Devotions

Humility for the Powerful

There’s a particular photograph somewhere of my grandfather (on my dad’s side).  He was a tall, strong man, who had worked with his hands to provide for his family for decades.  In fact, I remember that he had to get a more robust wedding ring, because when he would bear down with a wrench, the force would distort a regular gold band.  In this picture, he is holding a baby who happens to be my oldest son.  (Despite my son having inherited some of his great-grandfather’s genes, and being a tall kid both then and now, he actually looked normal-sized next to my grandpa.).  The camera captured this moment, where this giant of a man was tenderly holding his grandson in his arms, showing love by keeping his great power under careful control.

In that light, consider these verses from Paul’s letter to Titus:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Titus 3:1‭-‬2 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/tit.3.1-2.NIV

In light of all of these instructions: obedience, service, gentleness, and so on, I see a picture of Godly humility.

In my mind, humility and gentleness is like my grandpa keeping his strength in check to hold his great-grandson, and this is the sort of behavior we’re called to in this passage.  In Jesus’ name, we have access to the power of God through prayer, yet we are called to use our abilities for the service of others and the growth of God’s kingdom.

Yes, we have the power to promote change, but when we are tempted to use our power to slander others, to malign those who are different from us, or to abuse people nearby, we should remember this passage and instead direct our God-given rights and capabilities towards serving in His kingdom.

And, of course, if we want a good example of what it means to live out a life of goodness, gentleness, and humility, we don’t have to look any further than Jesus Christ.  With access to all of the power in the universe, Jesus chose to come to earth as a baby, and grow up: not to tear down governments, but to build up the Kingdom of God.  Not to destroy others who were wrong (including sinners like us), but to give up His rights to save them (and us).  Jesus used His power to love and to serve others.  He even took the time to bless children (Matthew 19:13-15).

Philippians 2:6-8 describes this sort of humility.  So, let’s read these verses above one more time, and think about how Jesus was obedient: from paying taxes to a pagan government, all the way to giving up His life for our salvation.  He did good to others, He did not slander (although He spoke the truth), He was peaceful and considerate, and He was gentle.

In that light, let us consider that if we are truly Christians (meaning “little Christs”, defining how we are expected to behave), how can we do the very same things?   We have access to unbelievable power, but we’re commanded to use what we have for a cause greater than just ourselves.  If Jesus Christ could do that, I think that we can, too.


Based on Sunday School lesson prepared for November 22, 2020.

References:

  • Christian Standard, Volume CLV, Number 11, pages 85-86. © 2020 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, by C. Michael Moss. Ph. D.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1994.

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