Are you a ‘cool’ Christian? That question was put to me by a speaker on the Abide (https://abide.is/) app that I am currently using for my nightly meditations. “Cool” is one of those words that is hard to define, but we know it when we see it. The person who is ‘cool’ is self-possessed, aware of her influence, who seeks approval but in a way that is detached so as not to be seen as ‘needy.’ The point made in that meditation remains with me this morning. To the extent that a Christian pursues being ‘cool’ he is not walking humbly before God! Think about that.
The centrality of humility in our relationship with the Lord is made clear by the frequency that Scripture speaks to it.
- Jesus spoke to the need with this paradoxical statement – “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4, NIV)
- Paul urges us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2, NIV)
- James does not qualify the command – “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10, NIV)
- Peter, likewise, directs us to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6, NIV)
Dig deeper and you will come to this conclusion:
Humility is an indispensable trait in the character of the godly. That is a theme that appears from Genesis to Revelation. Humility is presented as an irreplaceable quality that allows us to enjoy lives that are marked by peace with others. It dissipates anger. It facilitates forgiveness. It raises up the wounded and broken, viewing people as being worthy of respect. Humility allows us to strengthen our relationship with God because it removes our need to ‘have our own way,’ and brings us to bended knee and open heart before Him.
Some confuse humility with a lack of healthy self-esteem. But, in fact, those who have learned to be humble are those who best show their love for all persons, including themselves, in the best ways. Humility relieves us of anxiety because the humble has no need to pursue the ‘success’ image that is entrenched in American lore and society. The humble person is set free from the slavery that comes from trying to find worth and acceptance by pleasing others; in other words, trying to be ‘cool.’
Isaiah reminds us that “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).” (Isaiah 2:11-12, NIV) One of John’s themes in the Revelation is the judgment that will come to the prideful of the world when the Lord calls them to account.
Like all evidences of the Spirit’s life, humility is both a gift of God and something we must cultivate. Do you want to be relieved of ‘cool’ and become humble?
First step is to acknowledge Christ as Lord: not just once, but daily. Make a confession of His lordship, His rule, His ownership of your life part of your morning prayer. Almost everyday, among the first thoughts in mind is a prayer – “Lord, this is your day, I am your servant. May You be honored by my thought, word, and action.” (Sin being what it is, I fall short of that aspiration too frequently!)
Second step is honest confession of need, of sin, of reliance on His grace and goodness. I am a Christian for over a half-century, have preached the Word for 4 decades, but I am still a child before my Father; absolutely dependent on the Holy Spirit moment by moment. That is not weakness, that is humility. Without the life of the Spirit actively working in me as I yield myself to Him, I cannot please God. Nor, my friend, can you.
Paul’s familiar word reminds us of this. Given great gifts and deep revelations of spiritual truth, Paul was apparently tempted to go it on his own. “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NLT)
If you think you are capable of living for Christ Jesus without daily dependence, without real prayer, without learning the Truth of the Word, without remaining in close fellowship with other Christians – you are deceived by pride, likely attempting ‘cool’ Christianity, an impossibility. If you pray for humility to be created in your life, prepare for struggle! And then, bow your head, open your heart, and learn to lean, like a child, on the complete sufficiency of the Father.
Here is a word from the Word. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT) Do you believe that? Now, humbly live it.
Be Thou my vision
O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought
By day or by night
Waking or sleeping
Thy presence my light