A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let’s dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.Henri Nouwen
A couple of months ago I was reading and writing about the Beatitudes. I’m returning to that now – picking up where I left off. I’m reading Our Good Crisis* by Jonathan Dodson. His work is thought-provoking – I highly recommend his book.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.Matthew 5:5 MSG
Pride can take many forms.
At its core, pride is a problem with comparison.
Most often when we think of pride, we think of the person who needs applause. The opposite is the person who is constantly putting themselves down, needing approval. Both ends of the pride spectrum are evidence of self-centeredness. But Dodson points to a third form of pride – a middle pride. I had not thought about this before. He describes it as putting oneself at the center – our own opinions, our preferences as truth. In all three instances we are comparing ourselves to others without regard for our identity in God.
Exaltation of his words without emulation of his ways develops a body of believers with big mouths & small hearts, wholly convinced of their biblical rightness yet oddly bereft of Christlikeness.Beth Moore, Tweet
What is true humility?
True humility is death to self! Our approval and applause comes from God. We no longer worry about ourselves, seek to defend or protect ourselves. We have nothing to prove. Instead we die to self, recognize our need for a Savior, confess that we have a bent towards sin, that without Him, we can do nothing! We trust ourselves fully to the One who saves us.
He leads the humble in what is right,Psalm 25:9 AMPC
and the humble He teaches His way.
If pride is a result of comparison, then humility is achieved when we compare ourselves rightly. We see God for who His is – high, lifted up, omniscient, all powerful, majestic and mighty. And we see ourselves as He sees us – we are His clay, His workmanship – the created ones. We are also His children, chosen, beloved, redeemed. We say with Isaiah, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” At the same time, we hear God saying, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Our humility is understanding that our identity and worth
are wrapped up totally in God.
We depend on Him!
And in all we do and say we give Him the glory!
The promise given is that the meek will inherit the earth. For the Jewish listeners, this promise reminds them of their father, Abraham. In Genesis 12, when God called Abram, he said then, “to your offspring I will give this land.” We are reminded n Hebrews 11 that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all lived in tents, never occupying the promised land, but always looking forward “to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” And so in Matthew, as Jesus teaches about kingdom principles, kingdom living, the meek inherit the new heaven and the new earth coming down out of heaven from God. This promise of an inheritance has been extended to both Jew and Gentile — we joyfully give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light! We have a glorious inheritance as his holy people!
At that time the disciples came to ask Jesus, “Who is considered to be the greatest in heaven’s kingdom realm?” Jesus called a little one to his side and said to them, “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable like a little child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this little child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm.Matthew 18:1 – 4 TPT
My prayer today – Father, your word reminds me what you require – to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you. I want to have a teachable spirit, a right understanding of who I am in your eyes, and a winsome gentleness. Help me to loosen my grip on my need to be right, my need for approval from others, and to desire You, Your smile above all! Amen.
*Dodson, J. K. (2020). Our good crisis: Overcoming moral chaos with the Beatitudes. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press.