October 31, 2015

Humility Fosters Peace & Unity

Posted in Humility, Love, Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:17 pm by tclickenger

I wrapped up my post on the Advantages of Humility by mentioning that there are two more fantastic benefits.  Also, in my post on The Dangers of Pride I identified through scripture that pride causes separation, strife, contention and division.  It only follows that humility would bring the opposite results but, so we can know for sure, God spells it out in His inspired word.  Those are the benefits you are reading about today.

I believe the best introduction to these benefits and my thoughts on them would be to share how I came to discover that humility fosters peace and unity and how this began my study on this highest of virtues.

If you have read the page titled About Koinonia here on this blog or if you know me personally, you know how passionate I feel about unity of the Christian faith.  In the middle of the year of 2010 I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed by how enormous the problem of division is within the body of Christ.  I was thinking, “How in the world would all of these divisions be once again united?  What is the key?  And how can one man do anything about it?”  While studying one night on unity I came across a quote from a book called Organic Leadership, by the author Neil Cole.  In it he wrote, “We strive to be unified, but this is the wrong pursuit.  We look for things we share in common.  We try to tolerate differences under the banner of unity.  When we try to be united, we are just made more aware of our differences.  But when we pursue humility – true humility – unity is the natural by-product.  We cannot get to unity by chasing after it.  The door that leads to unity is humility.”

At the time I thought this was a secular book on leadership and so I said to myself, “That sounds good, but is it biblical?”  I then began to search the Word for passages on humility and it’s antonym pride.  Wow!!  So much material!!  God blessed me so much.  I wouldn’t even be actively searching for insights on humility and they just kept coming my way wherever I turned.  One example is, I don’t usually listen to sermons on the radio but during that time I did a few times and whenever I did, there happened to be a message about humility, pride or on one of the specific manifestation of humility or pride.

Now the quote from Organic Leadership say, “The door that leads to unity is humility.” but during this time I remembered it as saying, “The gate by which we enter into unity is humility.”  I think this was a divinely inspired misremembering (is that a word?).  There is not a whole lot of difference between these two sayings but I think you will understand the significance of slight variation as I explain what happened later.

It was roughly 4 years later when I came across scripture that piqued my attention.  It was

Psalm 118:19-20, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD.  This is the gate to the LORD, Through which the righteous shall enter.”

When I read this I just knew it was the confirmation I was looking for.  I was like, “Yes!  Yes!  This is it!!  What is it?  Tell me, please!”  Then the next verse reads,

Psalm 118:21, “I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation.”

What?!?  What is this gate you talked about, David?  I don’t get it.  How is an answer a gate?

Thankfully I had been studying the Hebrew language for a while so I decided to look at the original language to see what was being said exactly.  What I found was that the word for “answer” in Hebrew is “anah” and while this word does occasionally mean answered, it most often means humbled.  Now that makes sense.

This is the gate to the LORD (oneness), Through which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise You, for You have humbled me, and have become my salvation (Yeshuah).

David is thanking God that He has made David small enough to now fit through that gate.  I don’t know about you, but that is just beautiful to me.

Well, this post seems to be running long.  There is still so much to share about the relationship between humility, peace and unity, and I really want to get this part published right away,  so I’m going to make this a part 1 and continue this with a follow-up post (or two).

 

Lord God, Father of my soul, thank You for revealing the way to oneness with You.  Both in the words inspired to our spiritual ancestor David and the living example of Your Beloved Son.  I pray for all my brothers and sister who haven’t turned over their prideful soul and self to death and resurrect in the Spirit, in the humility, power and love of Christ Jesus.  Please help their blindness.  Help them to recognize their need for smallness, not greatness, that permits us to enter into Your fellowship.  Give us assistance to become empty of self that we may become what you created us to be, in your image and likeness.  That we may be love as you are love.  I pray we become the kind of people that when you look upon us you say, “Levi” (levee) My heart.

Amen

Additional posts in this series: In the wake of humility…The Dangers of PrideIt’s Time to Hurt Your Pride, …but there are times when pride is a good thing and Advantages of Humility.

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December 14, 2014

The Dangers of Pride

Posted in Humility, Unity tagged , , , , , , at 5:08 pm by tclickenger

In my last post I mentioned four advantages gained through a humble character.  In a near future post I intend to show through scripture the many other benefits this virtue brings.  Today, though, I want to assess the consequences that are brought into our life through living out of a proud heart.  I am only going to list and briefly describe the problems associated with pride for now.  Each problem will be explored in more depth later in this series.

