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Humble Yourselves Under God’s Hand

Ray Waaraniemi | The Voice of Zion March 2022 --

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. — 1 Peter 5:6

God’s Word instructs people to be humble. In his first epistle, Apostle Peter exhorts to be “clothed with humility.” Other words for humility include lowliness and meekness. Those are familiar to us from the Bible. Words that are opposite to humility include arrogance, pride and conceit. These qualities dwell in our flesh, and in living faith we battle against them.

Humility does not typically come naturally to humans; arrogance and pride seem to come more naturally. Yet, life experiences can humble us all, removing pride and self-exultation. We can understand this to be God’s work, keeping us in childlike faith. The example of Jesus is our best lesson in humility.

What does it mean to be “clothed with humility?” We understand that to be clothed is to be covered, altering our appearance. Our speech, attitude, countenance, and actions can create impressions, perhaps making us approachable and down-to-earth or distant and above others. For one to be clothed in humility, one must put down the effects of the flesh that cause us to think ourselves better than another. Paul exhorts, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12).

Instructions of the Holy Spirit

Peter writes, “Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder” (1 Pet. 5:5). As we come of age, we are increasingly exposed to the ideals of the world. Naturally, humans have many questions about life and its purpose. Questions of living faith and the teachings of God’s kingdom often contrast with the teachings in the world. Philosophical teachings often promote self-reliance and independence, sometimes rejecting obedience to elders and those in authority. Doubts easily beset us and we may question the instructions from God’s kingdom. When this happens, it is important to put away sin and doubts and to humbly submit to instruction of the Holy Spirit. This respect for the Word of God is for all of us, at any age. Peter writes also, “Yea, all of you be subject one to another” (1 Pet. 5:6). We can understand the importance of this exhortation in that the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s children and the Spirit moves collectively through the believers to reveal the will of God.

Jesus Teaches Humility

Jesus teaches humility by His example and His words. The theme for the first Advent Sunday is “Your King comes in humility.” From one of the gospel texts we learn how Jesus entered into Jerusalem: “They brought [the colt] to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way” (Luke 19:36,37). Jesus chose to ride on the colt of an ass, a lowly beast of burden, not on a beautiful horse that would have been much more fitting for a king. He came in a lowly manner so that the weakest sinner, the sick and the poor could approach Him. Jesus had no interest in an earthly kingship. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36).

Jesus’ battle was not against kings or temporal governments, even though there would have been good reason to oppose them; His purpose, in coming to earth from heaven, was so much higher than temporal power and honor: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18).

These examples of Jesus are good for us to remember. We live in a time when there is unrest in the world and our communities. Political battles and critics of our governments are prevalent. We’ve been richly blessed to live in free countries where we have individual rights and freedoms. Especially precious is the freedom of religion, to worship and live as the Holy Spirit teaches. Most of us have never experienced oppression in our lifetime. Our freedoms are so normal to us that we expect to always have them – we even demand them. But we don’t know how long God will bless our nations with freedom.

Today, we enjoy more freedom and prosperity than many believers have had throughout the history of the world. God has allowed His children to live under the rule of oppressive kings and governments and even suffer slavery, e.g., the children of Israel in Egypt and Babylon. God allowed the children of Israel to lose their independence to foreign nations at different times because of their disobedience.

God’s Word Teaches Obedience

In our republic and parliamentary forms of government, we have numerous peaceful ways to voice our opinions on laws, regulations and policies. We have the right to disagree and to be critical of the actions of our governments without fear for our safety. As children of God, we should do so respectfully, in a spirit of meekness – asking the Holy Spirit to guide our activities – not in arrogance and pride.

Even when we disagree with laws or regulations, we should obey them if doing so is not sin. God’s Word teaches us to be obedient to the laws of our land: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Paul exhorts us to follow the example of Jesus, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5–8).

A Secure Dwelling Place

Jesus in His invitation to the tired and weary traveler described Himself as meek and lowly: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29). When Jesus comes the second time, it will not be in the lowly manner of His first coming. Instead, “Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).

May God help us to put down pride and keep us in childlike faith. May each of us accept the humble status that Jesus has given us: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). Sheep are not able to protect themselves from wolves, they rely on the shepherd’s protection and the security of the flock. We also, as humble sheep, are secure in the care of the Good Shepherd in His little flock. Come what may in this world, we have a secure dwelling place as God’s children.

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