What does God use to keep you humble?
In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about how God keeps him humble. He says, "I refrain from [boasting] so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:6-10)
Before we go on let me ask how many of you skimmed or skipped reading the above passage? I do it too! We say to ourselves, "I know this...moving along". Let me encourage you to go back and read it...slowly.
Now, moving on. Paul says a lot in these few verses; I want to focus in on one thing - God purposefully gave him something to keep him humble. The text tells us that God gave Paul a "thorn" in the flesh. Many speculate that this "thorn" was that Paul had bad/failing eyes (see Gal. 4:13-15). What the thorn was doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that it was God's plan for Paul to have the thorn to keep him humble.
So I ask, "What does God use to keep you humble?" One of the things God uses to keep me humble is clogged and/or overflowing toilets. Whether it was my first day in seminary, or shortly after I became your pastor, or an hour after a really great sermon, God has consistently used potty messes to remind me of my position and needed attitude. It's hard to think you're great and important as you unclog someone else's feces or mop up someone's unsuccessful attempt at using indoors plumbing. Now don't go patting me on the back for cleaning up - my pride says I'm too important to take care of this, that someone else should fix the problem so that I can go and do what I need to do.
Ready for an embarrassing confession? I once left someone's bad aim on the floor for someone else to clean up...only to come back the next day and find it still there... You know what I did then? Worship! God blessed me by giving me the chance to be humble. I really mean that too. I believe that God ordained that urine to be there the next day so that I could allow Him to revive in me an attitude and spirit of humility. God actually caused me to pray that it would be there! Now you know that that's God - no way I'm praying for that.
Enough about me. What does God use to keep YOU humble? Can you see it as a blessing? Can you see it as him making his power perfect in you? When a circumstance is unfavorable to us we have a choice: we can get frustrated and complain, or we can remember that God is sovereign (in control) and see it as an opportunity to learn humility, patience, gentleness, kindness, love, etc.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with potty messes. For when God keeps me humble and relying on him, then (and only then) I am strong.
Worshiping God with you,