Tag Archives: humility

Happy Philippians

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice…In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.         Philippians 4:4, 6

The Bible is not a dull, dry book of theology.  It is not a book written primarily for preachers and seminary professors.  It is a story, a story of love and salvation, written for ordinary people.  It tells how we may be saved, and how we ought to live.

One of the interesting features of the Bible in this connection is the fact that some of the deepest doctrine in the Scripture is told for a practical purpose.  Philippians 2 contains one of those very passages.  It says that the Son of God did not regard “being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.”  Theologians have wrestled with the interpretation of that verse for centuries, but the important thing to remember is that Paul brings that subject up in order to teach the Philippians to be humble.  Just look at how deeply Christ humbled Himself, says Paul:  Let the same mind be in you which was in Him.  “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

In this same connection, Paul tells the Philippians always to be happy.  We say that we believe in an all powerful God, an all wise God, a kind and loving Father.   But when it comes to workaday living we worry, doubt, fear and fret.  The Philippians could “take it” from Paul when he told them always to rejoice, for they knew he was writing this letter to them from a jail.  They remembered, as they read this letter, that when he first visited their town he had been beaten and put in stocks, but he and Silas sang together at midnight when their bleeding backs would not allow them to sleep.  Does your religion mean much to you?

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Judgments and Judges

Then the Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of these raiders….But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers….                              Judges 2:16, 19

During the days between Joshua and the kings of Israel, law and order were at low ebb, and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  In such a situation God raised up men that were known as judges, whom we would think of as vigilantes, or defenders of justice and the oppressed.  Some of the more famous of these fifteen men were Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and Samuel.  All of us remember well the exciting feats that some of these men performed.

But the important thing in Judges is not the stories we were told about these heroes in Sunday school.  The important lesson of this book of the Bible is the recurring fact, repeated over and over, that when the people repented and lived in righteousness, they prospered; the minute they forgot about God, trouble ensued.  In dreadful monotony we read again and again that there was peace in the land for about a generation and then followed war, oppression, devastation, and trouble.

One cannot read the book of Judges without being struck by God’s endless patience and forbearance.  Time after time He would hear His people’s cry for help, and as soon as He put them on their feet they would forget Him again.  It makes one think of the lines in Lamentations, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction…”  (3:22, 23, 32)

Judges is a picture of almost every nation, with a war in every generation.  What a shame that we have to learn humility and dependence the hard way!

We Are Saints

He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.      Hebrews 10:14

It is impossible to make progress in the Christian race unless a person realizes that he or she is a saint in Christ.  Can you imagine cheerleaders encouraging a team yelling, “Let’s go, losers”?

Possibly we get the wrong impression of ourselves because many of the songs we sing in worship services emphasize human sin.  For many of us, worship can become a time of telling God how good He is and how bad we are.  Hebrews 10:14 however, tells us that Christians have been made holy.  In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lists many types of sinners and then says: “Such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (v. 11). We must be careful not to overlook Gods work of grace by calling attention to our sins all of the time.

Failing to recognize God’s complete salvation may also cause Christians to offend and confuse prospective converts.  What appeal does becoming a Christian have if a person doesn’t change or show any joy?

Perhaps we should address each other as “saints.”  Then, however, people would say we were being presumptuous and proud.  On the other hand, we must not take pride in humility.  Let us never call unclean what the Lord our God has hallowed.