Thursday, March 15, 2012

Humble Yourselves

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7

Third, rest keeps us humble. It helps us maintain perspective on our place in the grand scheme of things.  A period of withdrawal from our usual responsibilities – without cell phone or email – can demonstrate powerfully that we are not as indispensable as we had imagined.  As Charles DeGaulle once said, "the graveyards are full of indispensable men."  

Somehow, even in our absence, the important tasks still get done and the company manages to stay in business; somehow, the earth continues to revolve on its axis and the sun continues to rise and set.  And this is a good thing. This is healthy.  Because when we become too grandiose in thinking of ourselves as essential, then we become either arrogant and prideful, or stressed out and depressed.  Either way, we’re taking a load upon ourselves that only God is equipped to bear.  

Taking a break helps us to put the weight of ultimate responsibility back where it belongs, on God’s shoulders, rather than ours. And if things do fall apart when we’re away, then we need to restructure our work so that others are not so dependent upon us to get their work done. 

Fourth and finally, a time of resting from our labors reminds us that it is God who provides what we need, and not we ourselves. Yes, we usually have to work to obtain food, and clothing, and shelter. But ultimately, everything we have comes from God as a gift. Even the ability to earn a living comes from Him. As Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:7, "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" Remember what Christ taught us:

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? . . .
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

Again, the focus here is on the fact that it is God who provides for our needs. Stopping our work for a time reminds us of that fact. It is also an act of faith. That can require a lot of commitment when the farmer needs to get the beans planted, and it’s been raining for two weeks solid, and the first day the fields are dry enough to get the tractors in the field is a Sunday. But his confidence has always been in the Lord to provide for his needs. And so he is content to cease from his labor one day a week, regardless of the circumstances.

This last reason for rest, reminding us that we are wholly dependent upon God, is important, because it ties in directly with the fact that salvation is a gift from God and that salvation is by faith alone, not by works. When we trust in Christ, we are resting from our efforts to make ourselves acceptable to God by our own effort. We are ceasing from our vain attempts at self-righteousness. We are coming to God with empty hands, confessing that our only hope is to receive Christ’s righteousness as ours, because our own righteousness will never be sufficient.

Scripture to Claim:
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

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