Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone, only to have them stubbornly refuse it? Obviously if that act was outrageously huge or sacrificial, we can all understand and support the declination on the grounds that the degree of generosity was simply inappropriate, albeit appreciated for thought. What I am talking about, though, are small tokens of kindness like covering a sub at the local sandwich shop or shuttling someone to the airport (I mean, who really wants to leave their car in remote parking and pay for it to sit there?). We all are the recipients of such blessings from time to time, yet some are unwilling to accept them.
To anyone to whom this applies, please understand that this is from a brother in Christ who simply wants you to have the opportunity to experience grace at the hands of your fellow brothers and sisters, and who hopes you will lay down the pride that deprives your spiritual family of their chances to serve you.
If you have ever been to dinner with yours and another’s family with both dads present, you may have witnessed a gentlemanly exchange when the check arrives. Assume that neither were expected to pay for the other’s family. Here’s how it goes:
Dad-1: <takes the check before Dad-2 can get it>
Dad-2: “Hey, hand that over here, or at least let me pay for my part.”
Dad-1: “That’s okay. I’ve got it. It’ll be our treat and I’m sure we can make up for it over another dinner.”
Dad-2: “Are you sure? Because you really don’t need to do that.”
Dad-1: “Yup, I’m sure.”
The recipient of the gift is allowed to offer a few courteous objections, but in the end, humility calls that person to accept it in thankfulness. If Dad-2 instead chose to unwaveringly demand to pay for his own part, it would quickly take the joy out of Dad-1’s generosity, and while his money would be saved, his grace and blessing of being a giver would be lost.
Events like these are mini-likenesses of the gracious act of Salvation, which God gives us through Jesus Christ. Many unbelievers today insist on trying to pay their parts, when the Bible clearly states that it has been fully paid by Jesus’ work on the cross and any attempt on our own is prideful and rejects the unmerited gift of God. Just like salvation, we are each unworthy of the kindnesses of others — the surprise birthday party, the mission trip support, the get-well card — yet we are called to humble acceptance. In doing so, we give praise to the Father who is the ultimate Giver of all things and who uses us as instruments of His grace.
Even so, humility is rarely expressed without sacrifice. If I have accomplished some great achievement or soared above my peers, humility requires the sacrifice of my pride and the praise that might come if I flaunted it before others. If you are in a meeting of many people and you are clearly the expert on the subject at hand, humility asks you to be patient and graciously speak when the time is proper, but not to lay claim to your position, even though you have every right to it. If you are uncomfortable around certain people or situations, such as being the beneficiary of grace, humility appeals to you to step out of your comfort zone and accept the grace which is ours to give and receive in Christ Jesus.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” -John 13:14-15
If all of us are willing to wash, but unwilling to humbly accept being washed, how will we live out the Lord’s example?
(c) 2007 Veritas Road