God's Ways With Us
The importance of humility in a Christian walk.
"The Lord ... is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." ISAIAH 28:29
David says in the psalms:
"Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word ... I thank thee, Lord, that thou in thy faithfulness hast afflicted me for when thou humbledst me thou makest me great."
What David is talking about is the general experience of all children of God. It is the general rule in heaven: no one can receive God's grace unless he has been humbled beforehand. If God wants to bless someone, He will have to chastise him first. If God wants to lift a person up into heaven, He will have to cast him down into hell first. If Jesus wants to fill somebody's heart with mercy, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost - John the Baptist will have to come first to preach repentance unto the person's heart.
Why is that? Every person is a sinner and every sinner is proud. However, Jesus cannot dwell with a proud person. He hates no one more, His soul detests no one more and He abhors no one more so than the proud. Therefore, the proud heart of a man will have to be shattered, frightened, and broken by preaching repentance. Only when the proud heart of a man becomes humble after genuine repentance can the Lord enter in, for as He resists the proud, He gives grace to the humble.
We see this with all those who have a role in God's Kingdom and who can be called children of the Almighty. Look at righteous Joseph - he walks from one humiliation to the other. Our dear Lord is very keen to afflict and discourage him. For fourteen years, God does nothing but beat into him that he has to be a thorn in his brothers' flesh; he has to become an Egyptian slave; he has to lie in prison as an adulterer and criminal and even has to be betrayed, left behind and forgotten by those he always dealt with favourably. Only then does God turn the tears of pain into tears of joy and shows mercy unto him.
Or look at Moses, the faithful servant of God. When he was a proud son of the king, God could not use him. Only after the proud son of the king had been afflicted and humbled in the desert of Midian for forty years, so that he considered himself to be nothing but a poor unworthy sinner who was not fit for anything, did the Lord lift him up and make him head over Israel and lord of His people.
Or look at David: God's arrows were deeply implanted into his heart, and God made him so small that he exclaimed with fear in his soul:
"Lord, thou hast brought me into the dust of death, thou hast cast me off, I am a worm and no man, For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me." God calls this afflicted and broken David a man after His own heart. He teaches him to sing psalms of joy later on:
"Lord, thou settest my feet upon a rock, thou refreshest me with joy from your countenance. Praise the Lord, my soul, because the Lord doeth good unto you, forever I will stand before him, because my sins are forgiven and my iniquity is covered therefore I have to rejoice."
In the New Testament it is the same. Peter only became a rock after he had cried bitterly. Saul only became Paul after he had not eaten or drunk for three days and three nights, because his soul was tormented. Only when he realised that he was the worst of all sinners, only when he cried out:
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" - only then the Lord taught him to rejoice.
Now, realise why the Lord is leading us to repentance, mourning and trials. It is only because He plans to take us up into heaven with joy, that He has to humble us first. It is because He wants to give us all heavenly mercy and peace, that He has to chasten and cast us down first. Therefore He sends us His preachers of repentance, who are to prepare the way for Him to come into our hearts.
You must understand that the deeper you humble yourselves before the Lord in genuine repentance, the more willingly you let yourselves be cast down and let the old proud Adam be trodden down, and the more honest you are when you cry tears of repentance before the Lord, then the more the Lord will pour into your cup of joy with His hand. Therefore, we will humble ourselves in genuine repentance before the Lord, so that we can rejoice in blessed joy when His grace flows through and floods our heart:
"This is the day, that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!" Amen.
by Ludwig Harms
Translated from the German: "Gottes Wege mit uns"Source: 'Brosamen aus Gottes Wort', 2nd edition; Hermannsburg, 1893, pages 299-302.