By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
A truly humble and lowly state of mind – who can achieve it in this world? We all are a part of a deluded “mutual admiration society.” We are forever encouraging one another to “Think more highly of ourselves than we ought” (Romans 12:3). When it comes to true humility, it looks like we just can’t get there from here. But the Word still stands, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Eph 4:2). But, how can we be meek, when we are convinced that it is “all about me?” We are a people swollen with the contagion of pride. We talk about our pride daily in our common conversation as if it is a virtue, rather than an aweful sin and abomination before God, which scripture explicitly and emphatically declares from Genesis to Revelation that it is (Proverbs 16:5; Malachi 4:1; 1John 2:16).
I think the antidote for this “I – ism,” this dreaded “ME” disease, this “self on the top shelf” culture we live in is a spoon full of truth – hold the sugar. What manner of creature are we, in the first place? Listen to the words of holy patriarchs and wise men, and let it go deep down in your heart. Abraham said, “I am but DUST and ASHES” (Gen 18:27). David said, “Surely men of low degree are VANITY, and men of high degree are a LIE: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” And he said, “I am a WORM” (Ps 62:9; 22:6). Paul said, “If a man thinks himself to be something, when he is NOTHING, he deceives himself.” And he said, “I am NOTHING” (Gal 6:3; 2Cor 12:11). James said, “For what is your life? It is even a VAPOR, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). And, even our Lord Jesus said, “Why do you call Me good? There is ONLY One Who is good. That is God” (Mark 10:18 NLV). We likewise, must fall in line with their confession. We MUST acknowledge that we ourselves are nothing, so that we may be filled with the ONE who is really Something, and Everything, and THE Thing.
So, for a moment, let us consider us. God created us, it says, “naked” (Gen 2:25). Thus, there are three big handicaps, with which we must all contend — Human Nature, the Human Condition, and the Human Predicament. When we rightly consider these, we shall see that there is absolutely nothing to be proud about.
Human Nature makes us all the same – messed up when we come into the world. From birth we sin, lie, and transgress. As a pastor once so quaintly put it, “We come into this world ‘toe up from the flo’ up!’” It’s a given. We just won’t do right. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the Bible says. And, “There is not a just man on earth who doeth good and sinneth not” (Eccl 7:20), it further says. “Mama, I’m messed up!,” we must all confess, if we are honest. Absent the mercy of the Most High, we sin, and do wrong, and act contrary to God so easily and naturally, that we are completely HOPELESS.
The Human Condition renders us all totally impotent to do God’s will, in the first place. Even on a more level playing field, apart from our inveterate sinfulness, the will of God can really only be performed by God himself, as a necessary condition of his eternity, his holiness, and his oneness. (This is so thoroughly deep, I am not even going to try to address it further here). Aside from the grace of the LORD, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get the will of God done from here. We desire, we hope, we try, and we fail. That’s the chorus of life. Any other outcome is only actually God’s grace masquerading in our humanity. And, that’s the story of all flesh! Even our Lord Jesus confessed, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). So, since Jesus said that, then we should not feel bad. But, even his confession seems little consolation to a heart that wants to please God, and cannot find a way. We find it so, as Paul explained, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that you CANNOT do the things that you would” (Gal 5:17). So, aside from the grace of the LORD, we find that we are utterly HELPLESS.
The Human Predicament explains that we all are subject to the purpose for which God alone has created us, and no matter how greatly we may struggle against it, we will end up becoming nothing more, nothing other, and nothing else but what God intended in the first place. There absolutely is a thing in place for the human race called fate, and no one escapes it. In cold, harsh reality, there is no such thing as “rise above,” where God’s purpose is concerned. Through many different conventions, the scripture teaches repeatedly that we all are what we are, we do what we do, and we get what we get, because God willed it so. In other words, from Romans 9, we learn that Jacob had to be Jacob, Esau had to be Esau, Moses had to be Moses, Pharaoh had to be Pharaoh, you have to be you, and I have to be me. And, favor ain’t fair. So, we are what we are, and we can be nothing else. So, outside of the purpose of the sovereign God, we are absolutely HAPLESS.
So, is this fatalism?? Are we just to throw up our hands in exasperation and resignation and say, “Then, I can’t serve God.” Absolutely not, brothers and sisters. Only by this, does God have us exactly where he wants us. This is exactly where fate is met with a thing called faith. Faith responds to the hopelessness of human nature, the helplessness of the human condition, and the haplessness of the human predicament, with the sincerest engagement of a sense of accountability, dependency, and trust in God. Faith says, “Yes, I’m just a sinful human being, but because of Jesus Christ, I do believe You love me, God.” And, with a right perspective then, true faith is born, lives, and thrives. God does love us, just the way that we are – the way He made us, spiritually naked. And, he will help us, give us hope all along the way, and receive us into his everlasting arms, when we die.
But, being fully mindful of our own nothingness before Him, we may enter his presence with the acceptable attitudes of humility, lowliness of heart, contrition, and a meek, quiet, and penitent spirit. These constitute the more godly “spirit of mind” before the Lord — being infected with neither pride nor vanity. We simply MUST “come down off our high horse,” lest God bring us down. This understanding then becomes part of our very solid foundation for serving God. I have simply come to completely acknowledge before God, that without Him, I am nothing, know nothing, and can do nothing — except sin, transgress, be miserable, and die. But, after my daily prayer sessions end, I am filled with faith and a right state of mind. This is the wonderful miracle of sincere faith. And so, the word says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). Amen.