One of the pitfalls when serving any master is that of becoming impressed with one’s own abilities and successes. It would behoove everyone, for all have a master in higher authority, to be reminded of the Biblical admonitions that … “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NIV) and Scripture warns of the ultimate consequence of the sin of arrogance … “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12 NASB).
In a previous article, we examined the demise of a highly successful evangelist by the name of Jonah. His desire was that God immediately destroy Nineveh, Israel’s enemy, rather than offer them salvation and eternal life. When the people repented and turned to God, Jonah, in an attitude of “it’s all about me,” concluded … “Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3 NIV). That was an affront to the Sovereignty of God who gives life and numbers our days.
However, not all of God’s servants reflect Jonah’s attitude. When King Nebuchadnezzar began his conquest of Judah, he took the nobility of the nation into captivity for the purpose of training them to serve in his empire. Among the captives was a man whom God would promote into the leadership of the empire for over seventy years. Scripture reveals the character trait that brought Daniel into the position that turned another empire to faith in the God of Israel, the pre-incarnate Christ. This servant of God would have the opportunity to present the true God to a heathen king not by means of great oratory, but by demonstrating humility. “As you were lying there, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind” (Dan 2:29-30 NIV).
This king would eventually place his faith in the coming Messiah, the Christ … “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37 NIV).
While Daniel demonstrated a humble spirit early in his life, another servant of God had to be humbled in order to become the greatest spokesman of teachings pertaining to the Church. Named Saul, and upon his conversion given the name of Paul, he would write thirteen epistles. Yet, this individual apparently had a flaw, for his heritage, training and success in the Pharisaical hierarchy would reveal his arrogant attitude. Paul admits that …“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:7-10 NIV).
Therefore with great humility and boldness, he says … “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:16-17 NIV).