|Volume 24 Number 8 August 2022
The ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome believed in a multitude of immortal gods and goddesses who interacted with mortal men and women. The gods and goddesses had expectations for human behavior, and they punished those who broke the rules. One common theme throughout Greek and Roman mythology describes the punishments given to those who committed the worst offense – excessive pride or hubris (Edgar 2).
Hundreds of years before the Greek and Roman civilizations, God’s inspired penmen addressed the human condition of excessive pride. “For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty [prideful] looks” (Psalm 18:27 NKJV). “The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground” (Psalm 147:6). “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility” (Proverbs 18:12). God considers excessive pride an abomination (Proverbs 6:16-17).
Notice in the verses above that pride is contrasted with humility. The Old and New testaments praise those who are humble (Proverbs 15:33; 22:4; Matthew 18:4; Luke 14:11). Multiple verses command God’s servants to demonstrate humility (Colossians 3:12; Romans 12:16; James 4:10).
Several Hebrew words in the Old Testament and several Greek words in the New Testament translate into our English words “humility” or “humble.” These words can also be translated into the English words “meekness,” “gentleness” and “subdue” in addition to phrases like “bring down” or “bring into subjection” (Strong’s). The general idea of humility or humbleness is an attitude of self-control, submission and an awareness of one’s place in this world. Time after time, God reminded the world that He is supreme. The attitude of humility is the responsibility of mankind, while the privilege of exaltation belongs to God (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 149:4; Daniel 10:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).
The account of God dealing with the Pharaoh of Egypt regarding the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery begins in Exodus 5:1. Moses repeatedly asked Pharaoh to let God’s people leave the land. Even after seven plagues, Pharaoh refused to grant the request, demonstrating an unwillingness to submit to Jehovah God. Exodus 10:3 reads, “So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” In contrast, Numbers 12:3 declares Moses as a most humble man. “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
Many of the kings of Israel and Judah did evil in God’s sight. One such man was Manasseh, King of Judah. Second Chronicles 33:10 states that God spoke to this evil king and his people, but they would not listen. Manasseh did not acknowledge his place as inferior to the Almighty. Notice the result.
Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. (2 Chronicles 33:11-13)
Manasseh learned humility the hard way.
Josiah became king of Judah when he was eight years old (2 Chronicles 34:1). At age sixteen, he began to “seek the God of his father David” (34:3), which led to drastic changes in Judah (34:3-35:18). God rewarded Josiah for his humble attitude.
But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Concerning the words which you have heard – because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, says the LORD. Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.” So they brought back word to the king. (2 Chronicles 34:26-28)
Acts 12:1-4 describes the persecution of the church by King Herod. The end of the chapter describes this arrogant man’s violent death. Herod appeared before the people dressed in a fine manner. The historian Josephus described his garments as made of silver that shone brightly in the sun (New Unger's). When the people saw the splendor, they shouted, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” (v. 22). Herod did not deny the claim and God punished him. “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23). God humbled this man in most painful manner.
First Peter 5:5-6 reads, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” James records a similar statement. “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:6-7). Christians must submit to God and to each other. When God’s children are “clothed with humility,” they wear an attitude of service to others. Incidentally, both of these passages quote the Septuagint version of Proverbs 3:34 (Barnes’).
Consider the disposition of humility as commanded in the following verses.
The world around us frequently does the opposite of what God commands, to their eternal detriment (Isaiah 5:20). Though many in the world praise the haughty and malign the humble, the ways of Almighty God remain the only path to Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
Barnes’ Notes. Electronic Database. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.
Edgar, Frank. Greek and Roman Mythology. Quincy, Illinois: Mark Twain Media, 1994.
New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, The. Chicago: Moody P., 1988.
How Can We
Martha Lynn Rushmore
Some time ago, I heard this sermon, “How Can We Deceive Ourselves?” When I heard the title, my ears perked up. I felt this was a lesson I really needed to hear and learn what to do to not deceive myself. I knew it was something I must put into my daily life. I am afraid we all at times deceive ourselves, and I know I do.
We want to believe we are better people than we really are. We say we have not done or said anything wrong, but what about our attitude toward others? The Scriptures teach us to take heed lest we fall in 1 Corinthians 10:12. This means not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Therefore, we must be able to think of ourselves as we really are. What do we think of ourselves?
It is bad when we are deceived by others. When we are misled by others, we may be excused once. There is a saying that goes something like this, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” We must stay alert and follow God’s Word. We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that the devil is always going about seeking whom He can devour or con, either by ourselves or by others. He wants us to believe a lie and to be deceived, just as he conducted himself in the Garden of Eden when he interacted with Adam and Even. The devil told Eve a lie by changing what God had told her and Adam by just one word. They were told to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for God said they would die. However, the sly devil came to her as a serpent and deceived Eve by lying to her. He told her she would not die (Genesis 3:3-8). Satan was very sly with his conversation with Eve. Is He sly with us, causing us to believe his lies?
The apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:7 and Thessalonians 2:2-3 that man can be deceived. We must keep ourselves focused on the Word of God and His commandments. By doing this it will be harder for anyone to deceive us including ourselves. We must always keep our eyes and ears open, because the Devil is watching and waiting for a weak moment for us to be scammed.
First John 4:1-2 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” There are so many false teachers in the world – on the radio, on the television and on the Internet. We can turn any of these electronics on any time of the day and hear false teaching. Therefore, we must listen carefully to preachers, teachers, elders and anyone bringing us lessons from the Bible. Then, we must read and study the Word of God to check what we have been taught is the truth (Acts 17:10-11). If the teachings are false, do not deceive yourself by following the false teachers. We are told in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We must obey God totally, rather than doing only what pleases us. The devil tempts us, and we do not want to fall into temptations, by which we deceive ourselves.
There are several ways we can deceive ourselves, such as:
Please let us consider how important it is to be focused on living for the Lord and following His Word seven days a week. We must live a faithful life 24/7, not just when it is convenient. Let us not be deceived by ourselves, by anyone else or by the devil. We must follow God’s Word as best as we can to inherit eternal life. Revelation 2:10 reminds us of an incomparable reward that awaits the children of God. “…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”