Tag Archives: New Testament

Humility ~ Part 3

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In my last post, we looked at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh.  In this post, we turn to the Brit Hadashah to help us understand the characteristic of being humble.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Brit Hadashah [1]

Yeshua life provides the best example of what it means to have humility.  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29; see also 1 Corinthians 4:21 and Philippians 2:1-11).

Yeshua preached and taught often about the need for humility.  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11; 18:14)  “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:35)

Yeshua urged those who desired to live by Kingdom standards to practice humility.  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Matthew 18:1ff)

A person with humility does not look down on others.  Humility in the Brit Hadashah is closely connected with the quality of “meekness.”  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  (Matthew 5:5 ESV)

While God resists those who are proud, He provides grace for the humble.  “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  (James 4:6)

Primary in the Brit Hadashah is the conviction that one who has humility will not be overly concerned about his or her prestige.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)   “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16)  “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?” (2 Corinthians 11:7)

Sha’ul believed that quality relationships with other people, especially those who had erred spiritually, hinged on the presence of gentleness, meekness or humility (see Acts 20:19; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25).

Both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah affirm that God will exalt those who are humble and bring low those who are proud (see Luke 1:52; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Greek world abhorred the quality of meekness or humility, but the Christian community believed these qualities were worthy (see 2 Corinthians 10:18; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2).

A humble man is often looked upon as a coward, a cringing, despicable, slavish type of person.  Many men fear humility.  They feel humility is a sign of weakness and will make them the object of contempt and abuse; causing them to be shunned and overlooked.  This is tragic:

  • A humble spirit is necessary for salvation. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:3-4)
  • God’s idea of humility is not weakness and cowardice.

God makes people strong.  God infuses a new spirit within a person that causes them to conquer all throughout life.  He does not want the person walking around in pride.  He wants the person to do what the definition says: to offer himself in a spirit of submissiveness and lowliness; not to act high-minded, proud, haughty, arrogant, or assertive.

Humility has the strength to control and discipline; and it does so at the right time.

  1. The humble person has a humble state of mind.
  1. The humble person has a strong state of mind.  It is not a weak mind that ignores and neglects evil and wrongdoing, abuse and suffering.
  • If someone is suffering, humility steps in to do what it can to help.
  • If evil is being done, humility does what it can to stop and correct it.
  • If evil is running rampant and indulging itself, humility actually strikes out in anger.
  1. The humble person has a strong self-control.  The humble person controls his spirit and mind.  He controls the lusts of his flesh.  He does not give way to ill-temper, retaliation, passion, indulgence, or license. (see James 1:21)

In summary, the humble man walks in a but strong state of mind; denies himself, giving utmost consideration to others.  He shows a control and righteous anger against injustice and evil.  A humble man forgives and lives for others because of what Yeshua has done for him.

In my next post, we will explore a concept related to the characteristic of Humility:  Submission and Surrender?

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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The Doctrine of Separation Examined

There are so many destructive teachings that are simply corruptions of actual truth.  One of those is the doctrine of separation.  Practiced within the more independent and fundamental sects of Christianity, this doctrine is mainly derived from 2 Corinthians 6:17, ” Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you…” The idea is that if one group does not agree with another in all areas, then association is considered sinful, or at least liberal.

I personally believe that this has been taken way too far within the body of Christ.

A few Sundays ago I was at a church where a missionary was speaking.  I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say.  What disappointed me was what was on his prayer card.  Listed on the back, in his statement of beliefs, was the “doctrine of separation.”  However, during the message that he preached, he spoke of how it was good to be able to talk to a Charistmatic believer in Mongolia.  He spoke of how it was good, in a land that so few missionaries frequented, to find anyone to talk to that was a Christian.  But when it came to working together, that was a different story.

Years ago, in 1992, I was given the opportunity to travel to Romania for a month.  Long story short, in order to do some first-time evangelical work in a small village, two other young guys and myself were priviledged to hire a young interpreter to help us.  Actually, he was helping a Pentecostal church group rebuilding grain silos during the day.  Because he was free in the evening, he helped us.  He even helped us make friends with the Pentecostal group.  We didn’t have services together, but we did get to have friendly contact.  Ultimately, because of this unplanned cooperation (the Church of God folk paid the interpreter for us) around 80 souls came to accept Christ as their Saviour in one week.

When I got back to the U.S., thoughts crossed my mind about how Baptist missionaries could develope ways to work together with other Christian missionaries in third-world countries, especially where the work was great.  Pooling local resources and manpower for mutual benefit seemed something totally logical to me; but not to BIMI, the mission agency with which I had traveled.  Unlike Southern Baptist missionaries, independent Baptist missionaries have to raise their own funds to reach the field and to stay there.  To me it seemed that being able to work with other Christians to accomplish like goals was a no-brainer, but not according to the doctrine of separation which BIMI held true to, as do most independent Baptists with which I have been aquainted.

The belief that Christians cannot work together, worship together, or evangelize together to reach a common desired goal is crazy.  There are areas that make Baptists (of which I am) different from other denominations, and rightfully so.  These differences, however, are more often than not of little eternal significance.  Baptists believe in baptism by submersion, for instance, while Presbyterians normally do not.  Is that worth saying that when it comes to winning the lost for Christ that we must remain separate in all things?  Even if a friend of mine is a five-point Calvinist, does that mean that I can’t walk down a street with him as we both preach salvation through Jesus alone?  I like what article XIV of the 2000 edition of theBaptist Faith and Message has to say on the subject:

Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extention of Christ’s Kingdom.  Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.  Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.”

When it comes to the legalists and the Pharisaical crowd that promotes separation to the extent of mutual exclusion, finger pointing and self-glorification (i.e., “I am right with God and you are not, because you don’t believe the same as me.”), maybe isolation isn’t that bad.  More people than not, I truly believe, think that working together for the greater good of the Kingdom is biblical.  Only a small minority of so-called “fundamentalists” within the Christian faith feel otherwise.  However, the problem is not so much that we believe that working together is good as long as there is no compromise, it’s getting us to actually DO it.  Let the “separatists” stay separate if they wish, but let the rest of us unite where possible to form a true Nation of Christians, the body of Christ.

Say what you will about the “herd mentality,” but it is the loners that the lions and wolves look for first.  There truly is strength in unity.

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