Grant Swank
New Year's Day: taking personal stock
By Grant Swank
December 28, 2008

New Year's Day is an opportune moment in time to contemplate timelessness — eternity — and one's personal place therein. In other words, it is the change-of-years time to take stock of one's "place in the sun." In doing so, hopefully the believer comes to realize the underlying baseline of utter humility before the Ultimate One.

Not too long ago, a very dear friend of mine left us. At his funeral, numerous deserving accolades were offered. Now that more time has passed, I have concluded that Bill's chief contribution to the faith was his unaffected humility — rare gift in any time.

Bill, in his practical definition of humility, surely knew that it is not the stooped shoulders nor dragging bent frame of the wimp, though some have tried to play out this image in the name of "holiness" and "piety."

Nor is it a saccharine spirituality of artificial sweetness, though some have attempted to play this out as well.

Humility, Bill knew, is understanding one's place before Creator God. It is recognizing the biblical definition of the mortal to be fact — that we are indeed as dust, cracked clay, or a wheat strand blowing in the wind.

Further, humility is recognizing that earth's stay is temporary — brief at best — and ending in an accounting before the white light of Truth.

Bill realized that humility is grappling with one's ego so as to bend such conceit utterly before the Lordship of God. It is wearing gladly the label of "love-slave," rejoicing in being but a serf before the King.

Interestingly enough, though contrary to popular opinion, humility then may demonstrate itself to be aggressive, full of authority in the Spirit, and taking charge for holiness' sake. Witness Jesus being just that when purging the temple, confronting the crusty hypocrites.

No wimp nor wipeout was Jesus. No doormat nor pushover.

He preached with awesome conviction. While ministering from a heart of gold, from a spine of steel He could shoot through to expose a complicated, compromising set-up. No demon was a match for Jesus Christ, and all devils knew it.

Yet through it all, Jesus was "obedient even unto the death of the cross." What does that mean? It means Jesus knew Who was giving orders. He recognized publicly His humble place before Father — total obedience.

"I came not to do my own will. . ."

With that proclamation, Jesus defined His soul turf. In that, being human as well as divine, Jesus experienced our lot — dust, clay, wheat stalk. In other words, though King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in His first coming He lived out serfdom and servanthood.

With that, Jesus then calls us to follow Him, to be like Him, to image Him. Imagine!

How opposite to the gaudy, egocentric challenges of world-think.

To be like Jesus, we join Him beneath the Father's rod. To see that through, we bow before His royal scepter.

Obviously then humility has nothing to do with a washed out countenance nor mealy way. It has nothing to do with a manufactured, affected piety, though some have attempted such in the flesh. Shams like that just don't work, nor do they impress — not earth, not heaven.

Humility, rightly defined, has all to do with brokenness before the Lord Creator of time and space, confessing one's nothingness before His all, acknowledging in fact God to be God in every practical detail of one's biography.

Understanding this stark reality, the Christian then may know when he is indeed humble, for he surely knows in conscience when he is completely surrendered to the Master, prostrate before His majesty. He knows when he lays bankrupt, naked in soul, before heaven's estate.

Does this not then equal a new pride, one may ask?

No, surely not. For the genuinely humble believer gives all praise — all praise — to God for the very gift of humility, knowing full well that the mortal could never conjure such a state.

Thanks, Bill, for modeling before us Christian humility — without getting a bit proud about it!

January 1 — the time for taking stock of timelessness and one's personal timely place therein. If that doesn't bring one to the ultimate humility baseline, what will?

© Grant Swank


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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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