F – PERFECTING THE HEART – 6
What a goal our Lord has set for us in Matt.5:48! Perhaps a review of the meaning of “perfect” would be in order as we begin this lesson. Perfect is described as complete, mature, blameless. God is all this and so much more. 2 Sam.22:31 God is described as perfect in knowledge which is something we can never be for we keep growing in knowledge. Job 37:16; 2 Pet.3:18 God is perfect regarding His law. Ps.19:8,9
The statement, “God is God and I am not”, comes to mind. This realization is the beginning of humility as we realize this isn’t our world. It belongs to God. As Christians, we belong to God, also, for we are not our own. Slaves were purchased by their owner. We have been purchased by our slave-owner that loved us so much, He died for us. 1 Cor.6:20
Realizing that we are not our own and that we still sin, we are in the process of perfecting our heart. Paul realized that he was not yet perfect but he “pressed on” in this process. Phil.3:12 He recognized the help we have to keep moving toward perfection until Jesus returns. Phil.1:5,6 There are times we get “stuck” in the first teachings of the gospel without moving on in the process of perfecting our heart in maturity. Heb.6:1
Examples of humility are given in the Scriptures. One is Moses as found in Num.12:3. Jesus was humble even though He was the Son of God. Matt.11:29 His actions proved His humility and gives us a powerful example. Jhn.13:5 Washing feet was one of the lowliest tasks of a slave, yet Jesus was washing the feet of His disciples. Jesus wanted His example of humility to pass on to His disciples. Jhn.13:15 Not only was it humbling for the Son of God to come to earth as an infant and go through life as a man, but nothing could compare with the humility he suffered in the events prior to His crucifixion and then the crucifixion itself. Phil.2:8
Not only are we given examples of humility but we are also given examples of the repercussions of the absence of humility. The Israelites had not obeyed God in many respects so God was angry with them. When they humbled themselves before Him, God’s anger ceased. 2 Chron.32:26 The Israelites had to wander 40 years rather than 12 days because they would not obey God. When we don’t obey God, we put ourselves first rather than Him. Deut.8:2
Scripture is full of instruction to be humble. Mic.6:8 God requires this of us. Pride is the opposite of humility and does not produce good results. Prov.16:18 God takes special regard of those who are humble. Isa. 66:2 The humble are special to God as opposed to the haughty. Ps.138:6 Humility is like a sacrifice to God. Ps.51:17
Humility is a characteristic for which Christians are to strive. Col.3:12 Certainly a humble person would not brag or be arrogant. This attitude would not be conducive to love. 1 Cor.13:4 Humility is part of our walk in Christ. Eph.4:1,2
A human trait is to desire to be first, to have the top position, to be the best. If we are perfecting our heart, we will want to do our best—but not to be the most important or first. Two of Jesus’ disciples had this desire to the dismay of not only Jesus but the rest of the apostles. In Matthew the mother of James and John asked a favor for her sons. Jesus answered in Matt.20:26,27.
As we think of perfecting our heart in humility, think of the questions God asked Job in chapters 38 and 39. Who did this or that was asked 13 times in NASB version. The question, Can you?, was asked at least 7 times as was the question Do you?. Other questions were Where?, Have you?, Will you?, Is it?. Man may think he is very smart and wise but as we think of the knowledge and wisdom of God, we need to humble ourselves as Job did in Job 40:4.
We need to take the advice of Paul in Rom.12:3. Too often we think of ourselves too highly. When we succeed, it comes from God and that is where the glory needs to rest. 2 Cor.3:5 As we see growth in the Lord’s church, so many have had a part. Some plant, some water, but it is God that gives the increase. 1 Cor.3:7
We, as human beings, have no right to be proud for even though we may have righteousness through Jesus Christ (2 Cor.5:21), we are yet sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. Lam.3:39-41 A Pharisee stood on the corner praying. He was proud that he was not like other men. However, the tax collector cried out to God for mercy as he realized his sinful condition. Jesus expressed His thoughts of these two. Lk.18:14 We can look upon these two who were far away in history, but can we ever see ourselves in the light of the Pharisee? Be honest!
The importance of humility in perfecting our heart is evident in 2 Chron.7:14. We are commanded to be humble and God will reward us. Jam.4:10 Peter sums up our Christian life in 1 Pet.3:8,9. To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Let us press forward to inherit that blessing in humility!