Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lesson 4--Humility and Boldness

Lesson 4

Yesterday, we dealt with Boldness. Today, we deal with humility. I know for a long time I thought the two were opposites. One can move boldly with humility. In fact, I often equated humility with humiliation. I am not one for humiliation; not at all, not on any level. In fact, I will go to great lengths to not humiliate myself. I will disengage. I will leave the scene. I will not show up.

How can I move boldly with humility if I am running every time humility is called for, or appropriate? Trust me, screaming and yelling and causing a drama queen scene—that is running from humility as well. I take that back…that is not know what humility ever was. So, if humility is not meant to humiliate us, what exactly its intention? And, what does Godly humility look like?

  1. 1 Kings 1:16
    Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the king. "What is it you want?" the king asked.
    1 Kings 1:15-17 (in Context) 1 Kings 1 (Whole Chapter)
  2. 1 Kings 1:28
    [ David Makes Solomon King ] Then King David said, "Call in Bathsheba." So she came into the king's presence and stood before him.
    1 Kings 1:27-29 (in Context) 1 Kings 1 (Whole Chapter)
  3. 1 Kings 1:31
    Then Bathsheba bowed low with her face to the ground and, kneeling before the king, said, "May my lord King David live forever!"
    1 Kings 1:30-32 (in Context) 1 Kings 1 (Whole Chapter)

Ok, humility. Humility to me is putting forward my best self with quiet dignity. Humility is sweeping the floor in my mother’s house when it needs sweeping. Humility to me is offering grace when someone messes up because I have messed up at some point. Humility is working with someone and doing my best, when I know it could possibly be in vain. Humility is not associated with humiliation as much as it is a deriviative of humble.

Humility: “Reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference,” “not proud or haughty,” “unpretentious.”
Humiliation: “to reduce to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes.”

When Bathsheba approached King David, she did so with humility, she granted him deference. She was not attempting to reduce her self-worth. This is what I know to be true, arrogance and pride, making a scene, loud call attention to myself behavior, ironically, will lower my position in the situation. If I must act in that way, I am obviously trying to prove something, that apparently is not true. If I must prove it, it is not self-evident. When I act with humility, quiet integrity of purpose, my worth is self-evident. Why the paradox?

Philippians 2
1
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Garish, arrogant, prideful, scene-making behaviors are all self-serving behaviors. Basically, we are saying to the world, “You better look at me! I am the greatest! I need to tell you real loud, because I need your attention!” Oh, wait a minute, did we just say “I need your attention?” The need of attention undermines the notion that you are the greatest. If we are the greatest we are already receiving the attention we are due.

Look at the verses with Bathsheba. She approached King David with humility, even in this difficult situation. ( I would dare say, approaching your man in his bedroom with his new wife is far more difficult that a hair on your plate at a restaurant.) She bowed low to him. She did not bow with perfunctory, just because she had too. She bowed low, with grace and sincerity. And, although she did not initially receive what she desired from King David, you will see in our next recorded verse, he had to call her back in.

Did you see her get the attention she deserved?

Furthermore, King David granted her request. He was naming Solomon as King of the now united kingdom of Israel. What was her response? “May the Lord King David live forever!” Wait a minute, did not David just name Solomon as the next king, upon the death of King David. And, David was not serving to protect Bathsheba and her/his family. Wouldn’t she have wanted to wish him death…or at the very least, neglect to wish him well?

But she did not. She wished him an even longer life, with sincerity and humility. We know this because she put her face to the floor as one would a prayer to the LORD.

Did Bathsheba’s humility undermine her boldness? No. I tell you it was because of her boldness that she approached the king. It was because of her humility that she was rewarded.

Proverbs 22:4
Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.

Esther is another wonderful example of this principle of boldness of mission and humility of execution. We will get to know her another day. But, if like me, this is an area that you struggle, if humility is not something you are comfortable with, if pride fits you like a glove, go read her book. It’s in the Old Testament.

Bathsheba has come a long long way from the tantalizing young woman bathing naked on the roof tops for the king to see. She has come along way since the days when her lover conspired to kill her husband. She has come such a long way from the days she quietly retreated to background of life. She has regained her footing, she has moved in redemption, and she has become a very colorful rock in the mosaic of Biblical discourse. I love her, and we have not yet seen her take her final resting place.

What I love about this particular lesson is this, she has come all this way, and yet operates with grace, humility, self-worth, and integrity. There is no apparent baggage and hard edges. There are seemingly no defense mechanisms that she uses to excuse ill-conceived behavior. She has sought and received forgiveness. She has forgiven herself. She has grown in faith and wisdom of God, now she warrants attention for the Beauty she is, not the great beauty she was.

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