Humility, Love and Forgiveness
by Lee Kai Ling
My Sunday school class recently concluded our study on the Book of Job, a book that is set in beautiful, perfect prose and draws attention to numerous themes pertaining to the very nature of man - his righteousness, his suffering, his pride - and the sovereignty of God. Though dissecting nearly every chapter into its smaller bits to fully understand God’s word in a short frame of time was ‘mentally stressful’, I have been deeply blessed by the lessons. I trust that the youths in my class share similar sentiments and beholding these wondrous truths and teachings will certainly strengthen our spiritual walk with the Lord.
The fiery interaction between Job and his three friends was heavily discussed as it reflects a larger picture of how society works today – how we view the actions of others and act upon them. As Job’s friends brandish their best weapons to smite him and persist in breaking down this most righteous man while he painstakingly tries to uphold his integrity to those who are ever ready to correct him in order to prove themselves right, the issues of Humility and Judgment set in.
How often do we detect the errors other people make and spring up at the chance of catching them red-handed?
How often do we stand on the pedestal and cast disapproving eyes on the sins of others in order to prove our worth?
How often do we single out little details and minute errors and put a brother or a sister down whilst establishing ourselves to be better off?
How often have we sat down with a brother or sister-in-Christ and speak to the person in the spirit of meekness and love, rejecting the sin, and not the sinner?
Do we share each other’s burdens?
Against the backdrop of morality and as we strive to maintain our righteousness by correcting the people around us, many a time, pride creeps in and paves the way for friction. Herein lies the root of all these human conflicts – the Pride of Life. Yet, as Christians who have received the grace of God and are commanded to love others as Christ has loved us, where does humility stand?
“Humility is to feel that we have no power of ourselves, but that it all cometh from God. Humility is to lean on our beloved, to believe that he has trodden the winepress alone, to lie on his bosom and slumber sweetly there, to exalt him, and think less than nothing of ourselves. It is in fact, to annihilate self, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as all in all.” - C.H Spurgeon
“The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.” - C.S Lewis
Spurgeon and Lewis alike portray the humility of Job as seen in Job 42:5-6:
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and ashes."
To be truly humbled before God is to find ourselves entirely blemished and subjected to God’s Sovereign strength and power. Before men, genuine humility is to see ourselves as equally sinful and no better than another when positioned side by side. In the absolute power of God, the relativity that we always fight to prove will then cease to exist.
Perhaps, the system of correction will succeed when we first acknowledge this very fact not only in word but also in deed. The key is no doubt the heart and its intent. If we approach the misdeed with a heart filled with meekness and a genuine desire to help, by forgetting our own ‘better state’ and focusing on God and His righteousness, I believe things will fall into perfect place.
As in the suffering of Job, it is too easy to judge a fellow believer’s dire circumstances and determine that their suffering is punishment for their sins. However, we are beseeched not to judge but instead suffer the burden of a friend and feel the anguish of their sorrow. In our pride and quickness to condemn others, it is so often more about our self- righteous, Pharisee-like attitude than the opportunity to strengthen each other in agape love*.
May we strive to exercise love towards others in true humility, to bear each other's burden just as Christ accepted us in spite of our awful sinfulness. In our day-to- day interaction with others, may we remember that we are similarly undeserving and to correct our perspective by placing Jesus Christ at the centre of it all. If He could exude such humility by taking upon himself the sins of all of humanity at the cross, shouldn't we walk in His footsteps?
* “Judge not, that ye be not repent in dust and judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
(Edelweiss Issue 10: June 2013)
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