Skip to main content

Humility and Tears

            Humility and tears don’t sound like something we would strive for, do they?  Most of us concur that life is found avoiding humility and tears.  The apostle Paul makes some very bold statements in the New Testament books he wrote.  Some wish that he never said what he said about women especially.  In Acts 20:19, Luke quoted his description of ministry when he wrote Paul’s words: I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.

            Paul’s audience was the elders from Ephesus.  These were church leaders who could better comprehend how humility and tears are part of serving God.  Perhaps they needed to hear it again.  They needed to hear it from the one who taught them all he knew about loving and serving God.  These words were most likely received like affirmation that their own service to the Lord was on track with Paul’s example.  This was Paul’s last opportunity to address this group, which caused them great grief (Acts 20:37).  These parting words would need to carry them through their future service to the Lord. 

            Whether you are in paid or unpaid ministry, you would do well to learn the mystery of service to the Lord that Paul is describing because without humility and tears it is likely that your service will be meaningless to the Lord.  It seems to be the only way to serve Him.  One spiritual observer described ministry without humility this way:

If we are not humble we can make ourselves unfit for helping those around us, for pride infects everything.  Where you have a proud person nothing goes right; nobody is treated properly: his family, his friends, his colleagues…He expects and demands special treatment for himself because he considers himself different; one has to take care to avoid hurting his very vulnerable sensibilities.  The dogmatic tone of his utterances, his ironic or sarcastic contributions to any discussion—for he does not mind anyone else being shown up in a poor light if he himself is going to come out well—his tendency to cut short conversations which arise quite naturally, etc.:  all these are signs of something deep seated:  It is the all-consuming egoism that takes possession of the personality when the limited horizons of one’s life are centered on oneself. (Francis Fernandez)

            Humility is the opposite of our sin nature and difficult to maintain; that is precisely the reason we are in desperate need of tears.  Tears are a gift from heaven.  There are two kinds of tears: there are bitter tears and contrite tears.  Humility breeds contrite tears, while pride produces bitter tears.  I can tell you from personal experience contrite tears are the way to go.  They connect you to heaven.  They lead to great joy.  I can also tell you from personal experience that bitter tears will lead to despair and never satisfy a soul until they turn contrite.  We can only feel contrite when we experience our humble status before God and realize all our judgments and blaming is against the One who loves us.

            I was surprised when Paul positively described his service to the Lord with the words humility and tears, rather than a headcount of those he had baptized or how many were in the churches he founded compared to Peter.  After further thought, I conceded that humility and tears is the way I want to describe my service to the Lord.

Copyright © 2013.  Deborah R. Newman www.teatimeforyoursoul.com  All Rights Reserved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Moving Forward

It’s been half a decade since my husband of 27.5 years died suddenly of a brain bleed.  My life turned upside down that weekend, and nothing will ever be the same.  Someone commented to me that I had moved-on.  It was meant to be a compliment, and I totally get the affirmation that was intended.  The truth is I have not moved-on, nor do I ever expect that I will.  I love this quote sent to me in a sympathy card and have shared it over and over with others.  St Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: I can never lose one whom I have loved unto the end; one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated does not go away but only goes before.               Grief should have a beginning, middle and end; that is true.  That first year or two I would have done anything to diminish my pain.  I was in so much pain that I wasn’t even a person.  It’s hard to believe that we humans will naturally grow more comfortable existing in our pit of despair of grief than to let it go…

Thank You Dad

Recently I have been contemplating why it is ingrained in me that I must be quiet and respectful and look at the flag when the national anthem is played.  It’s as natural for me as standing for the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah or for the Bride when she walks through the back door.  Like a Pavlov dog, my instincts go into action, and I do not even think about my somewhat conditioned response. Why?  It was definitely my own father who had the most influence over me regarding the national anthem.  I am not a sports enthusiast.  However, from a young age I found myself at sports games because my older brother played every sport offered.  Our family faithfully attended those games, which normally started with the national anthem.  I found a way to enjoy the otherwise agonizing experience of being held prisoner to my brother’s sporting events by gravitating to my friends who were there under duress as well.  We made up games of our own; we would laugh and talk throughout the q…

Waiting on Lila

On the first day of Advent I awoke to a call at 3:20 am that I should come to the hospital because my daughter was being taken down to deliver Lila—my first grandchild!  I had been first alerted to her early arrival two days before when Rachel's water broke, but not much labor. I arrived in Birmingham seven and a half hours later (it would have been sooner but there wasn’t a direct flight!). And then...we waited. We waited on Lila’s lungs to respond to a couple of steroid shots (she was three weeks early). As we waited, we halfway watched football and occasionally made small talk about subjects other than Lila’s birth; but mainly we carried on just wishing, wondering and thinking we could plan for the time that Lila would arrive based on the medical advice we were given.  All we could think about was what we were waiting for, our baby girl to come into the world.

While waiting on Lila, a code blue was called to her room; then the number was changed to the room next door. We Gran…