Tag Archives: humility

Bring On the Red Ink

doggie dunceIt’s been years since I have taken a written test, but even as an adult I still get some well-suppressed jitters when the paper is handed back.  (That is, unless it’s all on computer; I’m showing my vintage, I suppose.)

Who doesn’t remember the composition class in high school with the completed assignment coming back marked up in red from the teacher?  And I only made it to trigonometry and “college math” when I was in high school—I begged off from calculus, thank you very much.  My first trig exam came back into my hands with something like an 11 out of 40 or 50. (I still distinctly remember that “11” at the top of the page.)

Thankfully, nursing school didn’t need calculus or trig, but since this was before the days of ubiquitous computerized machinery—or Google—we needed a special form of math that had to do with calculating IV drip rates, converting “household” and “apothecary” measurements into “metric” portions, and the like.  There’s no wiggle room in this kind of math—the patient’s health (and life) depended on it. 

I’m not sure what kind of memories King Solomon was drawing upon when he wrote this…

“To learn, you must love discipline;
    it is stupid to hate correction.”

…but he may have had a time when he also hoped his own personal physician hadn’t tried to cheat, fake or argue his way through medical school. 

To be a student of any kind takes discipline, and discipline takes humility.  It means embracing the (eventually inevitable) fact that I’m not smart enough on my own to get it right the first time.  Maybe not even the second or third.  That someone may actually know more than me.  That knowledge and skill comes only with persistent personal application, and that, in itself, comes with the price of time and sacrifice.

In reality, the dunce hat doesn’t belong to those who make mistakes, but to those who refuse to learn from them, and from others.

Your future “patients” will thank you.

Proverbs 12:1 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Doggie Dunce photo from StrangeDangers.com, Google Images

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Just Weight and See

A false balance is abomination to the Lord : but a just weight is his delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. -Proverbs 11:1‭-‬3 KJV

Dishonesty, or lying, is an abomination to God. Think about: He made it one of the 10 commandments! (#9, Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20)

Dishonesty denies the image of God in others. It is the same as saying other people are worthless.

It also leads to problems.

False Balances

Something to arise in the most recent recession (about 2008) was the business of buying gold. You can bring in your jewelry and knickknacks to be weighed and sold based on the current market value. If a merchant used poorly (or fraudulently) calibrated scales, they could pay you far less than the current value. (I spent a very short time doing this, and they usually purchased an average of 15% below market value to make a profit.)

Who does it profit? Obviously the merchant.

Wait and See

One positive to government regulation is that there are frequent inspections to stop people from falsifying their scales. Those caught had to pay huge fines and permanently close up shop. At worst, they also went to jail.

When dishonesty is used, it is usually found out. Just look at the news on almost any given day, when business and government leaders are caught in the act of deceiving people.

Usually, it is because their pride convinces them that they are smarter than everyone else or that they are above everyone else, that the rules don’t apply to them.

But wait and see, their deeds will catch up to them.

It may not be in this life, but there will be consequences.

However, living honestly and with integrity not only protects you from bad consequences in this life, but it can lead you to live like God, who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18), and to Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life.


Apostolic vs. Appropriated

Two ladies call out to the world in Proverbs 9: Wisdom and Folly.

The difference is actually striking.

[Wisdom] has sent her young women to call from the highest places
Proverbs 9:3

Wisdom sent her followers to the high places, the important places, to call to others.

Did you know the Greek word for “sent” is apestalmena, where we get the word for apostle: one who is sent?

Now look at Folly:

[Folly] takes a seat on the highest places
Proverbs 9:14

Folly takes the highest place, the most important place.

What Is the Difference?

When done apostolically, there is humility. Wisdom does not assume superiority (even when true) over other others but serves others.

Folly assumes superiority and appropriates what is neccessary – takes the important places, often by force and/or deception. There may be a false humility that can be attractive to others, but the true motivations tend to be selfish.

“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 14:8‭-‬11, NKJV


Ask (and Listen) for Wisdom

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. -Proverbs 8:8‭-‬9, KJV

God does not lie nor deceive.

