A Humble Heart
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 11:29d (Holman) “. . .and humble in heart,. . .”
Israel wanted Messiah to conquer. Craving a warlord, not a meek king, they intended to crush Rome and make themselves rulers of the world. Jesus said no.
Jesus was humble. Before Jesus, humility was a vice, not a virtue; deemed weakness, not strength. The ancients said humility was the mind-set of a slave.
Jesus exposed the error of this outlook. He reminded us a proud person can not please God. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (JM 4:6).
“Humility” summarized Jesus’ whole existence. The fact He was a human being showed His humility. He condescended to fulfill every duty placed on Him by the Father, to Whom Jesus humbly prayed, “Not My will, but Thine, be done” (LK 22:42).
Jesus stooped, even in selecting followers. He chose disciples not from the universities or seminaries, but from the fisherman’s wharf and the toll booth.
To this day, our Master remains humble, having no aspiration to tyrannize as a dictator over us. He lets us retain our free will, granting us the awful freedom to say no.
For us to be like Him, His humility has to become our humility. The trait makes us attractive in our dog-eat-dog world. The proud repulse. The humble are winsome.
Pride knows it all, humility is a good learner. The number of truths we need to learn is endless. Today we consider two lessons, each dealing with God’s rest.
Lesson one, God made us to enjoy a Person. The Lord carves in every heart a God-shaped hole only He can fill. Augustine prayed, “You made us for Yourself, and we are restless till we rest in You.” The emptiness rampant today is largely due to people trying to fill this longing with a human rather than with God.
No person, however wonderful, can fill the place set aside in our hearts for God, yet we seem determined to try to make the substitution. Thus, we have many throwaway relationships. We want the perfect person, perfect relationship, perfect romance. When our partner fails to be perfect, is unable to meet all our needs and wants, we turn to another, thinking they will be perfect and solve all our problems.
Only God is perfect. The ideal human of our dreams does not exist, for in our imagination that person is not flawed. No human meets this expectation. Only a personal, intimate relationship with God can satisfy and fulfill the heart.
When the Perfect Person Hole in the heart is not filled by the Perfect Person, we open ourselves to all kinds of wrong expectations toward others. We innately want excellence in someone. Not finding it in God, we seek it elsewhere.
This happens over and over and over again. All the while, the seekers are, without realizing it, displaying cravings for the kind of person only The Person can be.
We expect fiances and spouses to be perfect. A desperate desire for “perfect love” blinds us to reality. Romantic, physical, sexual love is highly overrated in our culture, worshiped as a god. When I told Grandpa Marshall I intended to ask Ruth to marry me, he immediately asked, “Do you like her?” The question was and is profound. Given soft music by a lake on a moonlit night, we can love any one romantically. We must move past mushiness and view others reasonably. God is to be our ultimate passion. He alone can fill a heart’s Perfect Person Hole.
When God is our passion, the person we are dating or married to does not have to be a god or goddess of love. Do we deeply love them? Yes, but not as much as we love God. They are friend and companion, but not all in all. “Do you like him or her?” helps put the extent of the relationship in proper perspective.
USA culture has bought into a bill of goods. Most movies share a common fantasy. Find the right person and all of life will be wonderful.
No one enjoys romantic movies more than I do. I relish being reminded Ruth and I have what the whole world is looking for.
It hurts me, though, to think people believe romance is the cure-all. This kind of thinking sets us up for a lifetime of disappointments.
Failure to let God fill the Perfect Person Hole causes many relationships in life to break down. Many parents expect a child to be absolutely perfect, and try to live out their own dreams through their children. This fosters mental illness.
Many adults expected perfect parents, and carry the baggage of resentment. Many fail to have friends because no one lives up to their standard of perfection.
What do all these interpersonal, relational breakdowns have in common? They result from wrong thinking, from erroneously believing a human can fill the Perfect Person Hole. God made us for a Person, Himself. Only He fills the bill.
Lesson two, God made us to enjoy a place. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (JN 14:2b). A location is readied for us. We are made for Heaven.
Abraham succeeded in his wanderings because “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (HB 11:10). John the Beloved was shown the “great city” descending out of Heaven from God (RV 21:10). We do not talk about Heaven often enough. We need to celebrate it more frequently.
Human beings have a built-in tracking device. We are homing pigeons, drawn to a city not made with hands. If this instinct is not properly fulfilled with thoughts of, and aspirations for, Heaven, we strive to replace it with counterfeits.
Ruth and I love Destin, Florida, our favorite getaway spot on the planet. We have to be careful to keep it in proper perspective. There we rest, recreate, and read, but the place itself must not become in our thinking the answer to all our ills.
Many people, determined to live without reference to God, try to substitute geography for spirituality. The ultimate vacation trip, best beach house, perfect mountain chalet, and ideal country retreat are okay as sidelines, not as obsessions. Coveting a place is subtle materialism, the belief we can be fulfilled with a thing.
Some believe the inner void will be filled by the next house they build, next place they move, next property they buy. No, only desire for Heaven can do this.
We should long for it more than we long for any place on earth, even our homes. We are aliens and strangers here. Fellow pilgrims, Paul commanded us, “set your affection on things above” (CL 3:2).
If our desire is not focused on Heaven, we carry an emptiness with us every where we go. Wherever we travel, we cannot escape ourselves. The inner void goes with us. When we vacation, do we go to church, read our Bible, have private prayer time, or are our getaways not only vacations from work, but also from God? If we jettison the spiritual disciplines, we are saying the location is all we need.
Of peace, Jack Graham philosophically says, to be satisfied with life, you have to be satisfied with God. At the practical level, prayer warrior George Muller said the chief business of every day is first of all to seek to be truly happy in God.