Monday, August 31, 2009

8/31- Seeking Humility

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

8/31- Philippians 2:3,4
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Calvin abridged: There are two very dangerous pests that disturb the peace of the Church: strife is awakened when people stubbornly maintain their own opinion and when it has begun it is impossible to stop. Vain conceit (vain-glory) tickles minds, so that everyone is delighted in their own inventions. So the only way of guarding against dissensions is by deliberately acting peacefully avoiding ambition. Vain-glory means glorying in the flesh; what is the basis of glorying in ourselves that is not vanity? “in humility”- For both diseases he brings forward one remedy—humility; Humility is the mother of moderation whose effect is yielding up our own right and giving preference for others. His definition of humility is when everyone esteems themselves less than others. This is tremendously difficult. Someone said, ‘Everyone has the mind of a king, by claiming everything for themselves.’ From this lack of humility comes contempt of the brethren. It appears everyone wants to be on Paul’s level, and everyone wants to have superiority. How is it possible for someone in a superior position [like a king or an employer] reckon those superior to him whom all know are greatly beneath him? This depends on a right estimate of God’s gifts and our weakness. If someone has great endowments, they should not think these are given so they might be self-complacent, or for self-exaltation or even to build up self-esteem. Instead they should use their energy to correct and detect their faults, and they will have abundant occasion for humility. But in others it is important to bury their faults with love and honor any good qualities.

Thoughts: These are two very important biblical verses. The divisions are often caused by pride (whether in the workplace, school, home or church). Spiritual pride and believing we know more than even the Apostles today has degraded the Church. Our divisions are also caused by our spiritual pride. We need to submit ourselves to scripture first and secondarily to others. Calvin gives very practical advice here on how to be humble- looking on our own faults and weaknesses, and valuing another’s gifts and strengths. I have often thought that having too many mirrors and looking in them too many times promotes narcissism. Today twitter and facebook can do the same thing- telling people every little event of our lives like the world should be interested can develop into self-centered thinking- which leads away from thinking of God and others ahead of ourselves.

Prayer: Today, Lord, may I put others above myself. Help me to not promote my own ideals, but to listen and care for the concern of others.

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