Humility - The Throne Isn't Yours Anyway

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 6, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

You may have heard someone ask you, “Who is on the throne in your life?” This is a question I have heard many times in churches. The purpose of the question is to get people to think about whether they are truly letting God lead and guide their lives, or trying to rule themselves. It’s a good conversation starter, but I believe it gives us an illusion of power that we don’t really have. You can choose not to follow God if you want, but that doesn’t mean he’s not God. You can choose not to follow the laws of the land and can choose not to follow the president, but that doesn’t make him cease to be the president when the majority of the country has elected him. God is on the throne whether we like it or not, and living as if he is not will still result in consequences according to his authority and law. The simple fact is that every one of you who reads this, including those who don’t believe in God, does not have the final say over whether you make it through today or wake up tomorrow. You may believe it is up to chance, but I believe God has the final say and that’s reason enough for me to stay humble and remember who I am NOT!

Just last night, I came across a wonderful example of humility in the world of sports. Vin Scully, a man who has been the Los Angeles Dodgers television broadcaster since Jackie Robinson was still playing, announced that he would return in 2015 for his 66th season in the booth. That is remarkable in itself, but even more so when you consider that he has broadcasted most of those games by himself! Few people associated with professional sports in the last century have had more loyalty and class than Vin Scully. What was interesting for me was contrasting how others viewed him with the way he viewed himself. After he made the announcement, one of the anchors on ESPN said he met Vin Scully one time but was speechless because of the “greatness of his presence”. Scully himself simply said, “All I can say is ‘Thank you, God’ and ‘Please, God, for one more year’”. While Vin Scully’s colleagues and the Dodgers’ players and fans may revere him as a larger-than-life presence, he knows beyond a doubt that he won’t even live to see next year, much less broadcast meaningless baseball games, unless God wills it.

It’s important for all of us to remember that, while God gifts us with certain talents and abilities, he doesn’t really need us to accomplish his plans. He chooses to use us, but does so in our obedience AND disobedience. It’s our choice whether we want to be used as an example of what happens when you do follow God or what happens when you don’t. One of the most important figures of the Old Testament had to learn this, but in the long run was said to be “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

When I first saw those words about Moses from Numbers, I thought it was kind of a contradiction since most scholars agree that Moses wrote the Book of Numbers. I mean, how can you truly be humble if you claim you are more humble than anyone else in the world? However, the words are in parentheses in my Bible, suggesting they were added into the text by someone else sometime after it was first written. So, what would make someone say this about Moses? For starters, look at the story within which those words were spoken. In Numbers 12, Moses’ own brother and sister speak against him. Rather than defend himself, Moses says nothing. You and I know there is great pain when we are mistreated by our own flesh and blood. Yet Moses, recognizing that he is not God and neither are they, simply sits back and watches God defend him. The only time Moses speaks in the whole chapter is when he shows mercy on his sister by asking God to heal her (v. 13).

Like the rest of us, Moses had to learn humility before he could ever get to that point. In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses through a burning bush and tells him to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Just so you know, this would be a really dumb thing to do in the world’s eyes. Moses was comfortable and had good standing with Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and now God was telling him to throw all of that away and trust him. Moses initially asks a series of questions that seem more like stalling tactics than anything else. God is patient and answers his questions and even gives him signs to prove that he is powerful and will be with Moses for the task. Yet even after all of this, Moses has an excuse. In Exodus 4:10, he laments to God that he is “slow of speech and tongue”. After God tells him that God alone gives man the ability to speak and that he will help Moses and teach him what to say, Moses finally says bluntly, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (4:13). God is angry at this point, but his patience is evident in that he doesn’t destroy Moses for his initial disobedience. However, Moses’ initial pride is shown just a few verses later. The Lord meets Moses and his son and is about to kill the boy because he is not circumcised (v. 24). While this seems ridiculous to us, circumcision was a command for the Israelites and was their outward sign of obedience and commitment to God’s covenant with them. Moses had failed to obey in this way and may have lost his son if not for his wife, who circumcised the boy reluctantly (vv. 25-26). Moses had to be humbled and understand the consequence of sin before he could do what God commanded of him.

Spend time reading the rest of the Exodus story and see how Moses continued to obey and rely on God while God provided miracles and signs of his power. There was a clear change in Moses between the time God first appeared to him and the time he finally obeyed and went to Pharaoh. While he initially was thinking about how HE could accomplish the seemingly impossible task and was discouraged and afraid when he looked at all the obstacles, God brought him to a point where he understood that it’s not about Moses. Just before God sends the plagues that ultimately convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he basically tells Moses to go do something that will be a failure. He tells him again to go and speak to Pharaoh about releasing his people, but also tells him ahead of time that Pharaoh will not listen (7:1-3). I’m sorry, what? We’d likely be saying, “But God, that makes no sense!” God then lays out the reason. “Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Exodus 7:4-5).

Moses was obedient, and God kept his promises as he ALWAYS does. But Moses could not get to that point until he accepted that it was never about him. This was true humility. Moses continued to obey God and continued to fail in terms of what others could see. God allowed this to happen so there would be no other explanation for the Israelites’ coming out of Egypt except for by his mighty hand. If Moses had been able to convince Pharaoh, he’d likely walk away thinking, “That’s right, nobody messes with Moses”. But Pharaoh’s repeated denial made God’s mighty power that much more obvious, while at the same time Moses’ apparent personal failures kept him humble and reliant on God for all things. Maybe this helps you as you think about times you were following God and faced what seemed to be failure. I encourage you, whether you have failed or succeeded in your eyes, to intentionally remind yourself and those around you that it’s not your throne and it’s not about you anyway. Your weaknesses and failures are there to remind you of your need for God’s providence. Apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).