Humility in deeds, not words alone....

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It's important to remember that pride is made clear by both word and deed and not by words alone in assessing pride and humility. 

Neglecting this truth leads to false accusations. In Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan and Abiram lead a rebellion against Moses and Aaron saying, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” 

They accuse Moses of lording it over the people by speaking for God. Moses "angrily" defends himself before God by saying, "Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them." His defense lies in his deeds. He is not proud simply because he speaks for God. He has done them no harm, nor has he profited from them in any way.

God's leaders are routinely accused of pride for speaking His Word. It doesn't matter that they've never sought to elevate themselves over their people in any earthly way. It doesn't matter that they refuse material gain at the expense of their people. Daily lives of faith, sacrifice, even poverty are vitiated in the view of their critics by the "arrogance" of presuming to speak for God. Is it any wonder, then, that opponents routinely charged Calvin, Luther and Edwards with pride and arrogance?

More often, however, failure to judge in accord with deeds leads to the establishment of shell-game humility in the Church. You know what a shell game is, don't you? Those street-corner operations where the credulous are seduced by fast-talking operators into betting on which cup the token lies under?

The problem is, the token's not under any cup. It's an act, a sleight-of-hand disguised by the operator's convincing patter--and often by the backing testimony of shills.

TFT:LifewaySo it is with much of the "humility" of the Evangelical and Reformed world. There's a lot of talk about it, but humility in action is seldom to be found in those places where it's most talked about.

The Uriah Heep "'umbleness" of many in the Evangelical and Reformed world should be met with the guffaw it deserves.

TFT:Crossway When Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald put themselves on screens at the center of churches and call people to worship God by watching their images, justifying it on the basis of God's greatness and denying that pride lies at the core of the thing they're doing, we should laugh like kids at recess listening to the school runt claim to be his Little League team's home run king. A derisive cackle followed by a sarcastic, "Right. You and Nebuchadnezzar both," should be our response to those who seek to justify video preaching on the basis of personal gifts and love for God.

TFT:THEBIGBOYS The same with the various marketing cabals formed by preachers such as "Together4theGospel." Really? The Gospel is what lies behind your marketing shtick, your self-referential blog posts and conferences, all the pictures and videos of you with each other? That's what it's all about? Not publicity? Not the mutually-aggrandizing nature of the thing? Really? 

Campus Crusade only wants to lead people to Jesus? That's why they've reformed their name to Cru? Because Jesus is so wonderful and they don't want to get in His way? Really?

TFT:ALLTHECOOLDUDES! Articles on humility by pastors who charge for their sermons. Unxious tweets on the glories of grace by good-looking young dudes who happen to have a book on grace you can buy. Sincerity-oozing statements of "authenticity" and "passion" by hipster men in pulpits....

TFT:MealPlanI propose we cut through the crud by setting a bottom line assumption: the man who makes over $100,000 yearly from his "Christian" work needs to prove humility in ways that go beyond words.

In the sixties the rallying cry of the hippies was, "Never trust anyone over the age of 30."

Let's not trust the "'umbleness" of Christian leaders who make over $100,000 yearly from their "ministries", OK? Let's seek humble actions, not just words from those who would teach us the mind of Christ.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!