I can’t tell the difference between love and humility.
Most of us have been taught that the opposite of love is hate, and in some ways I suppose that is true. But for the Christian, the true opposite of love (which is to give up self for the good of another) is pride (to give to self regardless of the good of self or others.) And therefore, love and humility are practically the same thing.
This is why Jesus speaks so often of humility, and not just love.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is so all-encompassing, so imbedded into life, that it takes many pictures for us to truly see it. The Good News, that is, the way that heaven works and that God works with man, is all right there in Luke 14:11 – “Whoever exalts himself (pride) will be humbled, and he who humbles himself (love) will be exalted.”
It was in seeking to exalt himself (pride) that Satan fell and was cast out of heaven. It was in seeking to exalt themselves that Adam and Eve fell and were cast out of the Garden of Eden.
And it is in seeking to exalt ourselves that we become separate from God.
Most things in the spiritual life do not happen all at once, and separation from God (for those who have already been redeemed) does not happen all at once. Just as it took years for a Jeffrey Dahmler or a Saddam Hussein to become as bent and twisted as they were, it takes a faithful commitment to unfaithfulness and pride to completely walk away from God.
Little things matter in the Kingdom of Heaven, and no little thing is as large as the daily decisions we make to either exalt or humble ourselves before God. We exalt ourselves in a million minute ways, and because we do not have the grandiose pride of notorious evildoers, sometimes we don’t recognize our own pride before God.
How many times throughout the day does God say to you that there is something you have done that He did not want you to do and how many times a day that there is something you did not do that He wanted you to do. If we kept score at home, I suppose it would be nearly a full time job!
Consider: every time we have said “Yes” to what we want instead of what God wants, we exalted ourselves. And every “Yes” to self that is out of pride is a “No” to God. The new-fashioned word for saying “Yes” to self is self-esteem, but the old-fashioned word for saying “No” to God is sin.
God has invited us to His wedding feast! But some of us want to race each other to get the good seats, only to be told to go sit somewhere else. The way to enter the wedding feast is on our knees, scarcely daring to lift our eyes, hoping for any empty space on the floor. The way to come is humbly, saying, “I am not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs from under Your Table, O Lord.”
When we come as humble, penitent, obedient sinners, an amazing thing happens. God honors the poor in spirit, the humble, and invites them up to the best seat of all, which is in the presence of the Bridegroom Himself. To the humble, it doesn’t matter at all what seat God gives you because to those who are humble in spirit every seat is a seat next to the Lord at His Table.
To those who humble themselves before God, those who seek His will and not their own, God’s promise is this: you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. And that glory will be the glory of the Father, given to the Son, who willingly shares it with all who humble themselves before Him, which is to love Him.
Point for Meditation:
- What is one way that you know God is asking you to be more humble before Him?
- What is 1 small thing you could begin to humble yourself before God? Choose something small but frequent so that you might be encouraged in your resolution to practice humility.
Resolution/Prayer: Father, teach me to humble myself before you each day, to acknowledge you to be my Lord and that I am your slave. Teach me to enter into Your presence with love, seeking what You desire, and not what I desire. I am not worthy to eat the crumbs under Your Table, and yet I ask for nothing more than Your presence with me, which is my Daily Bread.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson