The Ultimate Humility
Is America headed for another civil war? Political division is growing ever wider and angrier. In some cases it has erupted into deadly violence. Commentators are concerned such violence could spread and overtake us unless something changes. America’s political system is ripping us apart.
Most people don’t want to think about this subject. But it is a serious problem that must be confronted. We will never solve it if we simply ignore it!
There is a way to avoid civil war—and there is only one way.
Lincoln’s Call to Repentance
Look back to the time when America did experience a full-out Civil War—the deadliest war in the nation’s history.
That war began on April 12, 1861, when heavy mortar was fired on the Union’s Fort Sumter. Four months later, on August 12, President Abraham Lincoln made this proclamation: “Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next, as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the people … to observe and keep that day … in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the throne of grace and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country” (emphasis mine throughout).
In a time of unprecedented national crisis, Lincoln didn’t issue a lot of military bravado. No—he spoke about the need for approaching God “in all humility”! The Union tottered on the brink of being divided forever, and Lincoln yearned to save it! He knew the nation could never reunite unless the people were respectfully seeking God! Americans had to be humble enough for God to teach them and bring them together.
How far from God our nation has fallen since that proclamation! Thinking on this history gives sobering perspective on the intractability of the crisis in America today.
On March 30, 1863, as the Civil War continued to rage, Lincoln gave another speech. He spoke about all the blessings God had provided. Then, he warned: “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Can you imagine a president or political leader today making such a statement? Lincoln pinpointed the cause of the nation’s deep and dangerous division: because they had forgotten God. The nation has forgotten God far more thoroughly today! And the division is far worse in some ways, though people haven’t yet started shooting each other en masse.
On Oct. 20, 1864, Lincoln reemphasized this theme: “And I do farther recommend to my fellow citizens aforesaid that … they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union and harmony throughout the land, which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”
Lincoln earnestly believed that the grisly Civil War should have provoked significant humility before God! He called on people to repent and to let God lead them! Sadly, they didn’t respond to that exhortation right away; they had to suffer profoundly, soaking the land with blood, before they finally began to gain more humility. After much misery and hundreds of thousands of deaths, though, America was finally ready to lay aside its weapons and listen to God.
Think about these powerful statements from perhaps America’s greatest-ever president. Can you imagine a president today rebuking the nation for turning away from God? We often hear hollow words of gratitude toward God, but never do our leaders advise repentance from sin.
Lincoln had identified the true, penetrating cause for the nation’s Civil War. And if we are to prevent a second civil war, we must heed his words.
Those statements from Lincoln point us to the ultimate example of humility—an example we must discern if we are to make a real change and a turnaround in the way we are living.
The Ultimate Example of Humility
Jesus Christ set the ultimate example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21). Without Him, we would have no hope, no future and no salvation.
Let’s look particularly at His example of humility.
The Apostle Paul linked humility with taking on Christ’s very mind: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5).
How different was Christ’s mindset! He had existed for eternity as the Word alongside God Himself. Yet He gave up His eternal glory to become a man. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [He was God—John 1:1]: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (verses 6-7). Christ willingly lowered Himself to the level of a mortal human being—so He could serve us.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (verse 8). Christ humbled Himself even to the point of death. That is the ultimate humility! He made the ultimate sacrifice to pay for the sins of all mankind so we are not doomed to eternal death (Romans 6:23). He purchased us with His blood to make salvation possible. What a stunning act of service to mankind!
That is our example, though we cannot come close to doing what He did.
As a result of Christ’s unmatched humility, God the Father glorified and blessed Him (Philippians 2:9). God exalts people who humble themselves (e.g. Matthew 23:12; 1 Peter 5:6). He will do the same for us if we follow Christ’s example of humility.
Think regularly on what Christ went through for you. Witnesses of Christ’s scourging were astonished—He was beaten beyond recognition, to the point that He didn’t look human anymore! (Isaiah 52:14). Then was mercilessly crucified—a particularly cruel form of execution. This opened the opportunity of salvation to you. Even if He had to die for only you personally, He still would have done it!
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). All mankind is responsible for our Savior’s suffering and death. We have all sinned, and need that sacrifice (Romans 3:23).
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Christ’s scourging paid the penalty for our physical sins, which lead to sickness, injury and death. This beating made our healing possible! You can learn more about this inspiring biblical truth by requesting a free copy of our booklet The Plain Truth About Healing.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (verses 6-7). Christ’s crucifixion paid for our spiritual sins—the breaking of the Ten Commandments, which leads to eternal death. His death made eternal life possible for us.
