Your glory is too small a thing to live for.
It is not a good thing for God to oppose you. I, as a pastor, could not in any way recommend that you live your life in direct opposition to God. In fact, if I have any merit as a pastor, I ought to do everything in my power to help you live your life in a way that God sees as favorable. Can you imagine if I didn’t? “Hey, God says we shouldn’t lie, but I say, go ahead and do it if you need to. God says we shouldn’t worship idols, but I say, if it makes you happy, go for it!” I don’t think I’d have a job for very long.
However, those things make sense to us. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t worship idols. Those are pretty tangible. Most of us probably do our best to be honest folk. We probably don’t shop lift and we probably don’t have golden calves up in our living rooms. (If you do, we should talk.) Those are fairly tangible don’ts.
But, just as prevalent in the Bible is another don’t that isn’t as tangible and is one many of us are in danger of living in. That’s pride. It’s something that our culture celebrates. Public figures, especially politicians can be lauded for their “hubris.” What is hubris? “Excessive pride or self-confidence. Arrogance.”
So, how do we live as believers in a world that seems to be self-promoting? Well, let’s take a look at some of the key verses in the Bible that address this topic.
6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar. – Psalm 138:6
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. – Proverbs 3:34
23 Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor. – Proverbs 29:23
12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – Matthew 23:12
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble. – Luke 1:52
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – James 4:6
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
In fact, the very call to follow Christ begins with denying ourselves:
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
As usual, God’s way is pretty much the opposite of the world’s way of doing things. And, as much as we try, we can’t really mesh the two. We would like it if we could come to God on our terms, but when we attempt to do that we are really attempting to be God. In essence, we are saying: “I’ll do what you want as long as it’s what I want to do. But, there are things I want to do that are different from what you tell me to do, and when those things contradict what you tell me to do, I’m going to win.” God, for many of us isn’t in charge of our lives. God is merely something we have added to our lives to help us sleep better at night.
For us, at SixEight Church, humility is a very important aspect of who we are. It’s a part of our DNA. We have adopted Micah 6:8 as our mission. We want to be a church full of people who Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God. It would be easy to do the first two without ever addressing walking humbly.
The problem is, when we Do Justice without walking humbly we come across like legalistic pharisees who are only concerned about the rules. When we love mercy without walking humbly we run the risk of belittling those we would seek to help. To be able to Do Justice and Love Mercy we must be walking humbly with God.
We must walk humbly in our relationship with God. God is God and we are not. God has a perspective we don’t have. God created the entire universe and well as the system that it operates within. God wired human beings with a conscience. And he designed that conscience to work in a specific way. He is the creator, designer, author, sustainer and finisher of it all. When we truly understand how majestic God is in all of His glory, we cannot possibly be proud.
But, when we walk humbly with God, we also discover something else. When we are walking with God and not against God, we have the God of the universe with us helping us live the life exemplified for us in Christ Jesus. Now, instead of trying to Do Justice and Love Mercy in our own strength, we have the resurrection power of Jesus fueling our ability to live this life. Doing Justice becomes a natural outworking of who are in Him. Loving Mercy becomes the natural outpouring of the Love that is being poured into us.
How do we know if we are walking humbly?
I think there are few questions we can ask:
- How much time do I spend learning God’s ways to live?
- How much time do I spend trying to get God to approve my way of life?
- When reading the Bible, do you find yourself saying “I take that to mean…” and then justify your own point of view? Or, do you take God at his word and adapt your life accordingly?
- Do you Do Justice and Love Mercy for the way it makes you feel and the rewards you personally get out of it? Or are you seeking the redeem the image of God in those who are still living under the curse?
At the end of the day, it comes down to whose glory you are living for.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:11-12
Are you living your life for your own glory, or, are you living your life for the praise of His glory? Your glory is too small a thing to live for.