5 November 2017
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10
I am a great king, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name is feared throughout the nations. And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. And so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile in the eyes of the whole people in repayment for the way you have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.
Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well. Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you.
Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.
Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
I am not a very humble person, and in the past years I have seen that this is exactly what the Lord wants of me — to let go of my ego, pride, self righteousness and be a servant like Him. He is Almighty and He wants the best of me and for me, and the same holds true for all His children. In my journey towards the destination of HUMILITY, I realise the fruits it brings — peace, joy and freedom — especially to me but also to those around me.
Sadly, I have destroyed many opportunities and friendships around me because of my lack of humility. I am getting better at this, but in the past I tried to prove myself and drew unnecessary attention to myself. Sadly, this had some damaging effects to people around me. But today, I know that only God can restore those who have been wounded by my words and actions, because even my best attempts will not result in anything.
In 2014, I become a member of the core team of the youth ministry at my parish. On that night of commissioning, as I was about to leave church, I checked my phone and my bible app opened with this verse, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. God knows I needed to see it. It was His gentle reminder to prepare me for what was ahead and throughout those 2 years in the team, I drew on those verses when I felt the need to stay aligned. One of the youths, bluntly asked me why I was ‘chosen’ and I was able to share this verse, explaining to her that my role was to be a servant of youths in this parish. That verse soothed her cares as her tone changed immediately. What a powerful verse it is!
In the workplace and in relationships, humility at the onset may be construed as a weakness and sometimes attributed to a lack of self confidence. I don’t know how we can get so evil to even believe that. Most good leaders in the workplace are humble as I have worked with a few, both in church and at work, and to me, they were good role models. They never slacked on their responsibilities neither were they afraid to stay their ground; yet they mastered the art of putting their employees before them. I had noticed that during staff lunches, the bosses are the last one to eat because conversations and selfies with staff usually stood between them and the food.
As I begin to recognise the fruits of humility, I realise that I am calmer, I laugh and smile more and the actions and words of others don’t bother me as much. It is my dear Lord that reminds me that my identity is not defined by my grades, salary, the size of car and house, the clothes I wear, my physical appearance nor even my humility (or the lack of it). My true identity is that I am His and His alone.
I thank God for the failures in my life and for not always nodding to my whims and fancies. It is also the “No” and “Not yet” that has drawn me closer to Him, my family and friends, my community and towards His home of holiness through humility.
As I journey towards humility, I continue to fall down but my Father and Mother continue to reassure me that I can do this with their help.
If today, you think that you are better than others or that others have failed you, I urge you to embrace humility very tightly so that the pain you carry is lifted up. My path towards humility was unlocked through prayer, the humility to rise again, to face those who know my weaknesses, never to run away but always, always to run to God.
(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: We pray Lord, that you will lead us to holiness, help us to always put others before ourselves, even when we think they don’t deserve it. Father and Mother, please hold our hands and lead us.
Thanksgiving: Daddy Jesus, we thank you for the failures in our lives that have made us better. Thank you for showing that true heroes die for their villains, just as you had.