Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Humility Handles Ambition

Yesterday, I learned of my own inherent desire to be great, and how it can cause a glitch in God's plan for me to serve others. Today, I learn about how that call to greatness is God-given, and how I can use this desire to acheive great things for the glory of God. (If you are thinking this sounds a bit contradictory, don't worry, because I thought that too.)
The book basically explains that though God has given me the desire to be great, I have muddled it with my own selfish ambitions. Yesterday, I mentioned that I had a desire to be the smarest, most elite, and most well-liked. Yep, sounds like some selfish ambitions to me! However, if we humble ourselves, God is better able to navigate our amibitions, and thus, we are able to acheive the purpose for which God has created us. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal! Sign me up for that plan, please!
Problem is, one must first figure out how to "humble" oneself. The book looks to Matthew 18:4 to provide the solution to that problem: "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

So it turns out that yesterday when I was making all that talk about learning how to manage my selfish desires with the "maturity that comes with age," I was wrong. It is better to act like a child. Go figure.

The book says that the reason Jesus spoke of children in this light is because children are completely dependent on someone else for their wants and needs. And because they are dependent, they are not demanding. I have to stop right there for a second. Apparently, Mr. Holladay has never met my children. Mr. Holladay, allow me to introduce you. Sammi is a talkative--though sometimes mouthy, smart--though sometimes smart-alecky, strong--though sometimes stubborn, and sweet--though sometimes sneaky four-year-old who has no problem telling her mommy what she wants and who occasionally will throw herself onto the floor crying and flailing her feet about in the air if she doesn't get it. Jack is my handsome, equally smart, and equally sweet 19-month-old who adores his older sister and studies her every move. And though he does not have the vocabulary to articulate everything he wants, he sure does have "NO!" down. He has also just learned to cross his arms and say "angry!" when I tell he him can't have something he wants. And just a few days ago, my precious baby looked an awful lot like his sister as he threw himself onto the floor when I told him that he could not have another cookie. So are they dependent on me? Absolutely. But that doesn't stop them from demanding anything from me, either.

But here is what I thought about when I read the verse about the humble child...

Children are wonderful, beautiful creations. I think as adults we often see them as lowly/humble because they are naive and still have so much to learn about the world and about themselves. But it is because of their naivete that they are innocent. And it is because of their innocence that they are able to see things more clearly than many adults. Life hasn't jaded them yet. Their hearts haven't been hardened. They accept truths in terms of black and white. They are able to trust and love completely.

When our church does believers baptism, they always show a little video first where the person who is getting baptized is able to give his/her testimony. I always love listening to the childrens'. They are always so cute and entertaining. They'll say things like "before I was a Christian, I was angry with my mom alot when she told me to do things. But now, I obey my parents and do my chores." But there was one child's testimony a couple of months ago that really struck a chord with me. I will never forget it.
The video came onto the projector and the child said, "My name is ... and today I am getting baptized because I love Jesus, and I want you all to know that I love Him too." That was it. That was the whole testimony. But how wonderful that in this child's simple statement, they were able to capture what salvation, faith, and believer's baptism was all about!

Reflecting on the testimony of that "naive" child has really put me in my place. Adults walk around all the time complaining about how living a life for God is so hard, but it isn't supposed to be. It really is supposed to be simple. God always meant for it to be easy. We are just complicating it all with our own selfish ambitions.

I will humbly serve others. Why? Because I love Jesus, and I want all of you to know that I love Him too.

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