I like succinct and to the point.
Take away the fluff and just give me the intended meaning. And it seems to always arrest my attention when I read something like “3 ways to better your productivity.” or “Get fit in 5 easy steps.”
Some years ago I was listening to a message on a couple of verses that have radically changed my perspective.
Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
I was struck by the fact that, though God is aware of all things, He says that He takes special interest in three things. And He does not beat around the proverbial bush – He names what they are. And so over the next few posts, we will look at what gets God’s attention. Today we will dig into the first: humility.
God notices humility
I am now 50 years old and have enough years behind me to make some “things I have learned” statements.
And one of those is that my spiritual life rises and falls on humility. Pride has been the catalyst for many heartaches; humility has been the catalyst for much joy. Listen to what Andrew Murray said about humility:
Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.
Do you see why humility is the first in the trio of which God says He takes note?
If you study out the phrase “this is the one to whom I will look” in verse 2, it has the idea that God regards, pays attention to, or considers certain characteristics of people. It means that God observes with favor, pleasure, or care those who model these specific attributes or qualities.
God notices humility in the pursuit of my wife
“Antone, pursue Stefanie like Jesus pursues His church.” That is what I am instructed to do in Ephesians 5:25.
I have been married for 27 years, and I really did not understand that statement and what it meant for me until the last 5-7 years. Pursuit means that I am not distracted by other things. Pursuit means that I have a bulls eye at which I am always aiming.
And the more I considered this idea of pursuit the more one word overcame me: impossible. “How am I to do this, God?” And as God sanctified me in this area, there was less control, less making my point, less harsh words. God let me see the results of loving on my own terms and in its place started growing humility in my life.
What has humility looked like in action for me?
Serve her. Build her. Move away from being right and move towards showing grace. Lead…to Jesus, by showing what He looks like. And it has made for the best 5-7 years of our entire marriage.
God notices humility in the loving of my kids
As a dad, I often thought that raising my kids meant showing strength (having my game face on), always being right, and quick to correct. I am glad the Gospel showed me otherwise before I really pushed my kids away.
As God has shifted those views of parenting, He has shifted me away from a focus on wrong behavior to an emphasis on my own brokenness and need for grace in my own life.
And I am certainly grateful for God doing that, because I am realizing this: I have amazing friendships with my adult kids today, and daughter-in-law, not because I “did things right” but because God starting growing humility in my parenting.
It is freeing to be authentic with my kids, to speak of my own brokenness but only as a segue to speaking about how Jesus is rescuing me. That my weakness actually speaks more loudly than my strength.
God notices humility in the investment of my friendships
Sometimes in leadership, it is not difficult to assume a position that I always have an answer for any given situation. In other words, I like to hear myself talk. But as God has had me press more into His humility, I find myself listening more. Listening so that I understand more of their story instead of pushing my interpretations into theirs. Listening so that the Spirit of God has opportunity to work even when I am not.
And in listening with an intent to understand instead of talking to be understood, I find more channels to step in and offer my story with Jesus being the hero of it.
God is omni-aware, yet in His being infinite, He pays special attention to what most illustrates my dependency on Him…and that is humility.