The Blessing of Humility
We are living in a time of uncertainty, cultural-political disquiet, conflicts, and advancing secularism. These are just a few challenges to civil society, governance, relationships, Christianity, and more. The direction and future forward is unclear and can be disconcerting. The author T.S. Elliott offered relief from the distractions we face in life when he wrote we can be “distracted from distraction by distraction.” Many of us knowingly or unknowingly do that. The above life concerns are far more than distractions which will not be addressed by other similar distractions.
Today’s advancing world and societal-cultural issues may change how our lives of faith may be lived and broadened. With the challenges we face, today’s three scripture readings from Zephaniah, Paul and Matthew offer hope and guidance. The common thread of their words today is about living life in humility.
In the Old Testament the prophet Zephaniah warns of political turmoil, false prophets, arrogance and idolatries in the Kingdom of Judah. With admonishment he says to the Jewish people, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of earth, ... seek justice, seek humility.” They did not listen to his warnings. Soon thereafter their kingdom was defeated and exiled to Babylon.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about God choosing the “foolish, weak, lowly, despised and those who count for nothing,” to shame those who “might boast before God.” God chose the humble not those humbled before God.
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount lists eight beatitudes or blessings as desirable qualities for life. The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit” which directs us to be aware and conscious of the need for God’s help. It is a humble admission of the poverty of not being able to do everything ourselves. Humility is not to be understood as an embarrassment from a humbled failure but about personal moral poverty which is humility. We need God’s help in overcoming the challenges ahead of us in the world.
Humility is a virtue that uniquely offers us the companion virtue gratitude which is associated with greater happiness. Humility and gratitude are on opposite sides of the same coin. One cannot help but expose and lead to the other. As we humbly live blessed in “poor spirit” a perspective of gratitude for our lives and God’s loving forgiveness arises.
We are to be a new kind of “distraction” ... seeds cast to the wind to help bring about a virtuous awakening of the beatitudes to offer hope, light, clarity, respect, truth, dialogue and God’s love to these challenged times.
We can start with something rather simple for a world in need to see. Pastor Rick Warren in his book Purpose Driven Life wrote,
“If you have Jesus in your heart, please inform your face.”
Deacon Jack and Sharon Redmond
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