Posts Tagged ‘humility’

Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part II

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Satan believes that he can tempt Job into doubting God’s abiding friendship. Job’s friends make conditions worse. Today we read a speech from Bildad who believes that Job has brought ruin upon himself; but this friend is not privy to Satan’s challenge and dare as we are.  Bildad operates from his own experience and from the information he has at hand; he believes that Job has sinned and that he suffers as a result. There is no calculus in his mind for innocent suffering, and so here and in his second speech (Chapter 18) he encourages Job to confess and repent of his wrongdoing. This is something Job cannot do, of course, for he has not sinned. There is nothing to confess. He suffers innocently.

Teresa of Ávila is correct. Our intimate relationship with God is a challenging and arduous journey. Rather than being a state of mind or condition, it is a process in which our hubris, fear, suspicion and independence are winnowed away until we are left with humility, obedience, trust and love. When we meditate on the entire story of Job we are given the opportunity to examine our own journey with God and the quality of our faithfulness. Do we cling to God because of favors that might be granted us? Do we count God as a friend because we hope to receive certain blessings? Is this a relationship in which we do for God only because God is the best bet, carries the greatest weight, wields the greatest force and is the generally accepted deity? Or do we claim God as our own because God claims us? Do we humble ourselves before God because we understand that we are creatures created from God’s love? Do we hand ourselves over as objects of the dare – as Job does – because ultimately we trust God more than we trust ourselves?

If a friend approaches us in our misery and encourages us to fess up about something we have done when we have, in fact, done nothing to merit our pain: what is our response? Do we enter into the dare? Do we count on ourselves and our own resources? Or do we count on God?

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.

Image from: https://catholicyearoffaith.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/faith-in-the-book-of-job-part-1/

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Luke 18:9-14: More than Ourselves


James Tissot: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Jesus tells his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people.

The story begins in this way . . . Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man.

“I know this one,” we tell ourselves. But do we really?

“I am the Tax Man,” we say as we move quickly through the verses. But do family, friends and strangers alike see us this way?

“I am humble,” we continue, “and so will be made great”. But is this all there is to the story?

Jesus reminds us: If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.

It is likely that most of us are both tax man and Pharisee as we move through our days; and it is certain that God’s forgiving heart heals our wounds and forgives our errors. When we read various versions of this well-known story, the impact of the daily choice we make to accept our foibles and forgive faults in others is evident. And it is certain that when we lay all that we are and all that we do in God’s able hands, we allow God’s great love to make us more than we ever might have dreamt.

This is God’s great kingdom and commandment of love at work. This is the power of the love that Jesus brings to the world. This is the effect and outcome of the Spirit’s nurturing, healing presence. For even when we walk with our noses in the air, God makes a way for us to become more than ourselves.

As we consider the tax men and Pharisees in our lives and where we place our hopes and build alliances, we better understand the reality of this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Click on the image above for a study and reflection on these verses, or visit: http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/february2014p8.htm 

Tomorrow, you have seen him.

Image from: http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/february2014p8.htm

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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.


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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