When we consider the sinful world in which we live, we can easily see the ways in which we are all broken. We share in common the impact of that brokenness on our personal expectations as well as in our dealings with the people in our world, our workplaces and in our wandering around in life’s colosseum. Though there can be a tendency to minimise the brokenness, even disregard it at times as a reality, for those bold enough to admit the truth regarding their lack of completeness and embrace humility towards God there is a huge and vital step to experiencing freedom and spiritual victory. It is the act of humility in coming to God in the first place that opens the way. From one perspective we could view the brokenness we experience as a means that puts us at a point close to humility – something that delights the Lord’s heart – if we only reach out to God. Then it is not merely an attempt to simply ‘try harder,’ develop ‘new skills’ or find other human means of overcoming our brokenness. Inspiring though these human stories can be they do not get to the root cause of our brokenness in the first place.
Now the writer of the book of Hebrews outlines that faith is necessary to please God and it is based on the understanding that God rewards those who diligently seek him (Heb 11:6). This searching for God rather than a throwing up of our hands in disgust or resignation places us on the right pathway to discovering and benefiting from the work of God through Jesus, as well as being connected to the ongoing mission of God. You never experience the depths of God’s heart when standing on the outside waiting for him to do you bidding. It is when we put our faith in God’s hands we find the experience of his connection in very real and often powerfully unexpected ways. The act of humility is necessary, where acting upon the faith we place in God and the work and person of Jesus we find that he fulfils the needs of those who seek his kingdom and its mission.
Peter (1 Pet 5:5-6) and James (Jam 4:4-10) both reflect on the need for humility in our relationship with God. Peter points out that God resists the proud but embraces the humble one. This humility means delighting in others, even when they provide a greater impact than presently we are experiencing. As Peter draws attention to, God is likely to exalt the humble person also. We simply need to have this life rhythm firmly in place so that in God’s timing and purpose he might use us as, and when, he sees fit. We can only live in the moment of time we have now but what we do now, done well and in a manner that pleases God, builds into a wonderful legacy from which others can learn and receive inspiration. It may also result in us gaining the place of wonder and deeper influence in God’s mission. James likewise expresses the thought that God opposes the proud and will lift up the humble. He also mentions that we shouldn’t give attention to the worldly values of our brokenness which ultimately puts us in the place of being God’s enemy – friendship with the world means you are an enemy of God. Strong language to make the point clear that we must live our lives in submission to God’s will and purpose.
The early church was young and inexperienced, and we could probably find a long list of immature behaviour and lack of vision for the fullest picture of Jesus’ commandment. But this would overlook the unity and endeavour, the zeal and boldness that the Holy Spirit empowered believers exercised in their lives and ministry. Sure, the book of Acts is a brief snapshot of the early church but it is like those old photographs we have on the sideboard or in the photo albums or plastered on our walls…they show what it was like at some point and tell a reasonably accurate picture of the time. It reminds us that God uses broken people, empowered by his Holy Spirit, humbling accepting his work of grace to build his kingdom. What was true for the early church is equally valid for followers of God in the twenty-first century. To be used of God requires us to be humble. This doesn’t mean avoiding responsibility or leaving it to someone else because we judge them to be better qualified – the truth is you can always find someone who does better than you what you do well. It does mean doing our part in humility to add the fullness God’s body has when it works and walks in unity. A clear recognition of our brokenness and limitations, together with a positive acceptance of help – even asking for help – is a great place to launch towards and experience the victory and power of God.
Bless your humble godly service.