One of my daughters recently stated that she thought our family’s besetting sin was pride. Immediately, I agreed. I remembered half a lifetime ago, when I was thirty, and I thought I had everything figured out. I had “arrived.” This was the same thirty year old who had grown from the high school senior who said this: “I just took that personality test in Seventeen magazine, and I got all the answers right.” Ugh.
If you remember that moment, high school friend, I’m sorry. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I learned a know-it-all, straight-A-student demeanor quite well. Thankfully, the Lord loves me, and he is patient. He began his work on the Potter’s wheel immediately. The School of Hard Knocks seems to be the only way I truly learn anything.
Thus, I marveled at God’s sense of humor when I was asked to speak on humility at our church women’s conference. These decades of growth have taught me a few things, mainly that I will always be growing in this. The Lord is at work. Praise God!
Romans 12 contains some significant words on growing in humility. Let me expound. Earlier in Romans, Paul wrote these words: “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:13-14 ESV).
As a sinner, I’ve turned to Christ, asking for his forgiveness and yielding to his lordship, therefore, I am under grace — the unmerited kindness and mercy of God. I know that I have no hope but him. Because I’ve accepted him as Savior, sin no longer has dominion over me, not because of anything I’ve done or hope to do (conquer pride), but because of what Christ has done for me on the cross and continues to do to transform me.
I am now a recipient of the new covenant, one in which Christ has paid for all of my sins past, present, and future. I have his Spirit within me convicting, prodding, and nudging me toward growth. He changes me, bit by bit. I’m not under law, but under the kind and gracious mercy and guidance of a good and loving God.
Let’s look at Romans 12. This shows how the Lord causes us to grow.
Romans 12:1-2 is the turning point of the letter where Paul takes the beautiful redemptive theology of the first eleven chapters of Romans and applies it, turning his discussion toward our personal implementation. Now, he presses in hard. What are we to do?
1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).
Our merciful God says, “You’re really a mess. But, I love you and died to pay for all of that mess, so let me help you. First, let me have your heart, and then give me your body, your mind, and the keeping of your soul.”
“You want all of me?”
“Yes,” he responds.
I pause to consider. “I give myself to You,” I tell him. “Have at it!”
My eternity hinges on that response.
God is telling us here to make a once-for-all-time decision. We are to sacrifice ourselves, offering the entirety of who we are and what we will become, to this God who sacrificed himself for us. This pleases God. It is holy and acceptable to him. He embraces us as his own, and he then transforms us into holy people, making us new.
In the Greek, those verses are telling us that the only logical choice when confronted with such a God is to surrender everything to him.
His love is unstoppable. His mercy is unmatchable. His kindness is beyond our wildest imaginings. He died for us, for goodness sake!
In light of these truths, the only rational response is to place ourselves entirely at God’s disposal. Serving him for the rest of our days is the only reasonable choice.
Now on to verse two. Our God is concerned with our minds, our thought lives, our inner wonderings, and what results from all of that contemplation. He wants us to test his words and the personal choices our world throws at us, to poke at our assumptions.
One Greek study tool said: “Stop being molded by the external and fleeting fashions of this age, but undergo a deep inner change by the qualitative renewing of your mind.”
God is concerned with the very essence of us, the place where our actions, decisions, and thoughts originate. We need renewal of our thought processes and of our reasoning, to change us to be like Jesus and to squash our prideful view of ourselves.
The only way NOT to be an assembly-line, form-punched replica of the current model of human being our world produces is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds via God’s Word, our resistance of the world’s model, and the work of his Spirit.
The only way NOT to be an assembly-line replica of the current model of human our world produces is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds via God's Word, our resistance of the world, and the work of his Spirit. Click To Tweet
In fact, we are commanded here to habitually do the mental work required to be aware of how our culture and/or our family may tug us the wrong way, and to conform ourselves instead to Biblical truth, resisting the fashion, model, or method of society or family unit.
This is how we come to know God’s will, how we are transformed and our minds renewed, a process that takes all of our lives and into eternity. When we reject our family’s or our culture’s ways of doing things, and we focus on what God says and wants, our inner reflections put us here:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3 ESV). This is humility.
If we are in God’s Word, regularly considering, reflecting, and digging into our whys, we grow to see ourselves rightly. The greater our faith, the greater our humility, because we recognize that we cannot think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We now know ourselves too well. Our inner reflection acquaints us with ourselves quite thoroughly.
Thus, we know then that we must humble ourselves to serve others as our equals and to step into a helping role. The greater our faith, the clearer our vision, the greater our service to others.
Is this what we are doing, consistently or in a newly beginning form?
Do we see our flaws and sins more clearly the older we become?
Do we recognize our weaknesses with increasing clarity?
If this is happening in our lives, thanks be to God! We are growing! This is evidence of our salvation. This is good news!
Accept God’s offer. Let him have you. Examine yourself. Be transformed as your mind is renewed in his Word and in your obedience to him.
The more our faith increases, the closer to the Lord we become. The closer to the Lord, the more we see ourselves with sober accuracy. Is this what we see in our lives? Do we recognize our weaknesses with increasing clarity? Click To Tweet
I’m so excited to finally share the sequel to No Longer Alone with you! Be encouraged as you read about faith in action during hardship.
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS: THE PREORDER LINK FOR THE SHADOWS COME IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE! CLICK HERE!