Humility and Grace
Humility and Grace
Zac Poonen | 4 September 2022
No-one can obey the New Testament commandments without getting grace from God. Some may be able to keep the first nine of the ten commandments in the Law without grace. But the tenth commandment - "never to lust after what is not yours" (Deut.5:21) - no-one can keep without God's grace. And no-one can rise to the heights of new-covenant life (as described in Matthew chapters 5 to 7) without grace. And God gives His grace only to the humble (1 Pet.5:5).
Humility is one of the virtues that is most easily counterfeited. True humility is not something that others see in us. It is what God sees in us - and it is inward. It is exemplified in Jesus' life. Philippians 2:5-8 tells us that Jesus renounced His privileges and rights as God and became a servant, and was willing to accept even crucifixion from men's hands. We are to follow Him in that path of humility.
Jesus humbled himself in 3 steps.
1. He became a man.
2. He became a servant.
3. On the cross, He was willing to be treated like a criminal.
There we see the three secrets of the Christian life: HUMILITY, HUMILITY and HUMILITY.
The angels must have looked on in wonder when Jesus lived for 33 years on earth and when they saw Him serving others so humbly, and patiently enduring suffering, insult, and injury. They had been used to worshipping Him for years in heaven. But when they saw His conduct on earth, they learnt something more about the nature of God - His lowliness and humility - that they had never seen or understood all the time that Jesus was in heaven. Now God wants to show the angels in heaven that same spirit of Christ through us in the church (as it says in Eph.3:10). What do the angels see in us and in our conduct now? Does our conduct bring glory to God?
Remember that humility is the greatest virtue of all. Humility acknowledges that all that we are and have, are the gifts of God. Humility makes us value and esteem all human beings, especially the weak, the uncultured, the retarded and the poor. Only on that soil of humility can the fruit of the Spirit and the virtues of Christ grow. So, you must live in a constant judgment of yourself, to ensure that no poison of high thoughts or honour-seeking or taking the glory that should be given to God, ever enters into your heart at any time. Meditate much on the humility of Jesus. That is my most important exhortation to you.
Jesus told His seventy disciples, “Do not rejoice in this that the spirits are subject to you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We should not rejoice in: (a) what we are; (b) what we have done; or (c) what we can do. But we should rejoice in: (a) Who the Lord is; (b) what the Lord has done; and (c) what the Lord will do. When we rejoice in what we are capable of, we ourselves get the glory and that makes us look superior to other believers. This is Pharisaism. We are then “rejoicing in the works of our hands” (Acts 7:41) - whether that work be casting out demons, healing the sick, preaching the Word, writing an article, being hospitable, cooking a good meal, driving a car well, or doing some earthly task in an excellent way etc. There are numerous ways to get glory for ourselves. But it is all idolatry. When we rejoice only in what God has done, however, that keeps us humble, and we are on an equal level with all other believers, and thus the Body of Christ can be built.