I mentioned how we assume that we already know what humility is and that we (additionally assume) are already a humble person.  That leads me into the first problem associated with pride.

  • Pride is deceptive.  This can also be expressed as blindness, darkness, unable to see or lack of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

Galatians 6:3 NKJV, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind.”

Jeremiah 13:15-16, “Hear and give ear; Do not be proud, for the Lord has spoken.  Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness.”

Jeremiah 49:16, “‘As for the terror of you, the pride of your heart has deceived you, O you who live in the clefts of the rock, Who occupy the height of the hill.  Though you make your nest as high as an eagle’s, I will bring you down from there.’ says the Lord.”

Proverbs 4:18-19 NKJV, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”

  • Pride is destructive.  This is probably the most mentioned consequence of pride throughout the scriptures.  Because this principle is true, firm, unyielding, a law of reality, it is in opposition against anyone who ignores it whether intentional or unintentional. By its very nature, this principle worked against either Israel or their enemies, God’s people or the enemies of God’s people.

Proverbs 16:18 NKJV, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

  • Pride is foolishness

Proverbs 14:3 NKJV, “In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”

  • Pride precedes captivity

Jeremiah 13:17 NKJV (God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah), “But if you will not hear it, My soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, Because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.”

  • God opposes the proud.  This is quoted verbatim in three different places in our bible and is alluded to in at least 24 other passages.  If you don’t wish to lock horns with the Lord, be a competitor with the Lord or be His adversary then it is sage advice to make yourself humble.

Proverbs 3:34 NKJV, “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6 NKJV (quoting Prov. 3:34), “But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'”

1 Peter 5:5 GNT (Quoting Prov. 3:34), “In the same way you younger people must submit yourself to your elders.  And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, ‘God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.'”

  • Pride separates.

Psalms 138:6 NASB, “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.”

  • Pride causes strife and contention.

Not only does pride cause separation between God and the prideful individual, it causes separation between other individuals.

Proverbs 13:10 ERV, “By pride cometh only contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

Proverbs 30:32-33 ESV, “If you have been foolish, exalting yourselfor if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.  For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.”

  • Pride causes shame (disgrace, embarrassment, insecurity)

Proverbs 11:2 WEB, “When pride comes, then comes shame, but with humility comes wisdom.”

  • A proud, haughty man is revolting to God

Proverbs 16:5 NIV, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”

Pride should be avoided as diligently as humility should be pursued.  I’m hoping I can present the contrast between pride and humility so well that it compels you to desire humility.  I hope it causes you to desire it so strongly you are willing to endure anything God needs to do to make it apart of your very being.  Do you have any stories to tell that are a good example of any of these principles?  How about times in your own life where you once were proud but found a better life in the brokenness?  Please share your stories and any other comments or insight that you may have.

I pray God blesses you generously, giving you grace as you generously give others grace.  I pray for your heart.  That all traces of pride might be removed from it along with all the harm that it brings.  In the name of Jesus, our most perfect example of humility and selfless love I pray.  Amen

Additional posts in this series: In the wake of humilityIt’s Time to Hurt Your Pride, …but there are times when pride is a good thing, Advantages Of Humility and Humility Fosters Peace & Unity.

July 25, 2010

Harmony

Posted in Poetry, Unity tagged , , at 9:23 pm by tclickenger

Harmony,
How I long to see the splendor of your face
But from carnal minds you’re hiding
And with fools there’s no confiding
Woe is me,
Shall I never cease, expecting your embrace

Harmony,
In the bounds of understanding you will stay
With your sister Peace beside you
And with Gentleness to hide you
Trinity,
You avoid the mass confusion of our day.

Harmony,
With the signs that time has scattered one should see
That mankind is so uncaring
And his sin is overbearing
Seems to me
That this hope to unify will never be.

Harmony,
Just to know the well of wisdom that you give
With each step in your direction
There could be a resurrection
Instantly!
Then in clouds of sweetest grandeur we could live .

