Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1-3
Prisoner of the Lord
In truth, we are prisoners to one thing or another…
…you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness…”
Christ has called us to be His prisoner, His slave. Not to selfishly Lord over us, but to help us become all we were created to be; to taste (as much as is possible on this earth) the fellowship Adam gave up and all the joy and peace that comes with it. Not just for the purpose of blessing, but for His glory. For at the most basic and fundamental level, when creatures do that for which they were created, it glorifies, honors and proclaims the greatness of God.
We were created to “worship God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Confession). The most sinful, carnal man has this yearning within him – this unfulfilled part of His being that cries out to be satisfied. Unmet, it can become angst, melancholy and any manner of self-indulgence. As a sinner, we attempt to appease it with sin. We buy. We consume. We medicate. We seek physical pleasure. We seek the love of others, success, praise, physical perfection. We indulge in various forms of entertainment, sex, drugs, alcohol. We acquire knowledge, money, and possessions. All of these, though, are merely substitutes for enjoying, learning of, being loved by and worshipping God. None of them truly fill that space. The gratification is momentary and then it is on to the next thing, because the truth is that we were not made to be satisfied by anything but fellowship with God.
Yet, even as believers, we attempt to sate our appetite with substitutes…we settle for the shadow rather than the reality. We call a friend for advice rather than going to God in prayer. We seek comfort from others forgetting that God has sent us The Comforter. We fill our time and minds with sports, movies, useless trivia, hobbies and limit the time we invest in the eternal to whatever we can squeeze in before work in the morning.
I could go on and on…
But why do we do this?
The answer borne out in scripture, in fact the root of all sin is one thing…Pride.
The simplest definition of pride that I’ve heard is this: contending for supremacy with God. Indeed, whenever we place our own wants and desires, thoughts and feelings, choices and plans before Him…we are acting pridefully, saying that what we want, think or feel is more important than what God wants, says or desires in any given situation. In those moments we are refusing to acknowledge our dependence on Him…our position as creatures. We are saying that we are the masters of our respective destinies…that we are self-sufficient.
No wonder there is no sin God hates more or that He calls one with a prideful heart an abomination.
Outside of the blood of Jesus, we are wretched, disgusting creatures, full of ourselves and reveling in our rotting flesh. Because of Christ, though, we are seen as Holy and Perfect, not because we are or we have somehow earned it (not even by our faith as believers), but because of the holiness and perfection of another, namely, Christ.
If Christ is the standard, then what exactly is His example?
“…but [he] made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. (Phil 2:7-8)”
Made himself nothing…form of a servant…obedient to the point of death.
This is the standard. And, if pride is the root of all sin then its antidote is the root of all righteousness. This antidote is humility.
“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. (Stuart Scott)”
So, how do we become that which we so emphatically are not? That which I am daily shown my inability to choose? The same way I handle anything that is beyond me…I go to the one who can.
“for with man it is impossible, but with God ALL THINGS are possible. (Mk 10:27)”
We are not left to our own devises here or left with merely the knowledge of our inability to be truly humble. In His kindness, God has given us His word and the example of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit AND the promise that we can be holy as He is holy…humble as Christ is humble.
Lord, help my unbelief in the face of my pride. Show me more that I might become truly convinced of my need of you. Make it a stench to me that I might then sacrifice all of me as a fragrant offering to you, for your glory. Teach me your ways…let me learn of you…learn the lesson of the Lamb that was slain, of the Son of God who washed the feet of His disciples…of the King of Glory who was born a man and walked among us…of the Creator who became the Sacrifice.
Resources on humility: Humility by Andrew Murray and From Pride to Humility by Stuart Scott