"...But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:2
Humility has fallen on hard times. Our world is not a place that generally rewards humility. If there ever was a "me first" generation, it is ours.
There are so many examples of pride and arrogance around us (and within us!) that we hardly even notice it anymore. And being self-centered pays these days. It pays big! The world will often take notice of those who put themselves in first place.
Do you know what I have noticed in my life? I see the pride in other people far more easily than I see the pride in my own life. Ever notice how much easier it is to see faults when someone else displays them?
The word of the Lord is clear in Isaiah 66:2. God looks with favor to the one who is humble and contrite. The individual who lives in humility may be passed over by the world, but he is looked upon with approval by the Lord. As it always does in all things related to obeying God, humility comes down to choosing to please the Lord more than craving the approval of people.
It is so tempting to live for the applause of those around us. Sometimes admiration of the watching world is garnered, but it is just as easily lost. Winston Churchill was once asked if it thrilled him to know that every time he made a speech the hall was packed and even overflowing. "It’s quite flattering,” he replied, “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”
Living for the world doesn't pay in the end. Striving to please the world is so fleeting. Cheers far too soon can turn to jeers. Instead, we must choose to live to please the Lord.
And who is it that pleases the Lord? According to Isaiah 66:2, it is the one who trembles at the Word of God. When is the last time you shook as you read the Bible? How long has it been since you opened the Scripture, considered the holiness of God, then realized all your sin and disobedience, and found yourself trembling at the reality of the magnitude of God's righteousness?
I think these two things go together: humility and trembling. In a culture obsessed with self, we don't tremble in reverent awe at much of anything. So where there is no humility, there will be no trembling.
If God looks with favor upon the one who trembles at His word, we must see to it that we cultivate humility in our heart. The more aware you are of your sin, the less impressed you will be with yourself. When you understand rightly just how sinful you are -- and then consider all the Lord has done for you -- you will be contrite and will tremble at the Word of God.
George Mueller was once asked the secret to his life and ministry. His response is startling. He said, “There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.”
May we find the grace today to live in humility and again tremble at the holiness of God. It is in that moment of desperation we will find all we need to live in strength and spiritual power.
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