……………………………..Rodney Roberts

May 17, 2010

Is Christ Divided?…Continued

Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:09 pm by tclickenger

As I finished my post on the division of the church (Is Christ Divided?), I asked the questions “So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?” What is the way to unity? I have read a number of messages that insist that unity must be based on truth. It seems to me when someone is saying that, they are just trying to insist that their beliefs are “the truth.” I went on in my post to quote James 3:17-18.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To put this in context we need to go back a few passages and read James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

So he is describing the qualities of the character and temperament of someone who has a mature measure of Godly wisdom and understanding. What I feel God is telling me in these passages is that we are to not only consider the message of the speaker but also examine the speaker himself. The verses 14 through 16 explains some attitudes and qualities that indicate the message is not from God. Then 17 and 18 some attitudes and qualities that indicate that it is.

As a disclaimer, note that when examining the speaker you cannot base your discernment from a first impression. You need to get to know the speaker, examine his conduct out of the pulpit as well as in it. Not just when he is speaking about God but in his everyday communication. A red flag should go up if he is talking more about himself than about God. Is he so convinced of his doctrinal views that he wouldn’t even consider hearing something that is in opposition to his current beliefs? In writing this I recognize that I am not exempt from this examination and welcome it.

So lets look at the qualities of one, as James said “Who is wise and understanding among you”

  • He is first of all pure – Pure in motivations. Without a hidden agenda.
  • Peaceable – They are more interested in the relationship they have with you than that your views are in agreement with their own. They don’t become angry or argumentative over a different belief.
  • Willing to yield (submissive) – Willing to yield to good reason. If the view they are presented is more reasonable than their own, they are willing to abandon their previously held belief for a better one.
  • Full of mercy – The individual that is wise with the wisdom of God will be more spiritually mature than those they are teaching. The spiritually immature are always getting offended about something and usually respond with offensive behavior. You will find that the one who has the wisdom of God is always extending mercy to everyone. I have personally received that mercy many a times.
  • Full of good fruits – The fruits this is referring to of course the fruit of the Spirit. Those qualities are pretty self explanatory.
  • Without partiality – Receives all people where ever they are in their development. Knows that truth can come from any of God’s children.
  • Without hypocrisy – You will find this person consistently displaying these characteristics. In the best of circumstances and in the most difficult. With their best friend, with their harshest critic, with their persecutor, with someone who has made themself an enemy to him.
  • Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    So again, what is the way to unity? Of course, we should all work toward being unified in “faith and knowledge” but from my understanding of the scriptures, unity is established and held together by peace. How is unity established and held together by peace? Is it our job to put peace in our hearts or does Jesus do this without any effort on our part?

    May the peace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, be with you and may he prepare our hearts to receive his truth.

    January 9, 2010

    Is Christ Divided?

    Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:59 am by tclickenger

    My first blog post ever.  What is Koinonia about?  The short version of what it’s about is Christian unity.

    One of my brothers in faith recently posted on his FB wall, “One Mind One Body One Purpose thousands of Denominations? Go Figure!”

    I don’t know what he meant by “Go figure!” but I believe this multitude of division is a terribly serious condition that warrants strong consideration.  Does The Word of God, the final authority in all truth, have anything to say about why we would have this sort of condition in the church?

    The Apostle Paul had something to say about this in 1 Cor. 1:11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions (disputes) among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” (divisions, denominations)

    Does this sound familiar? “I am a _______” you insert the denomination title. The term “denomination” has its roots in mathematics. It is a division of a number. You are probably most familiar with it from working with fractions, where we have a numerator and a denominator.

    13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

    Continuing in this thought, Paul begins to compare the wisdom that starts and continues these divisions with the wisdom of God.

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    James had some writing that was very similar to Paul’s on this topic.

    James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, (Would you consider these attitudes that would cause disputes and divisions?) do not boast and lie against the truth.

    Is this such a serious condition that we need to concern ourself about it?

    15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

    Sounds pretty serious to me. In fact it is so important that Jesus said that being ONE is the one and only way that the world will know that we believe in the word of Jesus!! Paul even wrote in the book of Ephesians that being ONE was the ultimate end purpose of God in creating all things (Eph. 1:9-10). Wow! You can’t get much more serious or important than that.

    Notice again, James compares the wisdom that is behind these attitudes with the wisdom of God.  He even goes on to say that this is evil and demonic.  So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?

    17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    I pray that any pride I have in myself is destroyed and never sets my thinking up against the revelation of God and His truth.  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God.