God the Holy Spirit Works Through a Humble Human Spirit

Sometimes we are spiritually tested by failure. On these occasions, we must guard against bitterness, entitlement, self-pity, and jealousy of the success of others.

Other times we are spiritually tested by success. On these occasions, we must guard against pride, bragging, a lack of empathy for others, and false sense of superiority.

John the Baptizer was raised by poor ministry parents in a remote and rural area. Around the age of 30, he began preaching, and his ministry exploded! Within a few months, he had perhaps thousands of followers – a megachurch meeting by a riverbank.

Curious as to why he was trending, the religious leaders sent out a committee to investigate. In John 1:19–21, they asked, “Who are you?” They then asked if he was the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet promised by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). He simply said, “No.”

This was John’s success test. The poor kid could have become rich; the unknown guy could have become the rock star; the one who worshiped God could have been worshiped like a god. Saying no is hard – especially when saying yes carries some serious benefits.

In this moment, John was demonstrating something you cannot get a minor in at college: humility. It is the opposite of pride, which our culture raves about. It has been said that humility is not thinking less about yourself (beating yourself up, dragging yourself down), but instead thinking of yourself less, which allows you to think of God and others more.

The Bible has a lot of good things to say about humility, and nothing good to say about pride. Jesus’ brother and lead disciple both say, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’ ” (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6).

Humility literally means “to know your place.” John was humble enough to accept that his place was not the place reserved for Jesus Christ. Jesus was also humble enough to accept His place. Humility allows us to accept who we are, what God has asked us to do, and how God invites us to serve – and to be content with that role whatever it is. None of us, starting with me, can ever claim to be humble, so it’s something we’ve all got to work on.

What area of your life could currently benefit the most from humility?

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