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Posts Tagged ‘humility’


Psalms 30, 34 and 126: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part III

Beyond the Poverty of Spiritpoor in spirit

Thursday, January 19, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in New Scripture.

As we learn how to enter into God’s humility we also acquire self-knowledge, and it is this deeper understanding that leads us to the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This poverty of spirit shows us that sadness is not to be avoided for it is in the depths of grief that we encounter God most deeply. Through humility we arrive at understanding that our successes and failures come to us through no talent of our own . . . but through God’s deep, infinite and abiding goodness. When we refuse to understand this truth we find ourselves stalled on God’s ladder of beatitude. When we blame God for the disaster, sadness and darkness in the world, we demonstrate our own refusal to act with God to heal, bridge, console, and include. When we admit that we are not in charge, we are ready for the third rung on God’s Yardstick.

Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed
    will come back singing for joy,
    as they bring in the harvest. (Psalm 126:6)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” We often understand the quality of meekness as sweetness and affability rather than strength, but the meekness that Jesus displays is a willingness to be taught. Those who are meek as Jesus is meek have submitted their strength to God for God’s use. They have no arrogance and so they become instruments of God’s authority – both here on earth and later. So it is through our poverty of spirit and sadness that we arrive at possessing authority. It is through the power of Christ that the paradox unfolds . . . and we move to the fourth beatitude.

Tomorrow, God’s righteousness.


Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Image from:  http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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Luke 6: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part II

The Poor in SpiritHumility-2

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in New Scripture.

Jesus shows us in the New Testament how to achieve union with God. In his sermons on the Mount (Matthew 5) and the Plain (Luke 6), Jesus lays out quite clearly how we might join him in the true kingdom of eternal, beatific happiness. We will not find him taking the lead in our earthly political, social kingdoms or work kingdoms . . . although he is there nevertheless. To find Jesus, and happiness, we must look along the edges of society among the marginalized, mourning, and ailing. Jesus brings us a unique message of inversion through the paradox of the Beatitudes. Jesus leads us on an exodus from bondage to true freedom. Jesus leads us from dark to light, from sadness to joy, from death to life. The beatitudes do not, scholars point out, occur in a random order; rather, they form a carefully constructed ladder that leads to true blessedness and lasting happiness. They lead to the joy of the kingdom. Today we look at the first of these rungs in the ladder of God’s Yardstick.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus tells us. He speaks of people who are truly humble, who know themselves, and who see humility as the opposite of hubris or overpowering pride. With his own human life as a model, Jesus shows us that it is in our willingness to be poor in spirit for a time that we will experience the serenity of the kingdom. Paul understands this and in his letter to the Philippians, he describes the importance of humility as an essential attitude for entry into the kingdom (Philippians 2, 5-8). Today we use the scripture links to compare and study these verses, and to allow God’s humility to seep into our bones.

Tomorrow, the value of mourning.


Image from: http://tommyeldridge.com/god-opposes-proud/

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 5, 2007.

 

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Matthew 18:1-5The Greatest in the Kingdom

first shall be last

James Tissot: The First Shall Be Last

Friday, November 18, 2022

Once more we read the stupefying mystery that the greatest will be least and the least, greatest. For humans this is a difficult saying. It runs counter to our sense of logic; it runs against our tendency to self-preserve, to survive. Yet it is what we must hear. Our proper relationship with God is to be child-like, not childish. We are to go to our creator with our problems and our woes. God, being merciful and just, will see to our needs and is open to discussing our wants. We are to be humble. We are to be trusting children.

In Psalm 45 The Mighty One rides out to justify truth, humility and righteousness. It was very likely composed as a song for a royal wedding because the imagery speaks to a proper, joyful and humble relationship. We might pray this Psalm when we seek humility. It reminds us that the faithful need not fight; they only need to stand and witness. It reminds us that we must leave our accustomed comfort zone to seek another, better place. Today we spend time with this psalm and these verses from Matthew as we reflect on our relationship with God, our relationships with those we love, and our attitude about those we fear.


A favorite from January 8, 2008. 

Image from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4518

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James 3:13: The Gentleness of Wisdom

Monday, November 7, 2022c6a21-gentleness

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

We spent time with James 3 several weeks ago when we considered living well, wisely and humbly, and at that time we reflected on how we might find joy in humility when the world so ably tells us that this cannot be so. And we considered the role of wisdom in the finding of this humility.

God says: In the world’s view, the wise are usually surrounded by servants and dwell in comfort. This is not my view. From the world’s perspective, the wise wield power and influence, they control people, resources and perspectives. This is not my perspective. In the world’s judgement, the meek of heart are silly doormats. This is not my judgment. In my view, the wise serve rather than demand service. From my perspective, the meek are more powerful than all the legions in the world. In my judgment, the wise know more than all the scholars of the world, and they are more loving in their gentle humility to me than all those who make false claim to wisdom.

phil 4-8Listen to Krista Tippet’s interview with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Enriched by Difference and reflect on healing violence by finding God in the face of the stranger, and the choice that God sets before us each day at: https://onbeing.org/programs/enriched-difference-jonathan-sacks-2/

Enter the word humility in the blog search bar and reflect on the gentleness of this quality . . . and how we might learn to live in this gentleness.

Spend time with Philippians 4 today and reflect on the gentleness of wisdom. 


