Photo credit goes to NASA.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
I woke up this morning to a dream. That’s unusual for me, to dream at night. A couple years ago I asked the Lord to let my brain be quiet at night and give me rest and He has ever since, well, except for one night when I asked to be allowed to dream again and it was not a good dream, so I asked that He please let me go back to quiet rest! Maybe I dreamed this morning because we just watched Star Wars. But then why would I wake up with a verse on my mind because of it? “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
My dream was a battle of good and evil. It was me battling an evil source. But I wasn’t doing it on my own. It was an evil source I used to be afraid of. But I wasn’t afraid anymore because something was different about me. I wasn’t battling on my own. I was battling in the power of Someone else. It was the power of the Lord and I was fighting for Him, or more upholding, and He was fighting for me and in me and putting things into perspective.
And I don’t remember the whole dream, but I remember thinking about how we view ourselves, and sin, and pride, and the effect of the lack of humility on whether we have victory in Christ or not. And I’m starting to wonder about the depth of what this verse means. Because I think that my walk and anyone’s walk with the Lord is absolutely tied in to our humility or lack of before You, Lord. So, in that case, it’s imperative that I understand what You are suggesting here.
Now, the truth is that You didn’t necessarily orally speak these words to Peter to say to us. But, Peter was so influenced by Your Spirit in his life that he had come to know this truth. Peter had learned, well, even was still learning, the importance of humility in his own life. He’d seen the fruits of learning to give up his own way and own thoughts and submitting himself fully into Your hands and Your power. He’s seen how You were in Him in ways he had never imagined and how You were changing him more and more every day. He had learned so much and was still learning to cast, to throw forcefully, all his cares and anxieties and distractions on You and to accept Your answer, Your way of taking care of things. He learned and was still learning that he mattered immensely to You and that the way You wanted him to handle the things of his life mattered immensely to You and that You were fully capable of handling them all the right way for him.
So am I learning that? Have I really begun to learn that as much as I ought to? I mean what does this humility that You desire, Lord, in us look like? Peter tells us it looks like me caring about feeding the flock of God. I ought to care about nourishing others in You. I ought to care whether my brothers and sisters in Christ are being encouraged in You or not, and I ought to be a part of that encouraging. I ought to care if I have a lost brother or sister out there who doesn’t even know he/she is a brother or sister to be. I ought to willingly care for them both, not because I ought to, but because I am genuinely concerned for them. They ought to be on my mind and in my heart.
Humility is not being holier than thou. It’s not lording my knowledge over anyone else. It’s living an example. It’s walking Your walk and not just talking Your talk. I must be an example to the flock and an example in and among the flock.
Now, here’s an interesting thing. Peter encourages the younger believers to submit to the elders. Sometimes, oh how we grasp onto that thought of the younger submitting to the elder. But we miss the next sentence that follows. “Yes, ALL OF YOU be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility.” So maybe to understand humility, I must also understand submission, who I am called to submit to, and what that submission looks like. For the warning is that Peter has learned that God resists the proud. How did he learn that? Through his own pride and the consequences thereof. And Peter has learned also the blessing of how God gives grace to the humble. How did he learn that? He humbled himself. Peter is speaking from experience here.
So why are we to humble ourselves? Because we are followers of Christ and a disciple is not above his master. “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him…” Philippians 2:8,9 Our Lord and Savior humbled Himself. I am called to humble myself. I am called to submit fully to God just as He did. I am called to submit to man where appropriate, just as He did. And imagine that, the God of the universe, Creator of these mere men, submitting to them in love for their benefit and to His pain and suffering. Imagine that! This is what we are called to, whether we are men or women.
This type of humility changes our lives. It’s not what mere men do. The Greeks abhorred this idea of humility. But God adores and establishes it. Who will I side with? Skip Moen restated this humbling in this way, “The road to glory passes through humbling ourselves and the way to humble yourself is to be obedient unto death.” Am I humble, truly? Would I be obedient unto death? What am I to be obedient about? How far am I from this truth, from this humility?
Do I submit to the extent You did, Lord? Do I daily and moment by moment make myself low, poor, and needy? Do I even see myself as low, poor, and needy? Does it bother me to make myself a slave for the benefit of others? Do I spend my time with the sick? Do I spend my time with the abused? Do I spend my time with the rejected? Do I spend my time with the poor? Do I spend my time with the desperate? Do I really care? You did, Jesus, and You still do. You cared so much, You became one of them. You became one of us. Unless I’m one of those humble souls, I don’t have You. Unless I understand my lostness, I can’t be found. You came to seek and to save the lost. You chose to live amongst the lost, to walk in the form of a lost one without being lost so we could be found. Imagine that!
If humility looks like that, if it looks like Your actions, am I really following You? Do I really care about the condition in the rest of the world? Do I really care about people? Do I really want to hug that little kid with snot all over his face because he can’t afford medicine. Would I eat food that a leper prepared and hug them and shake their hand. Would I enter that jail? Would I care for the homeless by serving them? Would I go wherever You asked? Would I even care to keep thinking about those You ask me to serve beyond my time with them? Would they still be on my heart so much that I was compelled to continue to meet their needs, that I thought of them day in and day out, that my heart longed for them?
Would I care more than tears about the children who are dying of worms or pneumonia because no one will help because their parents have no money? Would I just send money every now and then? Would I just ask people to pray when I got home and when I was about to go again? Would I just be as content being home and back to normal or would home and normal start to lack something? Would safety cease to matter? Would sending a check not suffice?
Peter learned that You, Jesus, were calling him to live like You. After all, we were created to be Your image bearers in this world. That’s more than a reflection in a mirror. That’s when You shine forth from within and without. Your image is the whole picture, it’s the real deal of who You are. It’s whether we are the real deal in You or not. You, the God of the universe touched the rotting and the sick and the sinner. You drank from the same water, slept on the same ground, picked food from the same field. You went to the bathroom the same way they did, wherever they did. Imagine that! My God used the bathroom because of His love for us! How humble is that for God?
My Jesus was a man of power. Yet He chose to use His power to give us value and worth and dignity. He chose to use His power to win us back, to serve us, to love us, to be with us, to adore us, and to teach us to do the same. He had no reason to respect us, yet He did. He had no reason to honor us, yet, how honoring is all of this! Can you imagine that? He listened. He heard. He held his anger. He loved faithfully. He touched. He spent time. He did it all for our benefit because He loved us that much. We didn’t deserve any of it. Not one bit. Am I getting the picture of what humility looks like and what it ought to look like in my life?
Humility can be defined partly by Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” You know, I’m pretty sure by the original words and language used here that this is a radical idea. This is about letting the other’s authority be held above your own. This is about valuing others more than you value your own life. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He valued us more than his own life. Do I value others that way? If not, then don’t let me fool myself into thinking that this little light of mine is shining. Jesus’ light isn’t little. His light shines in a radical way and all the darkness in the world can’t hide it. Maybe it’s time to examine myself and ask myself, “How’s my light shining? Who are people seeing? Am I glorifying the Lord or myself? Who do I look like, anyways?” And maybe it’s time that I fully humbled myself under the mighty hand of God and looked forward to His timely exalting. Jesus didn’t spend His time at the mall. I don’t want to either. I want to spend my time where You spend Yours, Lord. I want to continually learn to humble myself under Your mighty hand.