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HUMILITY AND FAITH

By David Duris

 

Humility and faith are aligned in the Scriptures more than we may realize. True biblical humility is the realization of our total dependency upon God and prepares the heart for living in a posture of trusting God without having self-sufficiency or pride.

There are two cases where Jesus Christ spoke of individuals having great faith. In Matthew 8:10, Jesus Christ marveled at the centurion and said concerning him, “I have not found so great faith, no, not is Israel.” It was this centurion that responded to the Lord who offered to come and heal his servant, by saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof” (v. 8).

In Matthew 15, there is another account that Jesus Christ told a woman of Canaan, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (v. 28). This same woman, when seeking deliverance for her daughter, was told by Jesus Christ, “It was not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs” (v. 26). However, she responded by identifying herself with the dogs and said, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master’s table” (v. 27).

In both cases the individuals who displayed great faith equally displayed great humility.

In Luke chapter seven is a revealing account of two individuals who sought to be with Jesus Christ; however, their intentions were very different.

Luke 7:36-40:
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

It is interesting that Jesus answered Simon who did not ask him a question. Simon, who thought less of Jesus because of the woman whom He allowed to touch Him, would soon find out that Jesus was much more than a prophet.

vv. 41-50:
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

What is amazing about this account is that Simon was judging this woman, yet Jesus used this same woman’s actions to judge Simon’s condition. Both individuals had needs in their lives, but only the woman perceived her condition correctly and responded to Jesus with a posture of humility and as one who was indebted. It is interesting what she imparted to Jesus, (her tears, her kisses and her ointment), were at the humblest level, behind Him and at His feet. The woman knew her need, and emptied herself of her tears, oil and kisses for the feet of Jesus. Because of this she had room to receive all that Jesus gave which was forgiveness, salvation and peace.

In contrast, Jesus pointed out all that Simon did not provide for him: water for his feet, a kiss, and oil for his head. Simon never offered Jesus any of these provisions or assumed the humble posture of the woman. His only recorded desire was that Jesus would eat with him.

All of Simon’s actions, his failure to provide even the most minimal signs of hospitality and his judgmental attitude of both the woman and Jesus revealed the condition of his heart. With the woman’s actions of repentance, it was clear that she emptied her heart and thus had room to receive all the forgiveness and love that Jesus would impart. She thus loved much, and was forgiven much. The expression of Simon’s love for Jesus was minimal at best, and he showed no signs of seeking repentance, even after Jesus compared his actions with the woman. In the presence of Jesus he did not discern his condition of pride and had no room in his heart for what Jesus could have imparted. With no awareness of his true condition, which required forgiveness, but which was not sought after, he loved little. One should also note that they that sat at meat with him also had issue with Jesus forgiving sins, and like Simon judged Jesus within themselves. They never expressed these thoughts openly with Jesus, and tried to avoid the possibility of having their thoughts judged, which would reveal their true condition. Let us consider this record in light of our relationships with God and with others.

May we avoid the patterns of pride, which work against our efforts of faith. Then we can seek God in humility and honesty and perceive our true condition before him, which is that we desperately need God’s mercy and guidance in every facet of our lives. May we pray that God would graciously help us to be transformed into those who have humility, faith and who love much.

 

 


From the December 2006 issue of The Vine & Branches