Digression 7: The Word And Humility
If we are truly sensitive to the word of God then we will find it requiring us to do things in response to it which naturally we recoil at. Thus true obedience to the word must be associated with a true humility, a willingness to submit self to the will of God in ways which really hurt. The following make this clear:
- We are born again by the word (Jn.3:5 cp. 1 Pet.1:23). This power of new life in the word continues to act upon us whenever we have contact with it; our response to it should give us the humility of a child if it's power of rebirth operates upon us. Thus Naaman's final submission to the word of command concerning baptism resulted in his flesh becoming "like unto the flesh of a little child" with its associated implications of humility (2 Kings 5:14).
- Josiah is a good example of humility to the word: "When the king had heard the words of the book of the Law, that he rent his clothes". Huldah, speaking on God's behalf, noted that "thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake" (2 Kings 22:11,19). How is our response when a new understanding of the word's teaching in practical, everyday issues stares us in the face from the pages of Scripture?
- Israel "obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction" (Jer.17:23), implying that to be truly sensitive to receiving instruction is like bowing the head in humility, rather than stiffening it upright in pride.
- "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to...walk humbly with thy God?" (Mic.6:8) alludes to Dt.10:12,13: "What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to...keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes", thus equating obedience to the word and humility.
- Dt.17:19,20 is explicit: "He shall read therein (in the book of the Law) all the days of his life...that he may...keep all the words of this law (aided by his familiarity with it)...that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren".
- Israel were fed with manna to humble them (Dt.8:16); and the Lord reasoned in John 6 that the manna represented the word of God.
- Because our response to the word should humble us, God may choose to humiliate those who do not respond in humility to the word. Israel's humiliation at the hands of their enemies is a prime example of this. "Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept My ways, but have been partial (A.V.mg.:"Lifted up the face against") in the law" (Mal.2:9). Thus having a semi-spiritual, "partial" attitude to the word is the same as being proud against it.