Jun 15, 2012
Let’s say you read Paul urging you to “put on … humility” (Col 3:12).
And then you think —
That’s what I need — to put on humility.
So far, so good.
But the crucial question is — HOW?
How do you actually DO that?
Which of these describe you?
There’s four different approaches to obeying commands like “put on humility.” (If you think of others — let me know — thanks!)
The Will-Power Approach
This approach assumes — wrongly — that obedience comes from trying harder.
So when it comes to “putting on humility” — we might try hard not to think proud thoughts — or try hard not to take credit for things.
But trying harder only changes me on the outside — for a little while.
It doesn’t change me on the inside — in a way that lasts.
The Passive Approach
This approach rightly emphasizes that we can’t do anything apart from Christ — that He has to produce humility in us.
But instead of asking how He works humility in us — and what we do to experience His power — this approach encourages us to do nothing. Just “let go and let God.”
But Paul doesn’t say do nothing and God will make you humble.
He commands us to do something — put on humility.
The Spiritual Disciplines Approach
This approach states that as we use biblical means of grace — like prayer and reading God’s Word — we will grow in humility.
And sometimes that does happen. But sometimes — it doesn’t.
Why not? It’s because this approach doesn’t spell out how God uses prayer and His Word to change our hearts and produce obedience.
It doesn’t explain how to pray or what to read to grow in humility.
And if we don’t know that — we can pray and pray and pray — and read and read and read — with no increase in humility.
The Obedience of Faith Approach
None of the above approaches asks this crucial question —
What truths does Paul give which — when we trust them — will increase our humility?
That’s important — because God doesn’t just give us commands which He wants us to push ourselves to obey.
He also gives reasons and promises and truths by which the Holy Spirit empowers us to obey.
Which means every Bible-command will be joined to truths which — when we trust them — will produce obedience.
So what truths does Paul join to the command to put on humility?
Look at the entire verse —
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility…” (Col 3:12).
Let’s take these one at a time —
We are God’s chosen ones
Earlier in Colossians Paul said we were dead in trespasses and sins (Col 2:13) — and that we deserve God’s wrath for our sins (Col 3:6).
But instead of leaving us to wrath — God chose us for salvation — making us alive so we believed, and forgiving all our sins through Jesus Christ (Col 2:13).
Think of it. You deserved only the wrath of God.
But God chose you for salvation.
As you pray over that truth, and the Holy Spirit enables you to see , trust, and taste it — you will feel humility.
We are holy
This has loads of implications. I’ll focus on just one —
Holiness means being set apart for God — which means God has set me apart for the joy of knowing Him.
Feel this. You were dead in sin. You deserved only His wrath.
But now — with mercy and love God has set you apart for the joy of knowing Him. Forever.
We are beloved by God
Think of it.
There exists a God of infinite power, absolute sovereignty, glorious majesty.
You owe Him perfect trust and love. But you willingly mutinied against Him and rightly faced his wrath (Col 3:6).
God could rightly feel only wrath towards you.
But — instead — God poured the wrath upon His son, and God gave you faith by His Spirit — and now God loves you.
Even more humility.
Do you see how this works?
We don’t will-power our way to humility.
We don’t passively wait for humility.
We don’t just read the Bible and pray and hope for humility.
What we do — is pray over the humility-producing truths mentioned by Paul.
We pray over them until the Holy Spirit enables us to see them — trust them — feel them.
When we do — we will feel increasing humility.
That’s how God wants us to obey this — and all of His commands.
Comments? Feedback? Questions?
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And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
How to Obey God -- Self-Pushing or Spirit-Empowering?
How the Holy Spirit enables us to obey
My battle with pride
Will-power vs. Spirit-power
(Picture on everystockphoto by anyjazz65.)