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Psalm

18:25-36

 

With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God - his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? - the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. (ESV)

 

God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It

Monday of Pentecost 4

7 July 2014

"I am so humble that I am proud of my humility." How insidious the human heart is! We can turn a divinely-gifted characteristic into a snake and devouring serpent in the heart. How different is the heart of the Christ, who is "gentle and lowly in heart" (Mt 11:29).  Without a hint of pride He can say what we can hardly think without busting our buttons in self-glorying. However, we might suspect Him of false humility, because here these are but words. First, they are the words of the Son of God, who cannot lie, but testifies truthfully about Himself. The Old Testament identifies the Messiah by His lowliness. When He comes in humility, you have seen God's Christ. Such lowliness marks Him for us. "Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zech 9:9). His humility is the sign of His coming among His people to bring them salvation. The defining act of His ministry is His embracing the sin of the world and the acceptance of mistreatment at the hands of evildoers, that He, who knew no sin, might become sin for us (2Co 5:21). He doesn't hesitate to lay down His life for us, but offers it up of His own accord (Jn 10:18). That is humility; true humility.

 

Such humility forever becomes a mark of His coming and the establishment of His kingdom. The church is built by the cross and its weakness and suffering. The church exists from the font of baptism. Her life is given and reassured there. What could be more humble than that God should condescend to give His most precious gifts with water connected this His word. How easily the unbeliever can mock this little bath; a few words and a little splashing. But God's word in baptism pledges Him and His great gifts to those who are baptized there. We become God's children through the washing of regeneration (Tit 3:5). There is no better status to have: God's child. You can't say anything better about yourself. There is no graduating from this. In this sense Christian maturity is to become more deeply a child in the hands of a gracious God. We must attain "to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Eph 4:13-14). Notice it does not say that we shouldn't be children, but rather we should no longer be children tossed about by every wind of doctrine. True trust in the word of the Father is without any doubts, objections, caviling, or quibbles. This is childlike trust. Christ's humility as God's Son must rub off on the adopted sons of the King. "Not my will, but Yours be done, dear heavenly Father," is the child's prayer.

 

All claims to wisdom apart from childlike faith in Christ alone are invalid. Notice that Jesus opposes divine revelation to little children to worldly wisdom and understanding. This is not a wisdom versus foolishness or a knowledge versus ignorance juxtaposition. Little children receive the divine word and its deep wisdom precisely because they are children to whom the heavenly Father gives the gift of His humble and lowly wisdom. They are capable of nothing and must receive everything as a gift. Apart from the divine revelation of God's Word there can be nothing but human wisdom, which in God's reckoning is nothing but ignorance. Those who adhere in faith to the Word of God, God counts wise in spiritual things. Such ones the world calls ignorant and foolish. If this is what it means to be God's own child, I gladly say it!

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children' (Mt 11:25). To those wise and understanding, who are really objects of derision, to the arrogant who in false pretence are great, yet in truth are only puffed up, he opposed not the foolish, nor the ignorant, but little children. Who are the little children? The humble. Therefore 'you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding' Under the name of the wise and understanding, He has explained that the proud are understood, when He said, 'you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding.' Therefore from those who are not little children You have hidden them. What is hidden from those who are not little children; from those who are not humble? And who are they but the proud? O way of the Lord! Either there was none, or it lay hidden, that it might be revealed to us. Why did the Lord exult? 'Because it was revealed to little children.' We must be little children. If we would wish to be great, wise and understanding, it is not revealed unto us. Who are the great ones? The wise and understanding. 'Claiming to be wise, they became fools' (Rm 1:22). Here then you have a remedy suggested by its opposite. For if by claiming to be wise, you have become a fool, then claim to be a fool, and you will be wise. But claim it in truth, profess it from the heart, for it is really so as you profess. If you profess it, do not profess it before men, and refrain from professing it before God.

 

"As for yourself, and all that is yours, you are altogether dark. For what else is it to be a fool, but to be dark in heart? He says of them at last, 'Claiming to be wise, they became fools.' Before they claimed this, what do we find? 'Their foolish hearts were darkened' (Rm 1:21). Acknowledge then that you are not a light for yourself. At best you are but an eye; you are not the light. What good is even an open and a healthy eye, if the light be wanting? Acknowledge therefore that of yourself you are no light for yourself; and cry out as it is written, 'For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness' (Ps 18:28). For I myself was all darkness; but You are the light that scatters the darkness, and enlightens me. I am no light to myself. Yes, I have no portion of light except in You." 

 

Augustine, 
Sermons on Matthew, 17.8
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the light of the world. Grant us to seek sight only in You, that the light of Your Word would be all our hope and confidence. In that hope and confidence let us boast to the world, so that sinners like us might know the confidence that has been revealed to God's children. Amen.

 

For Tom Cedel in thanksgiving to God, that he has shown no signs of lymphoma in testing and that he is physically improving every day

 

For those who are grieving the loss of a spouse, that they might entrust unto Christ all their sorrow

 

For those who are returning to the church after an absence from the gracious presence of Christ, that they would set their hearts where true joys are to be found
Art: Cranach, Lucas  the Younger  Christ Blesses the Children (1540s) 

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