Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
who do his just commands; seek righteousness;
seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on
the day of the anger of the LORD
Here, in this verse from Zephaniah, we are told we must actively pursue humility which alone will safeguard us from the day of wrath. That is a far cry from passively waiting for it. To pursue it is to exercise all our faculties in making it our own. Humility is the third indispensable quality needed to navigate through perilous times, and it also will protect us from God’s wrath on the last day.
In the previous three blogs, we discussed the indispensable qualities needed to navigate perilous times. First is the importance of having a firm hold on the sovereignty of God. The second is the need for community: having a relationship with the body of Christ of transparency and accountability. This blog focuses on the importance of true humility.
The truth captured in Zephaniah is found throughout Scripture. Of all the qualities that should create in us a desire to know Jesus, it is his humility he touts as the primary aspect of his nature:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is
easy, and my burden is light.”
To be conformed to the image of his Son, therefore, means that we are being transformed into that same image which is essentially his gentleness and humility. But how prideful many in the body of Christ remain even after years of walking with the Savior. Instead of gentleness and humility, many of God’s people continue to walk in pride, stubbornness, and other aspects of the flesh. How desperately we need a new embrace of humbleness of mind to adorn our lives.
I thank God that he taught me almost from the beginning of my walk how vital humility of mind is to living a fruitful Christian life. I learned it principally from a Bible teacher who regularly taught about the need for humility in our walk with God. I thank God for that early instruction regarding humility, for it saved me many difficulties. I learned to humble myself before the Lord regularly.
The New Testament repeatedly encourages us to “humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (I Peter 5:6). James also says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We should take special note of the mention that “God opposes the proud.” Numerous Scriptures warn us about the danger of pride. David tells us that the “Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride” (Psalm 31:23). Solomon in Proverbs tells us, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” and “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 11:2, 16:18).
We are warned against the danger of pride not only by the teaching of Scripture but also exemplified in the lives of the saints. Uzziah began as a godly king but ended up a leper during his later years due to his pride (II Chronicles 26:16-21). After many victories, his heart was lifted up, and he thought he could impinge upon the priesthood by entering the temple and offering incense which only the priesthood was allowed to handle. As the priests rushed him out of the temple, leprosy appeared on his forehead, and he was banished from the temple only to spend the rest of his days in a separate house. Even though the prophet Isaiah undoubtedly prayed earnestly for his healing, he died a leper (Isaiah 6:1).
Jesus, Himself warned in his teaching that his followers must humble themselves before God by the maxim, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). But perhaps his most salient statement uttered by the Savior regarding the importance of humility is found in Matthew 21:44:
And the one who falls on this stone
will be broken to pieces, and when
it falls on anyone; it will crush him.
Jesus makes it clear that human beings have two choices; they can either fall on the stone and be broken to pieces, or else the stone will fall upon them and crush them to pieces. It is far better to fall on the stone (humble ourselves) than it is to have it fall on us and crush us to pieces. We can see this demonstrated in the life of the wicked king of Judah, Manasseh. He was the worst king Judah ever had, rebelling against all the commandments of the Lord by filling Jerusalem with idols. But after the God of Israel afflicted him, Manasseh humbled himself greatly before Him. And the Lord took notice of his falling on the Stone (humbling himself) and had mercy upon him (II Chronicles 33:10-13).
Have you learned about the danger of pride in your walk with Jesus? Are you falling on the Stone regularly? Or are you stubbornly resisting so that it falls on you and crushes you? May these words remind us that pride is our enemy and help us obey God’s Word by humbling ourselves before Him.