Verse 8 asks a pivotal question: Who shall declare His generation? Christ humbled Himself to death, and now He wants you to humble yourself—and not be ashamed of Him! He wants us to declare His generation! We are here to humble ourselves and declare His generation and what He did for us, in the same spirit and attitude He had. Declare that savage beating, the stripes by which we can be healed. Declare that crucifixion, whereby we can be saved! Humble yourself and totally give yourself over to declaring what He accomplished! That is everything if you want a future beyond this world! Are you willing to declare His generation, and are you thrilled and ecstatic that God would give you that honor?
God’s Favorite Home
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). That is a great question. There is no physical temple today as there was anciently. But there is a spiritual temple, which is those individuals who receive the Holy Spirit and humbly submit to God. If we are to “declare His generation,” God is going to have to reside in us! God can live in you—if you allow it. His mind can become your mind.
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (verse 2).
The word contrite here means broken and smashed. Poor means meek. This is describing real humility! God dwells with a humble person who has broken and smashed his or her vanity, and conquered it to a great degree. He will look to you if you fear and obey Him. With Him on your side, you can solve any problem among individuals, families, cities, states, nations and even the entire world!
The time will come when every knee will bow to Christ (Philippians 2:10)—even if He has to break them because of their hard-headedness. God is giving you, as you read this message, the opportunity to become one of the first to bow to Christ the King!
Remember: He died for you! Is it really too much to ask for you to honor Him by the way you live your life daily?
I believe Isaiah 66:2 is one of the greatest scriptures in the Bible. Do we have the strength of humility to allow God to live in us so we can declare His generation? Christ’s sacrifice is for all mankind. All mankind needs to be taught about it. We have the honor to be their teachers if we choose to obey God today.
Think again about Abraham Lincoln’s proclamations. He was grateful and humble and repentant like few others. He certainly was moving in the direction of what God is looking for.
Miraculous Blessings of Humility
Most leaders and elites today are far too arrogant to be taught by God. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (Matthew 11:23). God obliterated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven because the inhabitants were so evil. Yet Christ said the people in Capernaum, a wealthy resort area, were even worse because they heard the gospel message but refused to heed it. Even the Sodomites would have obeyed had they received a similar warning! This is blunt condemnation.
“But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (verse 24). Those in Capernaum should have known better. They knew that Christ was a God Being in the flesh, yet they still rebelled against His message. Today’s elites and politicians likewise exalt themselves to the God level! They are not humble and teachable before God. God promises to bring them down to the dust—to force them to become humble. But in truth, we are all guilty of rebelling against God!
God wants you to realize the reward He is offering to the humble today. If we declare His generation, we will sit on David’s throne alongside Christ for all eternity! (Luke 1:30-33; Revelation 3:12).
But this reward is unavailable to the vast majority of mankind.
“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). The “wise and prudent,” or worldly intellectuals, are more ignorant than a toddler regarding spiritual truths! They have no idea who and what God is. You cannot discover God’s truth on your own. God must reveal His truth to a human mind—and He only does so to “babes,” or those who are humble and childlike.
This is a subject that society is terribly confused about, and always has been.
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4).
Think seriously about those words! If you do not learn this lesson, Christ says you will not be in the Kingdom of God! What a strong warning!
Think again about the division in America today. Can you see the incredible poverty of humility, this crucial virtue? Think deeply about it, and you will see that this truly is the factor preventing us from solving our problems.
Jesus also warned that a house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12:25). Unless America changes this, it will bring us down! But if we would humble ourselves before God, then our divisions would melt away!
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography of his difficulty in working to achieve humility. “I was never converted until I was brought to the place where I realized my own nothingness, and God’s all-encompassing greatness,” he wrote—“until I felt completely whipped, defeated. When I came to consider myself as a worthless burned-out ‘hunk of human junk’ not even worth throwing on the junk pile of human derelicts, truly remorseful for having imagined I was a ‘somebody’—completely and totally and bitterly sorry for the direction I had traveled and the things I had done—really and truly repentant. I told God that I was now ready to give my self and my life over to Him. It was worthless, now, to me. If He could use it, I told Him He could have it! I didn’t think, then, it was usable—even in God’s hands!” Have you ever had that level of clarity in seeing yourself apart from God?
Mr. Armstrong concluded, “But let me say to the reader, if God could take that completely defeated, worthless, self-confessed failure to which I had been reduced, and use that life to develop and build what He has done, He can take your life, too, and use it in a manner you simply cannot now dream—if you will turn it over to Him without reservation and leave it in His hands!”
Once Mr. Armstrong had been humbled, God was able to bless him abundantly! That man did the Work of God for over 50 years, and remained humble and yielded to God throughout. And God prospered that Work to astounding heights!
If you humble yourself and turn yourself over to God, then you will receive blessings beyond what you can even dream!