Turn and Humble Yourself[This article is part of the Turntables series]
I hope the Turntables series has been an encouragement to your faith. As we’ve seen, repentance is an obvious theme throughout Scripture. It’s a requirement of every follower of Christ to repent and obey the gospel. Continuing the discussion, I find it appropriate to add some words about humility, as it relates to our repentance. As we turn from sin, and encourage others to turn, we must do so with as much humility as possible.
Without humility, it will be difficult to not only introduce people to Jesus but follow Jesus ourselves. Walking in obedience to God is difficult enough as it is. We make it way harder when we don’t get a grip on our pride issues. There’s a person in Scripture that comes to mind when I think about what not to do—his name is Simon the Magician.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8:18-24, ESV)
Following Jesus involves a good balance in things. We walk fruitfully when we can balance being confident in the faith while being humble. Simon the Magician saw the apostles show up in Samaria to solidify the ministry that Philip the Evangelist influenced. Simon had called himself “The Great One,” and made all kinds of claims to having magical powers and spiritual authority. Upon hearing the gospel through Philip, Simon “believed” and was baptized. Although, his eyes seemed to be on the power given to the apostles rather than the Savior who sent the apostles.
Approaching the apostles, Simon offers Peter some money to receive the power which passed through the apostles onto the people. Peter gives such an intense rebuke that commentators are unsure if Simon is really saved. It’s possible that all of Simon’s believing, and his baptism, was done for the wrong reasons because his heart was not right. He showed no humility. If you’re not sure if there is genuine repentance in someone, it’s understandable to assume they’re unconverted.
Some may argue that Simon the magician was saved; others aren’t so sure there was genuine repentance within Simon. I’m not quick to judge someone’s heart. For all I know, he could have been. After all, he was at the very beginning stages of his sanctification. However, it’s still not crystal clear. He did “believe,” but as we discussed in the first Turntables article, it’s one thing to believe that God exists, and it’s another to believe on him as Savior. It’s not very clear that Simon humbled himself, repented, and trusted Jesus to be his Lord and Savior.
When I read about Simon, I’m hearing God remind me that I am not worthy to be a part of his work, let alone his family. We have no right to demand any power from God or his people. We may be chosen by God to accomplish his work, and be used by him, but we have no grounds to demand anything, such as signs, power, or authority. If we believe we deserve such things, our heart is not right. This is why Peter gave Simon such a harsh rebuke.
Our repentance must involve lowering ourselves. The Lord Jesus humbled himself, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). In great humility, Jesus stepped down from his throne in heaven to serve those who hated him, beaten him, and killed him. It’s really sad how poorly we compare to the humility of Christ. It’s not even comparable. We often struggle to serve others at the expense of a few minutes of discomfort. Jesus gave his whole life as a sacrifice. If we are going to be repentant, we must humble ourselves like Jesus.
Let’s take stock—is your repentance pretty good? Are you satisfied with your repentance? Think about Paul’s instruction to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Can you say that you have done an A+ job with this? Of course not… However, we must be increasing in this as best we can. We better be headed in this direction. Over time, we should be getting closer to saying yes. We are all a work in progress, or at least we should be.
God opposes the proud, and God’s people will oppose the proud too (cf. Acts 8:22-23). The only place you may find some acceptance as a proud person is around other proud people, but even that’s not guaranteed. If you desire to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, you need to humble yourself. Understand, with an eternal perspective, we are nothing. Our life is but a mist; we are like grass—one minute here, the next minute gone.
God is eternal, powerful, and awesome. We can demand nothing from him. Any good we receive from him is an honorable gift.
Jesus mastered the balance of walking in perfect confidence while being perfectly humble. He never forsook truth, yet sent people away in peace most of the time (with a few exceptions). He certainly did not please everybody, yet never gave in to the temptation of pride. Possessing full authority, to do anything he pleases, he chose to humble himself.
Our repentance must involve humility like our Lord’s. As we turn to Christ, and follow him, may our humility be ever-increasing, making it obvious that we have met Jesus Christ.
View another Turntables article here.