Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Scandalous Virtue

By recommending humility Apostle Paul fired a broadside at the Philippian culture and our own (Phil.2:3-8). Like us, the Greeks and Romans exalted the lifestyles of the rich and famous! The idea of humility seemed especially out of place in Philippi. Yet Paul insisted that Christians there cultivate humility.

The humility Apostle Paul described was not a groveling, abject demeanor. No, biblical humility means to not think of oneself more highly that is true (Rom.12:3), but rather acknowledging what one is with all of one’s strengths and weaknesses, pluses and minuses, successes and failures.

Do you want true humility? It comes from seeing yourself in relation to God. Other biblical writers offer valuable perspectives on this foundational virtue:-

King David says,
“LORD, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a few hand-breadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight.      Surely everyone stands as a mere breath. Surely everyone goes about like a shadow. Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; they heap up, and do not know who will gather” (Ps. 39:4-6).

Prophet Micah says,
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8).

John the Baptist says,
“He must become greater, and I must become less important” (John 3:30).

In contrast to the many people who seek upward mobility, followers of Jesus Christ must follow his example of being downwardly mobile. Our Lord Jesus Christ moved from a position of ultimate power to utter powerlessness (Phil.2:5-8). In doing so he set the best possible example of Servant-Leadership (cf. Matt.20:25-28, John 13:2-17).

Apostle Paul said his generation was comprised of “crooked and mean people” (Phil. 2:15). But was his generation much different than ours?

According to an infamous poll, many Americans believe that ethics and standards of honesty are getting worse. This is happening in many job categories. When the pollster asked whether workers in various occupations exhibit honesty and good ethical standards, clergymen received only 64% positive rating! But that compared favorably with Medical Doctors, who received a score of 53%, News Reporters at 25%, Business Executive at 18%, and Advertising Practitioners at 8%.

Given such a low opinion of the integrity of so many occupations, believers today have an outstanding opportunity to “shine like stars in the dark world” (Phil. 2:15).

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