Friday, September 26, 2014

Humility Leads to Joy

After hearing a sermon on humility recently, I found myself pondering the humility of Christ; specifically, the humility required to submit to death at the hands of His enemies. In searching the Bible for the reasons He did this, one reason stood out: According to Hebrews 12, He did it for the joy! Verse 2 tells us that “…for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame”. For Christ, the ultimate humility brought Him ultimate joy: To save His people, and to sit down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Thinking on this brought me to the realization that the greatest reward of humility and obedience to God is joy. I have not felt joyful for a really long time. Trouble seems to be piling up lately, and I have found myself more and more anxious and stressed by earthly events, becoming depressed and weary. But I have come to realize that humility and submission to God’s sovereignty will enable me to trust Him. And when I trust Him, anxiety, worry and fear make way for joy.

Joy: The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation—Webster’s Dictionary

What could be more exceptionally good or satisfying for our Savior than sitting down at the right hand of God? I, too, will one day be in the presence of God. Will I have this joy? I believe I will, if I can be humble and obedient, as He was. I am now on a quest for joy through humility. Here are some observations to which the Lord has led me:

When I am humble, I can submit to God’s authority and providence in my life, even if His choices would not be mine. I can see myself in light of His holiness and perfection and understand that His ideas are better than mine. This gives me joy because I believe that everything He does is for my good and His glory—two things I desperately want, and could never bring about on my own.

When I am humble, I can trust God because I know he is much wiser than I am. As I seek to make decisions about my life, I know that there is one Great Authority who has written down everything I need for life and godliness. When I, in humility, point myself and others to the Word of God, I am relieved of the burden of worry about whether my decision/advice regarding the future is correct; and I have no regret about past choices because they too were directed by my sovereign, loving God. This makes room for joy.

Finally, when I am humble, I can have joy even if my children are unsaved. While my flesh would tend to despair over their eternal fate and worry about their unregenerate lives on earth, my heart and soul can rejoice in the knowledge that my children are in the hands of God. I know Him better each day, and each day I am more convinced of His love for me; His abundant mercy and pardoning grace; and ultimately, His sovereignty over the lives of those I love. Even (especially?) through tears of pleading for their souls, I can be joyful.

As I have applied this thinking to areas of struggle in my life, I have found my attitude changed in several ways: I love the Word of God more, because I find I must turn there more often to keep myself humble and submissive to God’s will in circumstances. My natural inclination is to fix, rescue and control. In humility, I can wait, pray, and trust. I am also less anxious about the future, because I know that my loving and wise God has it perfectly in His hands. Instead of worrying and “what-if-ing”, I can obey the Word of God that tells me to seek His kingdom first, knowing that all my needs will be supplied. If my loved ones are in trouble, I don’t worry and try to fix their problems. I pray for them, hoping that the Lord will use their trials to bring them to Him, just as he did with me.

Focusing on humility has brought me much relief from stress, and given me back the joy of the Lord that I had when I first met Him. What will keep me joyful as days and years go by? Continuing to focus on Christ, meditate on His humility, and eagerly look forward to the joy of being with Him forever.