND OURSELVES IN SUCH POSITIONS DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE SUPERHUMAN AND BEGIN TO BEHAVE AS IF WE MADE IT TO THE TOP BY OUR OWN HARD WORK, INTELLIGENCE OR CONNECTIONS.
Once again it is very important to remind ourselves of the humility of Jesus. In John 13:1-17, we find Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Peter knowing that Jesus, being the master, was not the one supposed to wash his feet wondered why Jesus did that. Jesus went ahead with what he was doing. He later told them to do the same for one another. This was not only to teach them to serve one another, but to humble themselves before even those who are lower in rank or status to them. He told them, and by extension all Christians, to imitate what he did by doing same for others. This means that Christians are supposed to be humble in our service both to the Lord and the people to whom we have been called to serve. This shows that service is very much connected to humility. It is impossible to serve without humility. Therefore Christians should be humble in our service to God and also to mankind. We are not supposed to always show the world we are in positions of authority by asserting our authority and demanding that people serve us always. That is pride, arrogance and boastfulness. Leadership is service, and service requires humility. That is who Jesus was and still is. He is the head of the Church but he humbles himself to serve us by coming to our level. In Mark 10:45, he teaches us a very important lesson about leadership.
“FOR EVEN THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY.”
If Christians in general and Christian leaders in particular will begin to understand that we have been called to serve and not to be served, we shall begin to change our attitude towards others and become more humble in our relationship with people, especially those in the household of Christ.
Let us remind ourselves constantly that the MASTER JESUS WE ARE FOLLOWING WAS HUMBLE IN HIS MINISTRY, WE SHOULD THEREFORE BE HUMBLE IN OUR MINISTRIES AS WELL.
Unfortunately this has not always been the case. Many Christians in positions of authority simply cannot humble themselves. In our positions as heads of families, teachers of children in schools or in church settings, leaders in churches, pastors, heads of organizations, political leaders and many more, we hardly humble ourselves. We always want to be served and to see people kowtowing to us. Sometimes we even punish people for not showing respect to us. This may be very important when dealing with children because it is important to teach them how to honor those who deserve honor. But is punishment the way to teach a child how to respect the elderly? I do not know the answer. What I know however is that we should not allow evil pride to reign in our hearts and become power-drunk as many leaders have now become.
A very important lesson we need to learn about humility is that its opposite will lead us to destruction. According to Scripture, pride is one trait every Christian MUST avoid. In the Book of Proverbs, we are told that GOD HATES PRIDE (Proverbs 8:13). We are also told that pride can lead us into destruction in Proverbs 16:18-19,
“PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION, A HAUGTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL. BETTER TO BE LOWLY IN SPIRIT AND AMONG THE OPPRESSED THAN TO SHARE PLUNDER WITH THE PROUD.”
The Scripture also teaches us that the main cause of Lucifer’s downfall was evil pride,
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit” < Isaiah 14:12-15.
This should remind us of the effect of our evil pride or lack of humility. If we fail to be humble in the positions where God has placed us, we should bear in mind that we may soon be cast out from those positions. We shall consider how to develop the right attitude towards humility in the next edition. But before we end this lesson, let us remind ourselves of something. Why is pride so sinful? Pride is sinful because it is the attitude of giving ourselves the credit for something that God has accomplished in us or through us. Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. Let us always remember 1 Corinthians 4:7
“WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU DID NOT RECEIVE? AND IF YOU DID RECEIVE IT, WHY DO YOU BOAST AS THOUGH YOU DID NOT?”
That is why we give God the glory — He alone deserves it. May we learn to be humble in our relationship with God and mankind!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.