Why, then, do more people not hear the truth of God’s Word?

People ignore God’s truth or devise ways to disregard it.

Case in point:

But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Luke 9:45

Firstly, fear and pride might get in their way. They are too intelligent and independent to simply ask (and then listen). Or they are afraid of the implications.

Secondly, God conceals it. Whether this is by not allowing them to understand or simply allowing them to remain ignorant, they never hear the truth.

Further:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:21‭-‬23

They refuse to understand.

Therefore, break from the mold. Seek truth. “Ask God, who gives generously to all, and he will give wisdom.” (James 1:5)


Debts & Promises

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1‭-‬5, NKJV

Co-signed

Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.

Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.

I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.

This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.

Leaving the Altar

You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.

And then we don’t.

We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.

Say, tithing.

But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23‭-‬24)

In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.

If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).

The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.

That is why Jesus sacrificed glory, comfort, and life: to forgive our debts and broken promises to restore the relationship. And He arose to guarentee it for eternity.


Adventures in Pride & Humility

Proverbs 29:23

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

A Secret Life

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to see the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Neither of us is particularly fond of Ben Stiller, but every so often he is in something we like watching him. This is one of those.

Walter Mitty is a quiet man who has a tendency to slip into daydreams and out of focus with reality. This occasionally leads to problems at work, in various conversations, and in his love life. When his job is endangered by a superior who is overconfident and displays this overconfidence by picking on weaker-willed individuals such as Walter, Walter sets out across the globe in a series of adventures to save his job at LIFE Magazine. Without spoiling the story too much, Walter finds a confidence he forgot he had, and his superior gets put in his place.

The Next Life

The difference in real life is that the consequences are far different.

If we live our lives overconfident of or full of pride in ourselves and what we can do, we can forget about God or think there is no need for God. This will bring us low … very low … to Hell. Eternal separation from God.

However, if we can live with humility, we will find honor. Humility is understanding the truth of ourselves, and the truth is that we need a Savior: Someone who understands us better than we ever could, knows that we are dreadfully sinful beyond our ability to overcome that sin, and was willing to take our punishment by dying on a cross. Jesus Christ took that punishment because He knows us so completely and loves us still.

If we are humble enough to know and accept this truth, we will be honored with Christ by the Father with eternal life!

Gracious Savior, thank You for Your love and sacrifice for our friendship. Help us to rid sinful pride from our hearts to be filled with true humility to seek You above ourselves and all else.


Pride Comes Before A Fall

Proverbs 21:24

Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.

How many of us have been warned in the past that pride comes before a fall? The saying is said to come from Proverbs 16:18 but there is a clearer definition of this age-old warning in Wiktionary: ‘A person who is extremely proud of his or her abilities will often suffer a setback or failure, because he or she tends to be overconfident and to make errors of judgment.’

Followers of boxing will be aware that fighters who swagger from the dressing room to the ring and ridicule their opponents often have cause to eat humble pie at some point during a fight. In some cases face meets canvas within seconds of the bell for the opening round. Whether down to overconfidence or basic errors in judgment, the result is the same. Members of the sporting press usually ridicule such falls from grace in fight reports, while the Internet means that the falls of the proud are recorded for posterity on YouTube.

Perhaps the writer of this proverb was talking about a different type of pride? The sort of pride that says man is all there is, and that God does not exist? The Psalmist calls such a person a fool: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.’ (Psalm 14:1/Psalm 53:1 NIV). If we deny God, then it could be argued that we are proudly elevating man to a position where he does not belong. Can man create a universe? Of course not. He can only speculate on how the universe came into existence. Sadly, many people spend hours engaged in proud but foolish speculation concerning the existence of God instead of humbly surrendering to Him and giving to God what is His. Paul spoke about this indirectly while teaching about the foolishness of loving money:

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:3-7, 20-21 NIV)

What is the condition of your heart reader? Are you a proud fool heading for a fall, or a humble servant surrendered to God and wealthy beyond imagination in God’s promise of eternal life?