For quite some time, my grandchildren have pestered me (They might prefer the word encouraged.) to write my life’s story. To date, I have resisted their blandishments for multiple reasons—some laudable (There are far more important things that should occupy my time.), some not so laudable (Laziness.). Among the most significant reasons, however, concerns the issue of humbling. Some of the most critical moments in my life involve times when I was brought low by the Lord, times of great humbling so personal, intimate, and appropriate to my sin, my failing, or my need that they are extremely uncomfortable or even inappropriate to share in any meaningful way. But any accurate and worthwhile biography must contain accounts of such moments if the truth is to be told and God, rather than man, is to be glorified. And the additional truth is that few things are more personal, powerful, and precious than being humbled under the mighty hand of God. For it is in the humbling that believers discover how little and worthless we are in ourselves and how utterly dependent we are upon the grace of God. And with that humbling comes a deepening love and thankfulness for our Savior and Lord.
God is in the business of humbling His own. Interestingly, the heading over the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy in my Bible reads: “God’s Gracious Dealings.” Among those gracious dealings were God’s humbling of His people during their wilderness wanderings. Three times in this chapter, God reminds Israel that humbling is an integral part of His grace.
“You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (v. 2).
“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (v. 3).
“In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end” (v. 16).
Note four facts mentioned above concerning humbling. First, humbling tests a believer. Among other things, it tests our faith in the Lord; it tests our love for the Lord; and it tests our obedience. Second, that testing, then, reveals what is in our heart. We may profess faith, love, and obedience with our mouths, but God’s humbling work reveals whether those are merely words or the reality of our life. Third, humbling reveals to us the priority of the Word of God: that it alone can guide us along the treacherous path we tread; that it alone can offer substantial strength, comfort, and encouragement to faithfully follow the Lord. And finally, humbling is God’s means of preparing us to receive all the blessings He wishes to bestow on us—blessings that, without the humbling, would produce self-destructive pride, self-righteousness, presumption, and ingratitude.
Humbling by God was not unique to God’s people, Israel. Writing to the New Testament church, James commands, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (4:10). And Peter echoes his words, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:5, 6). Certainly, God will step in from time to time and humble us, but as these verses reveal, God gives us the privilege to humble ourselves, to bow down in worshipful obedience to the Lord and His commands. Nothing is more Christlike, for “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). To be Christlike is not to be praised and exalted but to willingly submit to being lowly before the Lord and before those He has placed around us. And though some humbling should not be shared with others, it is God’s work of making us nothing and Himself to be everything that alone is truly worth sharing.
Previous Page | Next Page