In last month’s article, we explored the humility of Jesus Christ and how we are to follow in His footsteps by being emptied of self and filled with God’s Spirit. But what does the humility of Christ look like in our daily lives? Most people think of humility as being quiet and never doing or saying anything to rock the boat. If you have read the gospels and the book of Acts, you know that is not what humility looks like. Jesus said to learn from Him, so let’s look at the lives of Jesus and His followers.
We already know that Jesus was humble and submitted to the Father. However, it did not mean He was quiet, passive and apathetic. It meant He was not self-oriented. His whole purpose was to do what the Father did and say what the Father said – no self agenda. And the results of this submission were powerful deeds and powerful words! Deeds that brought healing, made the blind to see, cleansed leprosy and even raised the dead. And teachings that delivered truth with authority the people had never heard before.
Jesus’ words were not always popular. Especially when He warned the scribes and Pharisees of their pride and hypocrisy saying, “ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” He spoke clearly and plainly to them to show them the error of their ways, not to condemn them. (See John 3:17) People need to hear the truth if change is to be initiated. This wake-up call could have released them from the trap of pride and freed them to follow God. Instead, it made them angry to the point of plotting to kill the Messenger. The disciples, on the other hand, eventually heard Jesus’ words with their hearts and followed them. Again, speaking to His disciples and the multitude about the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men…and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren…But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23) Jesus was teaching His disciples and the multitude the right voice and the right example to follow. He was telling them not to follow the example of the religious leaders or fall in step with their motives. They were to follow His example and His voice.
Henry David Thoreau said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” If we step to the music of the Pharisees, it will lead to emptiness and religious bondage. But if our heart is open to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, He will lead us into all truth, power and freedom. When we have ears to hear the rhythm of God’s kingdom, we will not be in step with this world. We may be considered fanatics, narrow-minded, dreamers or trouble-makers. But that is okay if we are following Jesus. He challenges us to listen, then “step to the music” of His Spirit, “however measured or far away”. Jesus was bold because He was humble. He simply carried out the will of the Father with no thought for self. He calls us to do the same.
Remember how the disciples were afraid right after Jesus was arrested and crucified? They were afraid to be identified with Him because they did not want to suffer the same fate. They were protecting self until Jesus appeared to them, alive from the dead. He was with them for forty days teaching them the things of the kingdom of God. His promise to send the Holy Spirit was fulfilled not many days after His ascension. When the disciples received the Holy Spirit, self was forgotten. They began to listen and follow the Spirit’s leading. They began to do what Jesus did and say what Jesus said because they had the same power living in them, and the same voice guiding them.
They received the power of the Holy Spirit. The word is dunamis from which we get the word dynamite. It is the force of God’s Spirit changing us and working through us with His energy and force. The word dunamis means “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature (God’s nature in us), or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” The power within them became the river of living water that poured out of them and changed the world forever. We can be world-changers, too, when we receive the power of the Holy Spirit and keep in step with Him.
After the infilling of the Spirit, Peter stood up and addressed a huge crowd of people including the religious leaders who killed Jesus and the crowd that had called out “Crucify Him”. His message was all about Jesus. Here are a few of his words. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Peter had no guarantee that those words would not cause the crowd to do to him what they had done to Jesus. But he boldly proclaimed the truth with no thought for himself because the people needed to know the Truth that would set them free. And the Spirit brought in a harvest. “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”…Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:22-24, 36-40, NKJV)
Bold! Selfless! Purposeful! Dynamic! Would we have been bold enough to plainly tell the religious leaders and the people that they were murderers of the promised Messiah? But Peter and the others were filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and they had a holy boldness to speak the truth Jesus spoke. Have we received this Spirit? We have the same Holy Spirit available to us today, right now! We can ask and receive.
After Peter’s message, about 3000 people believed in Jesus, were baptized and joined with the disciples. On another occasion, Peter and John went to the temple to pray. Outside the temple a lame man was asking for money. Peter told him he had no money, but what he did have he would give him. What do we have to give? The things of this world will pass away, but if we are filled with the Spirit, we can pour out spiritual blessings on others. They will last forever. That man was healed in Jesus’ name and began to walk, leap and praise God. Once again, a large crowd gathered and Peter took the opportunity to preach Jesus to them. The number of believers grew to 5000. This time the religious leaders arrested them, and demanded to know by what power or name this man had been healed.
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12 NKJV)
The rulers were highly upset because they were preaching and healing in Jesus’ name. But a notable miracle had been done and witnessed by the whole crowd, so they just threatened Peter and John and told them not to preach or speak in “this name” again. “But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 NKJV) That is listening to the Holy Spirit and keeping in step with Him.
Peter and John left the rulers and elders and reported what had happened to the other followers of Jesus. Then they all began to pray. “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)
They prayed for boldness, not self-preservation or even a change of heart from the religious rulers. Notice they immediately received the boldness they requested and continued to speak in Jesus’ name, just like Jesus had told them to do. What happened to their meekness and humility? Shouldn’t they have kept quiet? No! Were they not being defiant? No! They would have been defiant if they had disobeyed Jesus’ command. Jesus told them to preach the gospel to everyone regardless of what happened to ‘self’, and regardless of whether they were rejected or accepted. Meekness is bold as a lion proclaiming the Word of God and doing His works, yet it is quiet in proclaiming self and never tries to use the power of God for selfish causes. It is not showy, arrogant or vindictive. We need to pray for boldness to keep speaking God’s Word. In this day of political correctness imposed by those who hate and deny Jesus, it is easier to stay quiet, but the world needs the light of truth now more than ever in this present darkness. We are to speak the truth plainly and point others to Jesus Christ in love so they can repent and be baptized. Souls depend on us.
Listen! Do you hear the music of the kingdom? When you do, be sure to “step to the music” you hear, “however measured or far away.”
Be Humble - Be Filled with the Spirit - Be Bold