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June 17th, 2012

This devotional is part three of some early excerpts from a book I’m writing on humility.  A humble mind thinks in simple phrases like “I don’t know” and “Help me understand.”  This week’s expression of humility is “Me, Too.”

 

We Americans love our freedom.  It’s one of our core values to believe what we want, say what we think, and gather with others who agree.  As an American, I like my freedom of religion and freedom of speech, but I don’t always like what others do with theirs.

I cringed when a Mother’s Day sermon by Rev. Charles Worley of Providence Baptist Church in Maiden went viral.  He preached a sermon in which he proposed fencing in homosexuals until they die out, since they can’t reproduce.  He was free to say it, but even as someone who has a conservative understanding of sex and marriage, I was embarrassed by what he said.  He certainly didn’t speak for me.

 When sermon excerpts go viral, it’s a good bet their theme is not humility.  Worley’s sermon reminded me of President Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Then-candidate Obama had to resign his membership in Wright’s church in 2008 because of a 2003 “God damn America” sermon that went viral.

In America you can believe what you want and say it out loud, unless you are declaring your intent to hurt someone.  Then you can find others who share your beliefs and call it a church.  Hanging around every week with those who agree with you will make you feel very certain about what you think and say – the larger the crowd, the greater the confidence.  Your words will sound wise to everyone in the building, unless they go viral and people outside your circle hear them.     

Freedom makes America great.  It just doesn’t make Americans humble.  Freedom gives power to the people, and Lord Acton was right when he said that power tends to corrupt.  It alters our souls and makes us confident of our own rightness and righteousness.

I wish that were just a problem for Rev. Worley or Rev. Wright.  It’s a problem for me, too.  I don’t use my freedom the way the Lord intended.  I’ve noticed I get louder when I get prouder.

In Galatians 5 the Apostle Paul said the Gospel sets us free.  We should not use our freedom to indulge self and sin, however, but to serve one another in love.  That means we give up sexual immorality, hatred, and envy – sins of the body, the mouth, and the mind – and it means we let the Spirit bear his fruit in our lives.   Love, patience, and humility should be the fruit of my freedom.  It doesn’t always happen.

And sometimes I don’t see it. When my children lived at home, I remember becoming annoyed when they got up from the table in our breakfast nook.  They would back up their chairs into the window blinds, leaving them a mess.  I stewed over their thoughtless behavior.  Then one day I got up from my chair, turned around, and, well…you would never guess the condition of the blinds behind my own chair.  Talk about a “blind spot.”

I prefer to think God likes what I do and say to represent him.  From time to time God lovingly brings someone into my life who reminds me how far I have to go.  It’s not just everyone else who is messed up.  Me, too. 

Jesus spoke about those blind spots in Matthew 7.  He warned us that the standard of judgment we use on others will be applied to us.  He also noted the irony that we tend to see specks in the eyes of others while ignoring 2x4s in our own. 

Jesus wasn’t saying there is no right or wrong, or that we should never call sin what it is.  Our Lord himself modeled what it looks like to teach righteousness and confront evil.  But Jesus told us when we point out the sins of others we should be humble enough to say, “Me, too.”

If you have some thoughts to share on humility, e-mail me at [email protected] or write me c/o Corinth Reformed Church, 150 Sixteenth Avenue NW, Hickory, NC 28601.

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