“Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled thyself before the Lord…” – 2 Kings 22:19
Smallness — what a profitable passageway to all things good. Can you think of any lasting work of good in your life which was not preceded by a tenderhearted humility? When God saved me, He had to break me, and at age twenty four I experienced humility for the very first time. Four months later when God called me to preach his word I fled from the church house in a broken sense of utter unworthiness. Three years later I knelt in the same auditorium and heard Him speak to my waiting heart that I would be allowed to ask Amy to be my wife; I first wept and then shouted for joy. For most of us, days of confidence are susceptible to become days of cockiness and therefore God relentlessly works to perfect our littleness.
The more precise and peculiar work by God is not to make a saint great but to make him dependent.
I sat with over a thousand pastors tonight from all walks of life. The sermon preached to us was crafted by a 53 year old pastor who stands between the young and the old. He shared passionately about the dangers of young pastors and the failures of old pastors. He exposed our follies and lovingly warned us not to remain ignorant. Most of his finer points were not what I took away in my heart because, beyond his voice, I heard the whisper of the Spirit calling me to tender my own heart, humble myself and await what would be spoken at a later time. More waiting, my least favorite thing.
Lord willing, I will arise in a handful of hours and gather again with those same men and listen to other preachers exhort us to endurance (the theme of the conference I’m attending). We think of endurance as a trait of the strong and mighty. Perhaps it is, in reality, the characteristic of the tender and dependent. You and I who live to experience the greatness of Christ have known the ups and downs of being both strong and tender. I remain committed in my belief that to seek to become strong never results in tenderness while endeavoring to become tender will inevitably produce strength. When we do not pursue the smallness and tenderness as something we personally and consistently value, God will graciously ordain the means by which He will affect that result on His own.
Here’s a couple of verses rolling around in my heart today. Let them flavor your soul. Let them blend in with your will. Ask God to put their scent in your spirit.
- James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
- 1 Peter 5:6 – “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
- Proverbs 29:23 – “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
- Luke 14:11 – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
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