Saturday, August 2, 2008

Humility in Light of Holiness

“And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.'”
Isaiah 6:5

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'”
Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah has just received a vision of the Lord. He has been given the indescribable imagery of the glory of the Lord, and he is overwhelmed. His immediate response to this breath-taking scene is to deem himself “unworthy.” He recognizes that, when sized up next to this all-powerful, all-knowing BEING, he is but a breath of hot air. He admits this freely. He is unclean, and not only that, but his roots are unclean. He comes from unclean people, so the legacy was begun long before him, and it will continue thereafter.

After Isaiah's first response (what his only response possibly could be), he then hears the Lord ask if anyone would be willing to do His work. Without hesitation, it seems, Isaiah (I can imagine with quite a degree of humility) jumps up, ready for the front lines. The Bible does not allude that he hesitates in any way, not even for a second. He is ready for the task.

Here's what grabs a hold of me in this passage: Isaiah volunteers for the job after he proclaims his unworthiness and the Lord's Holiness. He acts out of sheer Humility.

Merriam-Webster gives a few synonyms for this word: “not proud or haughty, not pretentious, unassuming, insignificant.”

Not until we come to this realization that we are insignificant does God consider us for His mission. He does not need our talents. He does not need our quick wit or ingenuity. He certainly doesn't need our impressive four page resume.

Our God is one who would wait until the college applications have all been reviewed and the scholarship winners announced. Then, He would bring up the ones not chosen, the ones who didn't meet the standard...and He'd use them. Why? Because now that there's no question about whether or not they have gotten a little too big for their breeches, they can be used for His perfect mission without the risk of ulterior motives.

In the sight of God's awesome power and might, we can do nothing but admit our insignificance and menial existence. (I know: Could we be a little more positive today?!) But it's true. God is worthy of ALL praise, and we are worthy of none.

Oftentimes, I am guilty of trying to jump immediately to Isaiah's second response: “Here am I! Send me!” instead of first admitting my own insufficiency compared to God's Holiness. Initially, that doesn't sound too awful, right? At least I'm willing to serve, right? At least I'm not sitting on my behind, right?

Not really.

God does not need me. In our self-esteem-starving world, we so desperately want to believe otherwise. But He does not need us. However, He does want us. He wants us to partner with Him and work for His glory and honor. But to do that, we must learn to put off our selfish desires. This means we cannot expect a pat on the back or a “good work” for the sacrifices we make or the behind the scenes tasks. These things must remain just that: “behind the scenes.” At least in this life.

My prayer is that I (and you too) will learn to train ourselves to immediately respond with Humility in light of God's Holiness. And then, let's see what He can do through us!

All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

"Humble." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1997.

1 comment:

  1. So I've been trying to make time to read this post. It's long. It's good too. All I can really say is.... spot on, and thank you Debbie Downer. Sometimes we need to hear the truth. It's His grace and humility that save us, not our perceived greatness within ourselves. You rock Cara.