The Art of Being Low

It’s the second Monday of Lent and I have a confession to make.  I have sinned.  I have been wicked and done evil.  I have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.  I have not obeyed your servants the prophets.  I am shamefaced because I haven’t paid any attention to your Word.

The Psalmist asks God: “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low” (Psalm 79;8).

The Apostle Paul adds: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Am I cultivating the art of being brought low?

Aristotle taught there were four virtues: wisdom, self-control, courage, and justice.  Christians add the theological virtues of “faith, hope and love.”    Pope Gregory added the capital virtues, “chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility”.

For most, the toughest virtue to form is the practice of “being brought low” (aka humility).  

If you don’t practice this habit, God will “make you low” like He did King Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel 4:30 describes the king walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, saying “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 

“The toughest virtue to practice is humility.”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.  32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 
God had mercy on Nebuchadnezzar and gave him a second chance. 

There is no second chance in Jesus’ parable of the rich man.  (cf Luke 12:16)

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

How do I know when I am living the low life?  

No one wants to live like an animal for seven years or have their lives cut short.  Jesus describes four actions of the low life in Luke 6:36-38:

  1. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  2. “Stop judging and you will not be judged.  Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
  3. “Forgive and you will be forgiven.
  4. “Give and gifts will be given to you;
    a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
    will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure
    will in return be measured out to you.”


Author: gbradepp

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