Psst! Your Humility Is Showing

“No wonder Christians are so humble,” pondered aloud our international student friend. Knowing very little about the Bible, she had been joining Peggy and me weekly to learn about God and His gracious work in a fallen humanity. As the gospel sunk in a little bit deeper one evening, our friend made the connection—receiving everything while deserving nothing is indeed a very humbling thing. Gratitude then grows where pride once prevailed.

Truthfully, our friend’s comment took me by surprise—a pleasant surprise for sure—for I had become more accustomed to criticism from those who have yet to meet the Savior. In fact, it seems we as believers are inclined to be a little too harsh on ourselves, letting accusations define us and thereby discourage us from sharing with others the treasure we’ve found in Christ. It is true that inconsistencies between our belief and our behavior are off-putting to others and understandably so, for our moral missteps are every bit as discouraging to us. But God’s work in us does not cease at salvation; He continues to shape us into the image of Christ. The more we receive and experience the love and faithfulness of God, the more eagerly we set aside our desires for His desires and our ways for His own. This is His doing, not ours, for it is He who “work[s] in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”1

And it shows. Our friend saw humility often enough and consistently enough among Christians that she made the association, a connection she carried in her heart. God works other traits into His followers as well: personally, it was the peace, joy, and faith of believers that caught my attention and sent me seeking the risen Christ, and perhaps it was still other godly characteristics that drew you to Him. So take heart—the Spirit of God is morphing us into the image of Christ and equipping us for His good purposes. We are not the same people we were when we entrusted our lives to Him, thankfully, so we can confidently step into the divine directive today: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”2 How humbling the call.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Father, Your wisdom is unsearchable, and Your love boundless. Thank You for changing us, most often in ways we view only in hindsight. Strengthen us in the humility of Christ, that we would live, love and serve with Him today. In His name we pray. Amen.

1 Hebrews 13:21
2 Matthew 5:16


The Grace of Age

Of all my birthdays one stands out in a peculiar way—twenty-two. Can you guess why? Until that point, I had looked forward to the spoils that come with age. In childhood, it was things and activities that patiently awaited my impatient self—getting a bicycle, joining a Scout troop, and playing Little League baseball, for instance. Along the way, my age-related desires migrated toward special privileges—the driver’s license at sixteen, voting at eighteen, and, yes, legally imbibing at twenty-one.

Then came twenty-two . . .

And I realized no more age-related opportunities or privileges lay ahead (except maybe social security at sixty-five, which held no appeal at the time). The small, sobering voice of reality crashed my party that year.

Many birthdays have come and gone since twenty-two. The bikes and ball gloves of my youth are mere memories, though I embrace our shared experiences in a nostalgic way, and I still appreciate the privileges of adulthood. Yet far greater than any of these is the special grace of realizing worldly things satisfy but for a moment and our time on earth doesn’t last forever. Reality has a way of getting our attention and redirecting us to what matters and endures. Jesus taught the gathering crowds, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”1 Our hearts follow our treasure, and in the transforming love of God, what we treasure matures into what matters, that which lasts—God himself.

Then how do we store up treasures in heaven? Think for a moment—when do you most sense God’s presence? Isn’t it when you open up to Him in conversation and when you absorb His life-breathing Word? Then also, when do you sense God’s pleasure? Isn’t it when God blesses someone through your obedient acts of kindness and healing words of truth and grace? Loving God and loving people—these are the things that matter, the things that build up lasting treasures that await us when we come of age.

“And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NLT).

Father, the older we get, the more our desires reach toward yours. Thank you for this grace. Lead us today into what matters—loving you with all our being and loving people in the ways you call us to do so today. Be our treasure. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 6:19-21



In last week’s post A Good Compliment, we considered the words we might most want to hear from Jesus when we arrive “on the other side” and step into His presence. “Well done, good and faithful servant!”1 was likely our group consensus. Then what words might we want to be able to say upon our final boarding call from this life’s departure gate? Writing to his young protégé Timothy, the apostle Paul, his end now imminent, reflected on his life’s work. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”2 Wouldn’t we all, in humility and joy, want to be able to say the same about our life here?

“Oh, but he was Paul, and I’m just me!” we might resign in despair. Yet by his own accounting, Paul lived much of his life not fighting the good fight at all; in fact, for years he actively opposed Jesus Christ. “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am,”3 he mused to Corinthian believers. His formerly misdirected life magnified all the more God’s forgiveness and love, for Paul was worthy of neither; it was only by God’s grace that he could look back on a life of meaning and impact, for his work for God was a gift from God. And God extends the same to us: the present of a purposefully productive life. Then what do we do with this gift? How do we in God’s grace and by His means fight and finish well; how do we keep the faith?

We focus today on what matters forever. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Paul once wrote, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”4 By his own reckoning, he worked harder than all of the apostles, “yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”5 Pressing on and working hard in the power and guidance of the Spirit—these are the makings of the fight fought, the race finished and the faith kept. Continuing in his letter to Timothy, Paul turned his attention to what lay ahead: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”6 The aging apostle—still focused on what lay ahead; still encouraging us to do the same.

Father, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.”7 Send your Spirit to strengthen and guide me, that I would productively live today for your kingdom that lasts forever. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 25:21
2 2 Timothy 4:7
3 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
4 Philippians 3:13-14
5 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
6 2 Timothy 4:8
7 Psalm 39:5