Friday, June 6, 2014
Here is wise counsel from the apostle Peter:
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.(1 Peter 5:5-6)
By nature, you and I are far more likely to grumble under God’s mighty hand of providence than to humble ourselves. We resist, rather than receive, what God delivers to us as part of His perfect plan for our lives. We are very much like the children of Israel in their Exodus experience, who rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled through the wilderness, grumbling every step of the way!
But this is not for you!God gives grace to those who humble themselves, regardless of the circumstances God sends their way. In stormy seasons, humility is the mark of the surrendered Christian. If we believe that what is happening to us is the result of random chance, we will not be able to humble ourselves. We will believe we have every right to grumble against our God.
But when we understand the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and know beyond a shadow of any doubt that God is ultimately in control of all things (Romans 11:36)—in other words, that nothing happens to us that first doesn’t pass through His nail-scarred hands—we can surrender our will to His will and humble ourselves under His mighty hand.
There are many wonderful examples in sacred Scripture of giants of the faith who understood this truth and humbled themselves under God’s hand of providence. Joseph saw God’s hand working behind his wicked brothers, who hated him enough to throw him into a well, thinking to kill him, and then decided to sell him into slavery.
Years later, when God had raised Joseph up to be the prime minister of Egypt, his brothers came cowering before him, offering themselves to Joseph in slavery. Joseph could have spoken a word and had his brothers executed or sent to a hideous dungeon. Instead he spoke kindly to them, saying:
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
Joseph understood that God was the decretive first cause behind the painful providence, which was delivered through his self-righteous and sinful brothers. He knew God had the power to stop them in their tracks if He so wished . . . but He did not. So instead of grumbling under God’s mighty hand, Joseph humbled himself. I’m sure he did not understand the “why” all along the way, but He knew God was in control of all of it and would ultimately work all things together for Joseph’s good and God’s glory. And that is exactly what happened!
Only a firm grasp of this truth will allow us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, rather than grumble when things don’t go our way.
Humble or grumble? The choice is always ours.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!