by Mike Ratliff
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:12-16 ESV)
Humility is a not easy to get our minds around. The problem is that pride sometimes masquerades as humility. We naturally act humble from a motivation of pride. It is insidious. Also, most of us have a wrong idea what genuine humility is. Is a person who is self-deprecating humble? What about the person who boldly shares his or her faith with confidence? Our fleshly minds see the former as humble and the latter as prideful, when that is more than likely not the case. If the person full of boldness and confidence is emboldened by the Holy Spirit and their confidence is in our Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through them, then they are actually exhibiting Christlike humility. On the other hand, the one who is constantly tearing themselves down before others could be doing so from a motivation of false humility that is actually pride. The ones who are ready to serve the Lord and do so with enthusiasm and boldness are genuinely humble if their confidence is in God, not their own abilities. On the other hand, those who are always telling others that they can’t serve because they aren’t able are actually responding from their pride. They don’t want to look bad if they fail. They have no faith in God working through them. Do you see how insidious this is?
The genuinely humble believer is one who is available for the Lord to use as He sees fit. He or she has such confidence in their Lord that their humility is exhibited as, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” These see their affliction as in God’s hands and for His glory because He is Sovereign, He is the Potter and they are the clay.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:15-20 ESV)
Paul was in prison. The book of Philippians is his epistle to the believers in Philippi in Macedonia. It is one of his “prison epistles.” While in prison, others were deceitfully preaching the gospel hoping to torment him. Paul had passion for the gospel and these people knew that they were doing something that would surely cause him grief. However, what was his response? Christ was proclaimed and in that he rejoiced. Notice he told the truth about people who were deliberately trying to cause him pain. He openly said it. Nowadays, when those of us point out things that the Lord has revealed to be apostasy or heresy we are called un-loving and un-Christian. However, Paul, surely a prime example of genuine humility, openly tells us about those people. Then he tells us that it doesn’t matter because God is in control. The prayers of the Philippian Christians along with the working of the Holy Spirit would result in him being released from prison. However, even if that is not the case, Paul prays that he will not be ashamed, but will have courage even unto death or torture or both so that Christ will be honored in him. How many of us would be willing to offer up our bodies to be killed or maimed in order for God to be glorified in us?
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:21-26 ESV)
This sort of devotion is the result a life that is Spirit-led. Christians full of fear, resentment, anger, etc. are controlled by their flesh. They are not led by the Spirit. The Spirit-led abide in Christ and have His Joy. (John 15) Because of this, they can do Christlike things such as sacrificing their lives for the glory of God. Does this mean that I am saying that those who are Spirit-led are Spirit-led all the time? No, we all spend time suffering through seasons of doubt and despair as the Lord uses those times to burn away from our hearts that which is not of Him. We must learn to become Spirit-led and the Lord draws us into doing that. Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 2 is all about turning our hearts to God and becoming Christlike. Paul was willing to either die and go to Christ or continue to live so he could be used by God to help the Philippians learn how to be Christlike as well. Also, those who joyfully lay their lives down for the Lord are genuinely humble because they see the Lord’s will as far more important than their own. They are surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. They live within His Lordship. On the other hand, those who are not genuinely humble will be looking out for their own best interests above what God wills. Remember, the humble seek to line their will up with God’s while the prideful seek to line up God’s will with theirs. The Spirit-led seek only to do God’s will, but those who are not seek only their own way in all things. What will a life that is progressively becoming more and more Spirit-led look like?
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)
Genuine Christianity results in affliction and persecution. It is not of this world so the world hates it. The Compromised Church has made friends with the world so it will never experience these things to the same level as genuine Christians living their lives before the face of God so that the lost hate and attack them. Instead, some of these Compromised Church leaders are becoming super stars within society and with the media. The Compromised Church is so little different from the world and so spiritually blind that when they encounter genuine Christians they see them as old-fashioned in their beliefs and a threat to their “fun.”
I have shared in this space more than a few times how I and those with whom I minister have received persecution from that quarter far more than from secular humanists or Muslims or Hindus, et cetera. I have shared the gospel one-on-one many times and have seen God work the miracle of regeneration right before my eyes yet I have also been on the receiving end of very hostile rejection. I was even threatened once by an angry spouse who told me that she would call the police if I tried to talk with her husband about the Gospel again. It bothered me for days afterward. It was if a cold chill had taken over and was trying to overcome me. It was as if my own faith was being challenged. Why? I suppose it is that we somehow think that people want to hear the good news. Unless people are drawn to the truth by God they NEVER want to hear it. If they perceive that what we teach and preach and share is somehow a threat to them they will see us in that light. However, we must not worry about these things nor become consumed by it. Our role in God’s plan is obedience. We are supposed to have already counted the cost and seen that our treasure is in Heaven and so we obey even if it costs us our lives.
Soli Deo Gloria!