One of the funny stories in our family regards the emerging independence of my youngest daughter. When she was a toddler and we were getting ready to go out to play on a snowy day, we found her crying in frustration on the porch. She had her coat upside down and backwards, her feet in the hood as she attempted to put it on. When Bev attempted to help she famously insisted – “I can do it myself!” Today she is a strong and capable woman who makes her Dad proud as she works to make this world a better place for us all. She has done a remarkable job with life in all the years since then, albeit now with more understanding of creating teams and getting the work done together.
In my readings in Genesis I came to the story of Babel in the 11th chapter. This was the declaration of the people. “Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies—a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.” (Genesis 11:4, NLT) At first glance, one might wonder why the LORD responded as He did. He frustrated their plans by confusing their language, breaking them apart. The implied conclusion is that they not only wanted to make a city but were prideful, ready to dismiss God and His plans in favor of their own independence.
Let’s not race to the conclusion that God resists success and/or accomplishment. He equips us with resources, blesses us with creativity, and rewards faithfulness. There is no sin in achievement!
The sin that often accompanies success is that of pride that dismisses Him. James warns of it, even among Christians. “What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:5-6, NLT) “Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, NLT)
Are you telling the Lord that you can handle life on your own?
Most likely none of us would do that in so many words, but what do our actions say? When we plan first and pray second, we are revealing pride. We can refuse the counsel of the Word and the guidance of the Spirit and still find temporary success, even gaining the approval and admiration of others. But, in the long run, we ignore God to our own peril. Few things create a more fertile soil for arrogance than a little success. A subtle conceit can settle over us when we conclude that we are someone special, that we have done what others would not or could not do.
Beware a false humility that proclaims weakness even while fishing for approval! To demand that God somehow bless our apathy or failure to apply ourselves to His work even as we claim to be without spiritual gifts is an affront to Him. He has called each of us to a place in His service, given us unique gifts to fulfill His calling. We are not all called to be highly visible leaders or given gifts that are used in a public platform, never the less, we are all critical to the function of His Body, the church.
Genuine humility is content in the Lord, knows the joy of submission, and rests on solid faith.
Striving and Self die and a beauty of significance found in the service of the Lord emerges.
Here is a word from the Word. “And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7, NLT) Amen
Build My Life
(As you listen, give your life to Him, the Builder)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You, We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
Brett Younker | Karl Martin | Kirby Elizabeth Kaple | Matt Redman | Pat Barrett © 2016 Martin, Karl Andrew (Admin. by Arkyard Music Services Limited) Kaple Music (Admin. by Bethel Music Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing
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