Do you want to grow in the Lord this year? To dismiss such an aspiration would be pagan! Of course, you desire to grow in the Lord this year.
What makes growth possible? Dr. Randy Ross and David Salyers in their book Remarkable! astutely note, “The oil that makes growth possible is humility…humility is an acknowledgment of our humanity. It is the awareness that we are not perfect…Unfortunately, many people are stunted in their growth because they are self-deluded, believing things about themselves that simply are not true.” In our reading for today, you will find the origination for this wisdom in Scripture.
After washing the world of belligerent evil, God desires a restart with Noah, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1). He sets a rainbow in the heavens as a symbol of peace in this new chapter of the saga of man’s relationship with God. Like a “sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” man cannot help but return to sin. Noah, maybe innocently, grows a vineyard and becomes intoxicated. Wrong on its own, but the pattern of volitional sin arises when Ham “saw the nakedness of his father.” The language of cursing reappears as you see in the Fall in Genesis 3. Man’s nature is cursed!
Ezra receives the same disappointment. The promises of pursuing holiness eroded so quickly. The people had failed to follow through on their commitment to be consecrated to God. The world had taken residence in their lives. Instead of issuing curses, Ezra becomes an advocate for the people as he offers up prayers of repentance.
The age-long nemesis met its match in Matthew 9 where Jesus demonstrated his authority to forgive sins. He says to the paralytic man, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). As easily as he reverses the physical infirmities, Jesus heals our spiritual infirmities. The necessary ingredient in the man’s life was humility.
You couldn’t find a drop of humility in Saul as he was tearing through the province persecuting the church. He was trying to cut a straight line with bent scissors. he was truly self-deluded “believing things about himself that were simply not true.” The perversion of his nature meant anything done in his strength was inevitably skewed. Jesus confronted him, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). Peace was achieved only through humility.
In order to be in God’s way this year, in order to grow and realize your potential in the wisdom and strength of the Lord, you must anoint your life with humility. Stop the delusion. Stop believing things about yourself which are simply not true! “Submit yourselves therefore to God…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:7, 10).