Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Shape of Humility

The first and foundational posture of humility is one that expresses repentance by groveling in the dust in prostration, but the last and highest posture is that which is pictorially depicted by someone arising—only after being forgiven—and walking into the fullness of their destiny by obeying the entire council or will of God.  But this mature picture of someone walking in humility never outgrows prostration; it rather grows out of prostration.  Walking before God and being perfect subsumes the previous steps of life and is necessarily dependent upon them to get to the ultimate erect posture that is the prerequisite posture for walking.  In other words, the humility of prostration is like a baby picture: inceptionally wonderful and promising; but the humility of walking with God is like a portrait of Enoch: eternally wonderful and the consummation of someone who has walked with God until they fulfilled God’s perfect will for their lives.

Walking uprightly is even more humble by nature than contrition because contrition implies periods or episodes of a failure to walk uprightly.  And God’s ultimate goal or design for man is to walk with Him, not to grovel at His feet.  Sure, there is a sense wherein the heart of any uprightly walking man is paradoxically prostrated, because uprightness of action can only be achieved by prostration of attitude.  Just because “before honor comes humility” does not mean there is no humility in honor; quite the contrary: honor is the coronation or fulfillment of humility (Proverbs 15: 33, New American Standard Bible).  To not get up and fulfill specifically what God has in store for us is inherently prideful.  If God says to point out another person’s sin in loud and bombastic terms, and instead you fall on your face to intercede and bemoan his condition, then the proper expression of humility—in this particular case—is to cry out in a loud and bombastic way.

We too often immaturely think of humility only in terms of repentance, which is only a birthing or beginning; but the end of humility is best expressed as a man walking humbly before God until a crystallization of godly character has been achieved.  Indeed, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8, New American Standard Bible).  Mature humility is therefore about transcending, about overcoming the very things which bring us to prostration in the first place.

Ultimately, the genuine picture of humility can be visualized by thinking of someone being completely fleshed out and fitted into a mold surrounding their entire body.  It would depict their three dimensional form and the amount of space displaced to fit them there.  Symbolically, this physical displacement of mass represents the parameters or boundaries of the full extent of that person’s responsibility before God; to not fill out the entire space would be to deficiently walk in humility.  A healthy maturation is only achieved if, as one matures, responsibilities and requirements grow—and in proportion to that growth—the scope or sphere of that which pertains to their destiny also grows.  The posture of prostration is about prayer and worship; the posture of an erect man walking is about answers to prayer and worship and ultimately the fulfillment of destiny.  And to fulfill the will of God is synonymous with fulfilling one’s destiny; humility is therefore about our destiny and the will of God becoming the same thing, about solving the seemingly paradoxical dilemma of God’s sovereignty and of our free will.  It is about our responsibilities and freedoms existing within the same space and time, about the boundaries which define the parameters of our own Promised Land (the extent of where we dare to live and breathe and have our being).  We are only to be humble in proportion to the gate of our stride as we follow hard after Him, and as God enlarges our steps beneath us, we will become more and more brazen and determined to possess our full inheritance.  To grow into incrementally larger spaces, to inhabit more and more of the promises of God, is finding out experientially how ultimately those lines fell to us in pleasant places.