Monthly Archives: August 2013

Strength

act-of-valor-

I started this blog with a discussion on valor and how God put that strength in all of us to fight the battle. But what is that strength? Let’s look at a story:

There are 12 men in a detachment on a reconnaissance for a mission.

  • Assess the people: Are they strong or weak? Are there few or many?
  • Observe the land: Is it pleasant or harsh?
  • Describe the towns: Are they open camps or fortified with walls?
  • Check the soil: Is it fertile or barren? Are there forests?
  • And try to bring back samples.

With that they were on their way and scouted out the land for 40 days. On their return they presented themselves to their commanding officers and the captain reports their finding with this account: “We went to the land to which you sent us: the people are many and armed well. The land is plentiful enough that it fulfills all of their needs. The fortresses look impossible to break through.”  The warrant officer then steps in and says “We should go up and take possession, we can do it, and it’s in perfect position for our overall mission.” But the other men came out saying “We can’t attack those people; they are far stronger than we are. We scouted the land from one end to the other; it would take more than what we have to accomplish this. We need to find another way to accomplish our mission.” Another man steps up with warrant officer and says “The land we scouted is in perfect position to fulfill our mission God will give us that land.” The rest of the men in the detachment agreed with the 10 men in that detachment that recommended finding another way and harassed the 2 that believed they could take the land.

Who are the men that are humble with the thought of the protection of others and who are the men that are proud and selfish?

What comes to your mind when you hear humble or proud? Most of us will see strength in being proud and weakness in being humble. Let’s look deeper into what proud and humble are. We will start with the definition of proud in today’s dictionary:

  • Proud – 1. Pleased and satisfied about having done something or about owning something. 2. Fostering feelings of pride. 3. Having self-respect. 4. Arrogant, having an exaggerated opinion of personal worth or abilities. (Encarta Dictionary)

We have all experienced, in our lives, those people that have an exaggerated opinion about themselves and we know how degrading that can be. We have also experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing something special, and how uplifting that can feel. But have you ever experienced a downfall because of that pride? Here is the definition of proud that is almost 200 years old.

  • Proud – 1. Having inordinate self-esteem; possessing a high or unreasonable conceit of one’s own excellence, either of body or mind. A man may be proud of his person, of his talents, of his accomplishments or of his achievements. He may be proud of anything to which he bears some relation. He may be proud of his country, his government, his equipage, or of whatever may, by association, gratify his esteem of himself. He may even be proud of his religion or of his church. He conceives that anything excellent or valuable, in which he has a share, or to which he stands related, contributes to his own importance, and this conception exalts his opinion of himself.  2. Arrogant; haughty; supercilious. 3. Daring; presumptuous. 4. Lofty of mien; grand of person; as a proud steed. 5. Grand, lofty; splendid; magnificent. 6. Ostentatious; grand; as proud titles. 7. Splendid; exhibiting grandeur and distinction; exciting pride. 8. Excited by the animal appetite; applied particularly to the female of the canine species. (1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary)

Isn’t it interesting how there was such a shift in two hundred years of the main focus of what proud means? How it shifted its focus from self-conceit to satisfaction. So, just how far back does being proud go?

“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” (Ezekiel 28:17NIV).  Satan’s fall was due to his pride, his desire to want control. What better weapons does he have to use against us than the very pride that took him down and the control he wanted? Mark Galli in “Chaos and Grace” puts it this way “The original sin described here is not the raising of the angry fist before God, as much as it is stupidity and immaturity. And impatience. For all that the woman longs for in taking the fruit is something that God intends to give them in his good time and in his way. The original sin of the man and woman is indeed a form of pride, and more than anything, it is a desire to control the timing and process of their growth and maturity in God.”

What else does the bible say about being proud?

  • But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. (2 Chronicles 26:16)
  • When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
  • The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
  • Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
  • For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)

Another way Satan uses pride is a false since of humility, such as “I’m unworthy”. How many of us use pride to hide our fear? It is not so much that we think so highly of ourselves but that we think so low and try to cover it. We’re scared that we’re going to go out on a limb and believe God and He is not going to come through. We’re scared that God is going to fail or we are. We’re scared of what’s going to happen if it doesn’t work out. So we protect ourselves right out of our calling. Our mind wants to understand everything – the why, the when and the how of it all. Often, when that understanding is not given by God, the mind refuses to believe what it cannot understand. It frequently happens that we know something in our heart, but the mind, or pride, wars against it.

But what does it mean to be humble? Back again to my first blog and how the definition of virtuous that we have to go by takes away from Gods meaning. I think being humble has had the same kind of misrepresentation in how we define it. Here is the definition today and 200 years ago of humble:

  • Humble – 1. Make somebody feel less important, to make somebody feel less proud or convinced of his or her own importance. 2. Degrade somebody, to lower somebody in rank or importance. (Encarta Dictionary)
  • Humble – 1. To crush; to break; to subdue.  2. To mortify.  3. To make humble or lowly in mind; to abase the pride of; to reduce arrogance and self-dependence; to give a low opinion of one’s moral worth; to make meek and submissive to the divine will; the evangelical sense.  4. To make to condescend.  5. To bring down; to lower; to reduce.  6. To deprive of chastity. (1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary)

If you are like me neither one of these describes humble in a way that makes it sound appealing or, as I will share next, accurate with the strength that is behind it. Numbers 12:3 says (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Who wrote the book of Numbers? Moses. Does Moses calling himself humble, more humble than anyone, sound like today’s idea of humble or does it sound more prideful? Remember this is the Word of God.

Often in the bible, those who are truly humble are mistaken for being prideful or arrogant. David is another example when he stood up against Goliath, his brother said “I know your pride”, but David envisioned the battle through God’s strength. He clothed himself in humility while others who trusted their own strength viewed it as arrogant and proud.

So what does God mean with the word humble? In the book Relentless John Bevere states, “Humility as God designed it is a very positive, powerful character quality. True humility is absolute obedience and dependence on God. It puts Him first, others second, and ourselves third in all things. Humility has nothing to do with being soft-spoken and self-demeaning and has everything to do with living boldly, relentlessly, in the power of God’s free gift of grace.”

Let’s go back to the story we started with, who were the humble and who were the proud? The 10 men were relying on their own strength, their own pride. The two men humbly relied on God’s strength and believed in His promises.

Are you armed with humility in coming under the mighty hand of God, or do you have an appearance of humility but still operate in your own strength?

Don’t make your decision based on your thoughts or feelings; it may just be the pride of the enemy, but check with your spirit. The spirit/heart is the nobler organ and should always be honored above the mind. If we know something is right, we must not allow reasoning or pride to talk us out of it.

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