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Interplay of Wisdom and Humility

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I may have written about this before. I’m not really sure. I know there was a period in which I talked about it a lot. Anyway, I’m thinking about it now. Two verses in totally different parts of Scripture incited my ruminating about this concept and what it looks like in life. Proverbs 11:2 makes the simple statement, “with wisdom comes humility.” And much later in the history of the Scriptures, the ever blunt James talks about “the humility that comes from wisdom.”

I’m intrigued by how when one of these two character traits are present, the other characteristic is inevitably on its way. One cannot be both wise and arrogant. Intelligent and arrogant, sure. Clever and cocky? Absolutely. Insightful and proud, very possible. But wisdom is something different. Wisdom walks hand in hand with humility, and if you get a hold of one, you will find yourself holding the other. I want wisdom. My lack of it lately has been so destructive to my life. It’s been so limiting and I have been constantly held back and have often held others back by my own foolishness.

Years ago, just beginning my Jesus following, I knew I needed to be humble. Not knowing how to do that after being cocky, arrogant, and proud of it my whole life, I decided instead of pursuing humility, I would pursue wisdom and trust that the words of Scripture were true. It worked. The more wise I became, the more clearly my position in the world became. Differences between myself and others became increasingly blurry as I saw more clearly the beauty and glory of the one who created us all. I became humble as I saw the things that truly mattered in life and the things that didn’t. As I discovered the meaning of actions, words, touch, beauty, joy, and the necessities of love, I found humility a necessity to actually be wise – to actually live out a life that is truly life.

I love what the verse in James 3:12 says, Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. Beautiful idea. Truly living involves a life with an overflowing cup of good deeds. I want this verse to be true for me. But, I am in a different spot now. I don’t have wisdom. I don’t see anything with clarity. I don’t feel like I have the capacity to pursue wisdom. What I have right now, is a whole lot of humility. My lack of wisdom has led to developing pride which led to increasing foolishness and then a shattered pride. Here I am, with nothing but nothing. I’m humbled greatly now. Not that I have “great humility,” that’s a misnomer. But rather I have nothing left to fuel my pride, and so I’m left with humility. That leaves me with humility and hope. Hope for something better. Great. Unimaginably great. But first, I need wisdom. Now I’m approaching it from a different route, but may God make the results even greater. May He give generously to all without finding fault, and may God see it fit to grant me wisdom to go along with my humility. And then, a life that evidences both without saying a word.

BTW, I’m in need of a full body deep tissue massage and I lost my massage therapist, any takers?

Silly Little Things

August 11, 2008 Leave a comment

You know when I ask, “Why God, why?”  It’s not when I see something horrible on TV where hundreds of people die or when I hear horrible stories of what has happened to individuals.  I understand why that stuff happens.  I don’t even ask “Why?” when terrible things happen to me or to those that are most intimate with me.   My soul understands how the fallen world is an evil one and I am content to know that a good and loving God is there in the midst of all pain.  I ask God why when the little things come up.

Today I got a bee sting.  I’ve had many bee stings in my time.  I don’t even really mind bee stings.  They are usually surprising and unpleasant, but not a big deal.  Today, even though I didn’t mind the bee sting or care that I got stung, things were different.  My body started itching and I could feel my lips getting numb.  Then my eyes started itching and my hand and face started swelling a lot.  This progressed and eventually I had to go into freaking Urgent Care.  So stupid.  These are the things I just don’t get.

At least with pain and suffering, there is meaning in it.  Being hurt and experiencing evil suck, but their very suckiness draws me before the throne of my loving God, compelling me to find life, wholeness, beauty, and goodness in him.   Because the experience is more significant, it drives me toward the pursuit of significance and the negative force against me builds my character.  But this little piddly stuff, this stuff I hate.

I hate it when a car breaks down.  I hate getting a debilitating fever.  I hate getting stung by a bee and suddenly having it be a life-threatening situation.  It feels like such a waste of time, money, and thought processes.  It completely interrupts my schedule and makes my time totally unproductive, and yet it is such a small deal.  It’s a bee sting, who cares?!?!?!?  The crappy part is, now I can’t just get stung by a bee, take vengeance, and go about my merry way.  Now I might die every time I get stung.  Why God?  Why all of the sudden am I now not impervious to bee stings?  Why didn’t you just keep me from getting allergies?  Why didn’t you just take away my swelling and heal me so I didn’t have to waste your time and money on petty things?  I know God is capable, He just didn’t do it.  Humorously, and revealingly for those that see through me, I kind of wanted my lungs to swell up and suffocate me to death instead of going to the hospital.  It would have been my way of spiting God.

I think highly of myself.  I think I’m worth a lot.  I think my money is precious because I work so adamantly to spend it in a way that loves God by making a difference in the lives of people.  Because I spend my money well, then I think God should give me more and free me from being forced to spend it.  I think my time is precious.  I think that my time is worth more than insignificant trips to the hospital.  I have always had a strong body that responded well when fighting illnesses and didn’t overreact to things, therefore I should not have life threatening body related issues at age 23.

The main problem is not that my time was wasted today, that I had to spend money on health care, that my body swelled up, or even that I will now always have to worry about bees.  The problem is that I still suffer from a soul of pride.  My time really isn’t worth that much.  I don’t spend all that much time doing significant things.  When I do, I’m really not that effective, and when I am, it is only when God is.  I really don’t spend my money that well.  I think too much of myself.  I’m really not impressive.  I’m really not that good.  I really don’t deserve God freeing me from my possibly deadly allergic reaction.  It’s his prerogative to allow me to have it and take it away.  If He wants me to have it, that is perfectly just and fair.  If He chooses to remove it, that is only because of His mercy that give me an undeserved gift.  It is not my job to spite God or make Him act how I think He should, but it is my job to love God and act how I think He wants me to.  I cannot let pride take hold or keep hold.  I have to see the bigger picture , see the reality that even a mundane trip to urgent care is loaded with meaning and purpose when I am humbly living a life oriented toward God alone, and not to myself.  Sometimes (read: almost always) I have trouble living out all that I know to be true.

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