My Bible preaches humility.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. … [Philippians 2: 3-11]
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” [James 4:6]
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” [Luke 14:11]
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6
Yet humility is something that most of us struggle with.
I know I do.
Along with Pastor Hamilton, John Ortberg* has written about the value of doubt.* He states “It may sound strange but some would be better believers if they had a little more doubt..”
How could doubt encourage humility?
It’s all about what we think we know.
Believers who are super confident can easily cross over into the land of the prideful because they think they know “God’s will.” Have you heard from a confident Christian the words “I have had a word from God,” “I know God has spoken to me,” or my favorite “God has touched my heart.”
I hear things like that and I am quiet. But in my mind I am thinking “I hope so because that would be wonderful. I hope so because now you have declared it to everyone.”
Maybe it is just coincidence, but I am reading the Book of Job right now. Job was a confused and humbled man. As many of you know, he was “super-rich”, a man of great power and wealth with a large family. Satan took away his wealth and family and thus his power and Job reacted with words like “of all the miracles God works, we cannot understand a one.” He certainly could not understand his sudden demise.
Yet he was surrounded by three friends who seemed to know God’s will. They knew that God only visits suffering on the wicked so they said that Job had brought his calamity on himself.
What happened when God spoke to Job? We find that God was really on Job’s side and He was upset with the prideful friends: [42:7] “because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” There was more faith in Job’s confusion than in the three friend’s pious certainty.
When a person has so much confidence that they know God’s will, I wonder if the declaration of God’s intent is really the true will of God or if the declaration is really a way to manipulate others to achieve their own desires. Sometimes I wonder if a declaration of God’s will is just a way to draw attention. If I am a Christian and I can say I know what God’s will is…well, that makes me special.
Ortberg writes of a comic strip he was given about a new arrival in heaven. The comic strip shows St. Peter interviewing a new arrival. He says to the potential candidate “Are you a believer?” The new arrival says in a prideful, confident voice “Yes, beyond a doubt.” St. Peter says “You are a believer, yes. But you skipped the not-being-a-jerk-about-it-part.”
Doubt puts me in my place. I am a man, struggling to live the best life I can. At times I closely relate to Paul who says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I get as confused as a newborn and realize I don’t have what it takes to do God’s work, let alone live a life that would make anyone feel good. In times like that, I truly know that God is God and David is David.
I need to be humbled. I need to know my place. My uncertainty can produce character in me as I have to trust God in my times of confusion. I accept it because…
my Bible says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
*John Ortberg Know Doubt