Sunday, October 29, 2017

Humbling Circumstances

Humbling Circumstances
October 30, 2017
Romans 12:3 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."

Paul wrote in one of his letters, that by the grace given to him, he was able to advise us all to be humble on our own accord, by our own volition. To understand his statement, understand first what he meant when He said, "by the grace given me." This sentence was written in the 12th chapter in his letter to the church in Rome. Scholars believe this was one of his last epistle's written, about 57 A.D. Scholars also believe it was written about a year or two after his second letter to the church in Corinth. Recall in 2 Corinthians Paul talked about his thorn in his flesh. He said he prayed and prayed that the Lord would take it away after the thorn was given to him. Someone or something gave Paul a thorn in his flesh. Regardless of the literal meaning of his thorn, Paul said it was given to him to keep from being conceited, and that God's grace was sufficient for him to endure throughout all of that situation.

Paul's thorn in his flesh was meant to keep him humble and that he had to lean on God's grace to carry him during that enduring circumstance. No one knows if the thorn was every even removed throughout his life. But we do know Paul learned to lean on the Lord's grace. Fast forward to his letter to the church in Rome and he alludes to the Lord's grace in his life from the thorny circumstance. Basically he tells the church in Rome to trust him when he says you should be humble on your own accord. Paul knew from experience it was better to be humble on your own than have the Lord grant you a thorn in your flesh to keep you from being conceited. We have been warned, like a parent telling a child to learn from the mistakes of those who have experienced it already.  Humbling circumstances have a way of humbling us. Paul said to humble yourself so the Lord doesn't have to for you. Learn from Paul's experience, though few of us will.

Each of us has something in our lives to keep us from being conceited and arrogant. You think you did it on your own? Keep thinking that and the Lord will be quick to grant you a thorn, possibly permanently. For some of us, if life is easy, then we don't need the Lord. That is exactly where the Lord does not want us, on easy street. Easy street is the least path of resistance to arrogance. Jesus said it was hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, not because they are rich but because of the tendency to lean on wealth in this world rather than lean on the Lord. Paul needed to lean on the Lord at all times and his thorn helped him do just that. 

Few of us learn from our parents who tried to warn us from their own mistakes. Paul attempted to warn us, to humble ourselves with sober judgment. It is easier to humble yourself than live with a thorn. Humbling circumstances are mean to do just that, keep us humble. There is a perfect way to avoid humbling circumstances. Humble yourself, on your own, unlike Paul, and you can avoid the humbling circumstances. Think of your situation in life right now that gives you the most anxiety, the one you spend time wishing you could avoid it. That circumstance may be there to keep you humble. If you didn't have that situation, you might think you don't need the Lord. I have one, a humbling circumstance, it keeps me grounded and forces me to depend on the Lord. Without it, I may become conceited and think I don't need the Lord, that I can do it all on my own strength. Some of you are where you are because you haven't learned to lean on the Lord or you haven't learned to rid yourself of conceit. It is only the arrogant that need humbled. Examine what is humbling you right now.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matthew 19:23-24, 2 Corin 12:1-6

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