Zechariah 11:1-3. Sermon XXXIX. Anno Domini
Last Sunday we talked about how circumstances are not the standard by which we should measure God’s work in and for us. The text also guided us to consider what we really believe about our dependency on His Beauty, not only to get this year going in the right direction but to face all of life. We said that humility is the place to get us started.
What does it mean to live our lives from a position of humility? And, how do we know we have it? Well, let’s talk about it.
The two components of biblical humility
To be humble before the LORD means to remember, constantly, our true identity and His real character. Our identity should persistently be in a state of tension between the reality of our sin and His marvelous work of restoration. We are sinners who have been declared righteous because of a righteousness that is not our own. Martin Luther said better: simul justus et peccator – at the same time righteous and sinner. That is our real identity, because of Who He is and What He has done. And I said we must live in a constant state of tension because we do not want to consider only one part of the dual nature of our identity. If we only focus on our sinfulness, we degrade His power, love, justice, sacrifice, grace. If we only focus on our alien righteousness, we may get to believe that lie that, somehow, this is a righteousness we actually deserve; we would get puffed up with pride.
Both extremes are sinful.
But empowered by His Spirit, we can live in this healthy tension, remembering the depths He took us out from, and celebrating the fact that, now, we belong to Him. Yes, the ability to live in this tension is not natural to the human heart. Who would like to live constantly remembering his / her own sin? Who would like to remember all the good things that were not done, and the bad things that were committed? This kind of thinking is not good for one’s self-esteem. But when it is paired with the persistent consideration of His Beauty, of the fact that He has restored us back to Him, then it generates in us clear signs of His faithful work within our own heart.
Its practical expression
This tension should move us to remember His power, expressed in the restoration He is working in us. This tension is the best place to be to seriously consider all of His attributes, all of His character. After all, this is the Triune God of Scripture who has intervened in time and space to work redemption for us.
This tension should also move us to recognise that we need His help, every minute of our life. Humility, biblical humility, is the ability to recognize our sin, celebrate His work and express our need of His guidance and help. Specially through prayer.
Prayer is the practical minimal expression of humility.
Prayer to worship Him. Prayer to ask for His guidance. Prayer to intercede for those who are different than us. Prayer for strength to follow Him – disregarding our own cultural preference – into the places that only Him could go, to love the people only Him could love. Prayer whose hallmark is delight. Delight in the fact that we are communicating with the only true living God, Who is there and Who is Personal, i.e. He not only listens to our prayers, but He also responds to them according to His own good pleasure.
That, familia, is the kind of humility that marks the true disciple, the true imitator of Jesus Christ, God the Son.
Starting from that position of humility is the best way to get this year started, it’s the best way to face life.