Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Walk humbly

When life gets complicated, sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. I don’t know why the basics are often the first thing we forget, but when life turns upside-down or get so packed full of responsibility, there’s something in me that wants to twist off and just make things up as I go. And I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with that, but when you don’t know what to do or how to act or what choice is wise, the best place to go is back to the beginning. It’s not that we need to make up a new answer. Most of the time, the answer’s already in front of us; we just have to look for it.

Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Micah 6:8.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

This month I’m focusing on the basics, on what God expects from us, on how to make simple choices in a complicated life. What matters. And this post is part of a three-part series on this one verse, but walking humbly is something I struggle with. Granted I struggle with loving mercy too, but walking humbly is a whole different set of issues.

What does it mean to walk humbly anyway?

Well, all throughout the Bible when it talks about walking it’s usually just talking about living. Our lives are often pictured as a journey or a path on a road, and walking really is used to describe how we live. So what this really is saying is that we need live humbly. And that’s where the sticky part comes in.

What is humility?

Some people get it in their heads that humility is selling everything they own and living in poverty. Some people think that humility is considering yourself so low that you punish yourself or never say anything good about yourself. But are either of those really correct? I mean, yes, humility is a lack of pride. And living in humble circumstances usually means you don’t own much. And nobody’s perfect, so we shouldn’t take pride in being good people. But I don’t think that’s the kind of humility this verse is talking about.

Humility is more than just giving away your possessions or choosing to live in poverty or our self-image. Like faith, humility is a lifestyle. It’s not just one choice you make; it’s a series of choices flowing from the attitude of your heart. And that heart attitude comes from understanding who God is and how He sees you.

The Bible is full of all sorts of verses about how we shouldn’t think we’re better than other people. There are all sorts of verses about how we’re supposed to think about ourselves and our “good works.” And we’re never ever supposed to think that anything we’ve ever done makes us worthy of a relationship with God. But the opposite side of that coin is that God wants a relationship with us anyway. Maybe our best efforts are filthy rags in comparison to His righteousness, but that doesn’t change who He is and how He sees us. We are precious to Him, and that needs to affect how we see ourselves.

It’s not pride to realize how much God loves you. It’s not pride to accept His love and embrace a one-on-one relationship with Him. It’s not pride to be grateful for the possessions He’s given to you, as long as you don’t refuse to share them when He asks.

Pride is telling God He doesn’t know what He’s doing. And maybe none of us would vocalize that, but I can tell you I live like that. I worry. I try to control things. I try to take back the things I’ve given Him because I don’t trust Him enough to take care of them. I ignore what He tells me to do in favor of what I want to do or what makes me feel better. That’s pride.

Pride is trying to be the boss of your own life.

Humility is accepting that God knows better than you do, not just on one topic but on every topic. Humility is turning loose of everything in your life and letting God take care of it. Humility is recognizing who God is–the Creator of everything, the Master of everyone–and choosing to back off. He’s already Lord, and it’s our job to stop fighting Him.

That’s what He requires. That’s what matters. Do right. Love mercy. Live humbly.

But walking humbly doesn’t mean you keep your head bowed and eyes down. Stand tall. Be confident. Following Christ doesn’t mean you have to bow in defeat. Get that head raised up in victory and press forward. That’s not pride; that’s confidence. Get to know God and how He sees you, and you’ll understand.

So today, when all the worries and troubles and conflicts scatter across your path and block your way, don’t stop walking and try to move them yourself. If you try to stop and move them, you’re going to get stuck, and you won’t be able to move them anyway because they’re too heavy for you. Just keep walking and trust that God will take care of it before you reach them. And if it appears that He doesn’t move an obstacle, maybe it’s not an obstacle after all and it’s just a stepping stone.

Rusty pump well

Talking is good, but living is better

I know people who talk a lot. They can talk all day long about the things they can do and the places they’ve been, but when it comes down to actual action or serving someone else, they seem to forget everything they claimed to be. I’ve even met people who talk about loving to travel and loving to do big things for God, but when you give them the option to go on a mission’s trip, they aren’t willing to follow through.

And that’s fine. There are always circumstances, and since I don’t have a window into people’s hearts, it’s not my place to judge. It isn’t my place to judge anyway. But haven’t you experienced the same thing? Where you encounter other believers who are more talk than action? People who like to talk about God and talk about the things that God is doing in other peoples’ lives? Strange how those people rarely touch on what God is doing in their own life. They’d rather live vicariously through others.

Rusty pump well

Rusty pump well - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 4:20.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

When I first read this, I thought about that crazy movie, Kingdom of Heaven, with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson. It’s really an interesting movie because it shows what can happen when two groups of people pursue what they think is God’s will when they don’t really know who God is to begin with.

And actually, I guess that’s kind of fitting. Because in the Kingdom of Heaven movie, there’s a lot of talk going on. The Muslims talk about what God has called them to do. The “Christians” talk about what God has called them to do. The rallying cry on both sides of the battlefield during the Crusades was “God wills it!” but I don’t think either side had it right.

The book of 1 Corinthians in the New Testament is a letter written to the Church at Corinth by Paul. The Church at Corinth had major issues. I mean, serious issues. We think our churches in America are screwed up? Yeah, we got nothing on Corinth. We’re getting there, though. In any case, 1 Corinthians was Paul’s first letter to them, addressing all the really horrible things that were going on. And chapter 4 talks about Paul’s relationship with the Church of Corinth and how they have forgotten their place.

It sounds to me like there were people who had taken charge in the church who were full of nothing but hot air. And I don’t care what you’re doing, being led by someone who’s all talk is dangerous. Even in the business world, the secular arena, people know that following someone who is nothing but talk is a bad idea. Those people will sacrifice others to get their way. They’ll run from challenges because deep down inside they are cowards.

What Paul is saying is that God’s kingdom isn’t about talking. It’s life, but not just life, it’s a life lived with God’s power evident in every facet.

So what does this mean for us today?

Well, talking is easy. It is. Especially if you have a lot to talk about. I like to talk. And I’ve had a lot of experiences that make for great table conversation. But if I let the whole of my life be caught up in talking about the things I did in the past, what will I do today? If I get so caught up in talking about the things that God has done in other peoples’ lives, what am I doing for God right now?

Talking is good. But living is better.

And living to find God’s will is okay, but if all you focus on is finding God’s will for your life as a whole, you’re going to trample over the small opportunities He has for you right now. And you’ll trample over other people around you too. Seeing the big picture is important, but never forget that big pictures are made up of small parts.

So don’t just talk about the great things God is going to do. Go do something. Even if it’s small. Even if, in your estimation, it doesn’t count for anything. Because that’s what is so awesome about God because even something small can become something amazing with His power if you do it for Him. That’s living in God’s power. And that’s more than just talk.