September 23, 2019. Exodus 10:3. Part 11: Be Humble (by not trying to be humble).

Exodus 10:3. So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.

Here in the middle of the plagues Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh one of the most important questions in all of life. Will you humble yourself before the LORD?

Why is this question so important? Because we can only relate to God correctly through humility. Only humility on our part brings the grace of God. And God only relates to us through grace.

No humility no God.

No God no grace.

No receiving of grace no receiving of God.

James 4:6. But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Psalm 138:6. For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.

This truth permeates all of scripture. A relationship with God is only possible by grace. But you can only live a life of grace if you embrace humility, dependency, submission. We must lose our life to find it. Only by dying will we live.

The core truth of Christianity is that we are a mess. That even our most righteous deeds fall way short of God’s true righteousness. That our hearts are drawn toward selfishness. That every breath is a gift from God. And so therefore we are all constantly in need of God’s sustaining life, love, and mercy.

A lesson Pharaoh would fail to learn. A lesson that we all must learn, and re-learn daily.

Loki needs to learn some humility.

Jesus himself came to show us what a humility in humanity can and should look like. Humility was forsaken in Eden but Christ regained it in eternity. He gave up his life, his status, his glory all for love. Love of God and love of us. He alone imaged God as was intended for us all. Now all of us who are in Christ can image God in humility.

Jesus was the one person who lived who had every right to be proud. He alone had the capacity to “live his dreams.” To “be his best self.” To “live his best life now.” To “follow his heart.” Many read the story of Jesus and see the most self-actualized, self-realized, self-fulfilled person in history. But Jesus wasn’t self-fulfilled. He was God fulfilled. He was humble. He never sought the self and his own will. He sought God and his will. He completely submitted to the Father and lived only to glorify the Trinity. Never himself.

And the paradox is that this is exactly what allowed Christ to accomplish his purpose. This humility, this submission is what gave him courage, victory, meaning. We might say his self-actualization occurred BECAUSE he gave up any notion of living for himself. The wilderness temptation and the garden temptation demonstrate this. And how did Jesus pass the wilderness temptation? He stood in the waters of humble baptism and he saw the heavens opened and heard his Father declare his love for him. How did he pass the garden temptation? He stood on the mount of transfiguration and received his glory from the grace of God. He than humbled himself, refusing Peter’s booths, and walking down the mountain to the cross. Both times hearing the love of the Father. Both times receiving the respect of the Father. But Christ passed this test long before the wilderness and the garden. He passed it in eternity. His incarnation is rooted in his humility. “He humbled himself and took on the form of a servant” (Phil. 2). He was eternally humble (you have to be to be a Trinity).

How did Jesus live his life? He trusted the will, the heart, the goodness, and the grace of the Father. He knew that anything that is given up in the worship of God will be restored by God in the form of God himself.

When we give up those things that would replace God in our hearts we get God. And God gets us. God never withholds God. Or to say it another way, when we lose our life for Christ’s sake we find it. When we humble ourselves we find God’s grace will always lift us up.

James 4:10. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

But in case you are reading this thinking “I need to be more humble so I can experience God some more,” humility is never something to be accomplished. It is a non-accomplishment. In fact, it only starts when you realize you will never achieve it. That’s the irony. Try to be humble and you’ll never be humble. Realize your inability to be humble and you’re on your way. Humility is a form of self-forgetfulness above everything else. It is achieved only when we stop trying. It comes only when we receive the grace of God allowing it to remove all selfishness naturally.

The good news is that the humility of Christ is ours in our union with Christ. Not because we have achieved it but because we have received it. It took humility to receive Christ. If your salvation experience was not full of humility, of recognizing the futility of your own efforts and your own self-righteousness, then you are not in Christ. Not because you didn’t try hard enough, but because you haven’t given up trying hard.

But if you are in Christ then you have been given a great gift. The gift of humility. The freedom that allows self-forgetfulness. The faith that allows you to trust that God is better than everything else this life offers. A union with Christ’s life that brings you into God himself. His fullness. His completeness. A place that never produces pride, which is a by-product of emptiness. But rather a fullness that destroys the need to be self-fulfilled because you have found all the fullness you need in “to live is Christ.”

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