Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.
Sometimes I banter with God. Every now and then, I’ll tease him, telling him that since he disciplines the children he loves (Heb. 12:6), he must really love me because he often disciplines me by driving me into the desert and allowing me to spend long periods of time there. Other times, I wonder aloud to him about whether I am as stubborn and as stiff-necked as the Israelites. I’d like to think I am not, but then I’d be kidding myself. Maybe he’s trying to break me of my stubbornness and (as he did with Moses) trying to form me into one of the most humble people on earth by making me at home in the desert. I can’t get away with anything, not a single thing. The Lord won’t let me get away with a single un-Christlike disposition, behavior, or thought—not for long anyway.
The Holy Spirit is intent on immediately convicting me and calling me to repentance. Of course, that’s not unique to me. All of us are called to repent immediately and make things right, even if it’s uncomfortable. All of us become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit the longer we walk with God. Can’t God just cut us some slack when it comes to immediate conviction of wrongdoing and repentance in the little things? That’s a thought I have when I’m in a foul mood and don’t feel like repenting and reconciling right away, even though I know I have to if I am to keep destruction in myself and in the world at bay. As I tell our little girls, “We must obey right away.”
God is continually calling me (and every one of us) to take up the cross of obedience. In God’s hands, crosses that are considered instruments of death become instruments of life-giving grace and conduits of shalom. Of course, few of us look forward to taking up our crosses daily and dying a thousand deaths to self in the span of a lifetime. Need we be reminded again that such dying is the Jesus way? In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that the call to discipleship is the call to die. The wisdom of God teaches us that we must die these deaths so that we might live.
Every time we refuse to die to the godless self, the life of God in us weakens. The process of dying to ourselves takes a lot out of us. We vacillate between putting to death the deeds of the ﬂesh (in obedience to God) and hanging on to familiar death. We panic, and then we rationalize our decisions to cling to the unredeemed parts of ourselves. Sometimes we hesitate and decide we want to keep the godless parts of us alive after all. We don’t like to die even when it’s good for us.