Pride Before a Fall, Humility Before Grace

8:30 AMHeather

Waving the white flag.  Surrendering.  To others.  To service to others.  To the Lord.  Such an ongoing struggle.  It's the root of my daily wrestling match...my will versus submitting to the will of the Lord.  Putting myself first--look out for number one.  Versus Christ's example of serving others and surrendering to such service.  I have my days of minor successes.  And, then, my own ugly agenda rears its ugly head and I work once again to tame the beast of my own selfish ambition.

In this life, I believe this wrestling match will continue.  The good news that I embrace?  If I'm still struggling and striving, then I'm still at least working toward the act of surrender.  I'm still making attempts to remember that the last shall be first.  If I'm still working at it, then it's still a priority.  And, it's part of life as an alien in this world--my citizenship is in heaven.  In this journey of grace, I've found a pretty key truth...something simple yet so profound that I'm not sure I've even begun to wrap my brain around it.

James sums it up for us in James 4:6:

God gives grace to the humble.

There you have it.  God gives "hen" or favor to the humble.  God gives "hesed" or loving kindness (favor upon favor) to the humble.  God gives "charis" or unmerited favor to the humble.  In other words, humility precedes God's favor and grace.  We cannot put the cart before the horse.  We so often want God's favor--his outpouring of grace on our lives and our endeavors--without humility.  I believe we would call that practice entitlement.  

This truth from James sums up so well what I've been digging out of the Old Testament these last nearly 5 months as I've looked at God's favor.  Because over and over again, we see God's people humble themselves to their God--and to others--and God pours out favor.  Humility is not to be seen as a means to an end.  No, true humility is realizing our own dependence on God.  Our need for Him.  Seeing how small we are compared to how BIG He is.  Wanting Him and His plans more than our own.  Choosing His way over our way.  Choosing to put ourselves aside.  

Glimpse of grace:  Nehemiah got it.  He was a humble man.  The cup bearer of the king.  An honored and important position.  But, he wasn't fluffed up with his own status.  No, he was heart broken for the destruction of his beloved Jerusalem and the current state of affairs for the Israelites.  And, so, he humbled himself before the king.  But, before he said a word--he prayed.  Nehemiah 2:5 tells us that Nehemiah approached the king and then...

...I prayed to the God of heaven, and [then] 
I answered the king.

When my heart is heavy, when I need the help of someone else--do I pray to the God of heaven before I utter a word?  Do I preface my responses to others by praying to God BEFORE I speak?  

The book of Nehemiah beautifully expresses the story of a man whose heart was set on serving the Lord.  He was a man of prayer.  He sought the Lord.  And, the result?  Humility.  He saw his own status compared to the greatness of His God.  And, Nehemiah's heart was broken for what broke God's heart--the state of God's people.  Nehemiah called out the wrong and brought justice.  He lead wisely.  Through his leadership, amazing things were accomplished as the walls of the city were rebuilt.  Because of Nehemiah's humility, God's grace was poured out freely.

In Nehemiah 5:19, Nehemiah says, "remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people."

That I may serve Him today with this attitude.  Remember me with favor, O my God.  That I would go through my day so that everything I do would be pleasing to Him--for His favor.  Submitting my agenda to His.  Choosing to humble myself to His purposes for me.  Then, and only then, will grace abound.  

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