Images from: https://quotesthoughtsrandom.wordpress.com/tag/gentleness/ and http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Is-True-Philippians-Vinyl/dp/B009Z4C6NG

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James 1:19-21: Our Salvation Garden

Friday, November 4, 2022salvation garden

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

How do we best lead with our ears? From what source does God’s righteousness flow? When might the Word landscape our lives?

God says: There are too many words in your lives. Rather than shout and rant at one another, watch and listen. Rather than criticize and complain, praise and celebrate whenever possible. My righteousness flows from my love and ebbs toward you in direct proportion to the amount of openness you show to my creation. The Garden of Eden is not a mystical place that exists in the misty past or the hazy future. My garden of paradise grows in your hearts. Allow me to prune the fruit trees and vines that they might bear more fruit. Permit me to send gentle rain, heavy torrents, beating sun and watch as I draw something beautiful from both the driest landscape and the densest jungle. Nothing can stifle the love I want to share with each and all of you. Come, put aside your pride, bring your humble heart to me. Work with me in my burgeoning garden of salvation.

english-garden-we-heart-itGod speaks to us constantly. We hear the Word best when we practice leading with our ears. We live God’s righteous love when we put our anger behind us and take on God’s humility. We create salvation gardens with God when we allow the Word to govern all that we say and do.

Enter the word righteous or humility in the blog search bar and explore other posts that open this concept for us.

Click on the garden images on this post to read more on James 1 and the concept of a salvation garden, or visit: http://www.flowingfaith.com/2011/07/making-a-salvation-garden-of-your-life.html  or http://limitlesslaura.com/cultivating-your-inner-garden-a-course-in-happiness/  

atacama flowers

The Washington Post – October 30, 2015

Read about the blooming malva flowers in the arid Atacama desert in South America after rain at The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/10/29/the-driest-place-on-earth-is-covered-in-pink-flowers-after-a-crazy-year-of-rain/

Images from: http://www.flowingfaith.com/2011/07/making-a-salvation-garden-of-your-life.html and https://www.pinterest.com/pin/406168460119827057/

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James 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Saturday, October 29, 2022

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us, indeed all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humble ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.


Images from: https://www.happierhuman.com/patience-affirmations/ and https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible-heart

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James 1-4: A Prayer to Resolve Turmoil

Wednesday, October 19, 2022peace-key-703x201

No matter the constraint, no matter the barriers to resolution, there is always a path to find peace when we live in Christ, James tells us. We have seen, in the last few days as we have spent time with the opening chapters of James’ letter, the steps for resolution are not complicated when we live in the Spirit. We see today when we reflect on all that James has shared with us, there is always a way forward with God. And so we pray.

Faith and works together will bring us wisdom . . . good and gracious God, bring us your wisdom. Remind us to rely on what we learn from you rather than our intelligence.

Good works bear good fruit . . . generous and faithful God, bring us your grace. Remind us that apples do not grow on vines and berries do not grow on trees.

Wars and quarrels are of our own making and not God’s . . . peaceful and sustaining God, bring us your serenity. Remind us that with you all things are possible.

God’s love is persistent, patient, strong and at the same time gentle . . . loving and courageous God, bring us your meekness. Remind us that humility can achieve more than all earthly power, fame and glory.

No matter the problem, there is always a solution . . . life-giving and eternal God, bring us your fortitude. Remind us that your love for us will never die.

Amen.


For reflections on how to find peace in today’s world, click on the image above or visit: http://www.peacepoint.com/find-peace

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James 4:7-10: A Solution for Turmoil

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

James continues to be clear with us. There is a method to putting an end to wars and struggles and the list is brief.

  1. Submit ourselves to God.
  2. Resist temptations to act independently of God.
  3. Continue to draw near to God.
  4. Cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.
  5. Ask forgiveness for our willfulness.
  6. Be humble.

The benefits of these simple acts are enormous and impossible to measure. A certain serenity settles over our lives. A new passion colors our relationship with God and with those around us as a result of newly-found peace. We connect ever more intensely with the divinity that lives within. It is no coincidence that these instructions from James closely mirror the 12 steps to recovery outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. We might spend time with these verses today and make a few simple decisions . . .

Give ourselves over to God . . . So let God work his will in you.

Resist temptation . . . Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.

Draw ever closer to God . . . Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.

Make an intentional effort to renew our lives in Christ . . . Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.

Ask forgiveness . . . Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over.

Be humble . . . Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

All else will follow in its natural course.

forgiveWhen we use the scripture link to compare versions of these verses, we allow James’ wisdom to settle into our days and into our lives.

To learn more about the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, visit: http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/what-is-aa 

Tomorrow, a prayer for resolving turmoil . . . 


Images from: http://christiancarguy.com/forgiveness-by-bill-mixon/ and https://gentlechristianparenting.com/humility/

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James 3:13-18: Live Well, Live Wisely, Live Humbly

Saturday, October 15, 2022humility image

In our modern cultures we often believe that living well and living humbly are incompatible lifestyles. James tells us otherwise.

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. 

In our modern societies we can heed ancient words from ancient days. James assures us that living well is to put others first and to listen more than we speak. He promises us that this is so.

humilityWhenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

In our modern world we seek the formula for success when all the while we hold that success in our hands. In our willingness to live humbly we discover what it is to live wisely. In our willingness to follow Christ is our key to living well.


Images from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lisahendey/2013/12/humility-constructing-solid-foundations/ 

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