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Entries in Humility (3)


A subject most people don't want to hear about

Every morning, when I have my Bible reading and prayer time, I read from The Valley of Vision. It really is a wonderful volume. While the Puritans didn't do everything right, their devotional reflections reveal so much humility.

From this morning's passage, "Things Needful," I read these words:

I need spiritual comforts
that are gentle, peaceful, mild, refreshing,
that will melt me into conscious lowliness before thee,
that will make me feel and rest in thee as my All.

I thought about that phrase "conscious lowliness." That's not a topic most people want to think about. We tend to have a negative view of lowliness. When I read those words, though, I immediately thought of Paul's exhortation in Philippians 2. Lowliness is something Christ demonstrated to us, and it's something we are encouraged to pursue.

Lowliness goes against the grain of popular thinking. Lowliness is seen as weakness. But it's not the same thing. Some of the strongest people are the most lowly. Christ himself was lowly. Lowliness is not about strength; it is about who or what we are exalting, and whose will we are pursuing. If we pursue our own will above God's, that is not lowliness. If we constantly draw attention to ourselves, that is not lowliness. If we live as if we control our own destiny, that is not lowliness.

How do our daily lives reflect a desire to be lowly? What kind of activities foster lowliness? How do we demonstrate lowliness in our relationships with others? Our families? Our jobs? Our local church? When I think about my day, and how I spend my time, what can I trim away in order to focus on conscious lowliness? Off the top of my head, one thing that I need to do is speak less and listen more; offline and online. I can't help but think what a deterrent to lowliness Twitter can be.

More and more I'm beginning to see that lowliness and contentment are related. When I pursue lowliness, I'm not pursuing the exaltation of myself; I am directing my thoughts and energies to God. Actively seeking lowliness encourages me to yield to God's will, and it is in this yielding to God's will where I can find the most contentment. Yielding to God's will is the way to have my heart's desires changed. Lowliness doesn't mean we are weak; it just means we are recognizing the reality of who we and who God is.


"As a pastor, it's tempting..."

Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of sitting under the preaching of a wonderful man of God. The quiet, rather shy man from Oklahoma was the first preacher I, as a new Christian, heard preach in an expository manner. I found his preaching challenging, and his character humble and gentle.

I was surprised when my husband told me that our dear pastor had confided to him that as a pastor, he found it tempting to feel pride when people complimented him on his sermons. He was very concerned thay he not become vain or egotistical, and while he was gracious when complimented, he was uneasy with it. He rightly recognized that getting up in front of a congregation weekly (even our tiny one) was tempting to a man's pride.

How much greater is the temptation in a bigger church? Or the well-known pastor who has regular podcasts or whose sermons are viewed online across the world by thousands he will never meet? Or the man who has people hanging on his every tweet or blog post?

I'm thankful for that man of God, for his honesty and wisdom, and his desire for humility. Would God raise up more like him.


Why the internet should make us humble

A while ago, I was checking my Twitter feed, and as I scanned the variety of items calling for my attention, I felt a little overwhelmed.

An article to encourage young moms; a book review; an article highlighting why I should care about a "Christian" movie made in Hollywood; an article highlighting why I shouldn't care about a "Christian" movie made in Hollywood; news from the Ukraine; news from Afghanistan; news from South Africa about a man who is on trial; a funny picture of a dog wearing an article of clothing.

Information everywhere; we're inundated with it. In days gone by, newspapers only came out monthly or weekly, because technology did not allow for this constant hum of noise. Information can be good. But infomation isn't understanding, so we must be careful to know the difference.

Then I think of blogs. This little space here is fun for me, and I'm grateful for it. I love to write. But having a blog space can trick me into thinking I have the right to say something without knowing what I'm speaking about.  It can fool me into thinking I know more than I do.

I could sit here, make an assertion, scour the internet for supporting articles, and seem like I know what I'm talking about. And all without even putting more than a couple of hours into the project.

In recent days, I have been reading books by and about Lucy Maud Montgomery. In addition to the books themselves, I've been reading critical works. As I have read,  I've begun to recognize the names of the Montgomery scholars.

Mary Rubio is one of the pre-emininent scholars, and the author of the best Montgomery biography. Rubio has spent years researching. Years.  All of the scholars I have confrontred have worked for years, and focus on very specific facets of their topic. As I watch my own daughter working toward her PhD, specializing in American noir fiction, I see the amount she reads. I see the work she puts in gaining understanding and mastery. This is the anthithesis of what often happens on the internet where hyperlinks distract us.

What the internet ought to reveal to us is how small we are. As we read stories of places like Ukraine and Afghanistan, we should be mindful of the fact that 500 years ago, most people would have known little (or nothing) about those places, let alone see day to day information coming out of them. That missing Malaysian Airlines plane? Most people would have heard about it weeks, months, or even a year later. Now, we see minute by minute glimpses into places on the other side of the globe, places we will never see. We live the reality of a "global village."

This should inspire humility. As we view the vast arry of information, it should communicate to us loud and clear that we don't know everything. We don't even know a fraction of what there is to know, whether our topic of choice is theology or L.M. Montgomery. We cannot presume to say we are an expert in anything simply by having access to the internet. Instead, we should see clearly how vast the world is, and how small we are. Just when we think we have written a profound blog post, a few clicks later will show something better. Just when we think we've read "the must read" of the year, three weeks later, a new book will be released, and we will be confronted with a "must read" again. 

The internet reminds me of the fleeting nature of earthly things, no matter how good they are. 

I find it encouraging to know that no matter how long I live, there will always to more to discover. I love the internet for that reason. It shows me just how much there is to learn. It ought to inspire me to humility in what I say and to be careful that I don't promote myself as an expert of any kind.