Tag Archives: humility

Incognito

Story of the Day for Thursday December 15, 2011

Incognito

                  He was in the world, and even though the world was created through him, the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, but his own people didn’t accept him. 

                                                                                                 John 1:10-11

On January 12, 2007, a man in his late 30s walked into the L’Enfant Plaza in Washington D.C. Dressed in T-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap, and standing by a trash can, he opened his fiddle case and began playing the violin during the morning rush hour.

In 43 minutes, 1,097 people passed by, and only a half dozen paused to listen for a few minutes. No one applauded.

 

What makes this incident remarkable is that the musician was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s most renowned violinists. He was playing his Stradivarius, which he purchased for three-and-a half million dollars. Three days earlier he sold out Boston’s Symphony Hall, where “pretty good” seats fetched $100 and the best sold for $500.

Joshua Bell is so good he can command a performance fee of one thousand dollars a minute.

 

Gene Weingarten, a staff writer for The Washington Post, wanted to find out if, in a commonplace setting, and at an inconvenient time, people could still recognize beauty and artistic brilliance. So, he convinced Bell to perform incognito as a busker.

Apparently not.

Not long after his metro station concert, Joshua Bell was awarded the Avery Fisher prize as the best classical musician in America.

 

Once, God came to earth. The One through whom the universe was created entered our world.

But the world didn’t notice.

 

How could that happen?

Well, why don’t we look at it the other way round. I can assure you that if Jesus strutted into every village wearing a tux, while the announcer for the Chicago Bulls introduced him, and if lightning flashed while the heavens opened and legions of angels thundered doxologies, the world would’ve given him a standing ovation. They would have recognized him as the mighty God come in the flesh, and begged Him for his autograph.

 

But Jesus didn’t want us to notice his power; he wanted us to see his merciful kindness. He didn’t come to be admired, but to rescue us. So, he came in humility.

The world will never be ready for a God who comes to us wearing a baseball cap. If you want to learn to recognize Him, then remember that He will never be what you expect; he will only be what you need.

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Bruised and Showered With Dirt

Story of the Day for Wednesday December 14, 2011

Bruised and Showered With Dirt

                   So David and his men kept going along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside paralleling him, and as he went he cursed and threw stones and showered him with dirt.  

                                                                                             2 Samuel 16:13

Jeannine Buckley wrote to Reader’s Digest about a petty argument she had with her husband, Lonn, in which both of them were unwilling to admit they might be wrong.

In an effort at conciliation, Jeannine said, “I’ll admit I’m wrong, if you’ll admit I’m right.” Lonn agreed and insisted his wife go first.

“I’m wrong,” she said.

With a twinkle in his eye, he replied, “You’re right!”

 

I like Lonn already. I used to think I was always right about everything too – despite the adamant objections of those around me.  For years it was a source of wonder to me – why did I possess such an uncanny ability to be right about everything, while everyone else around me was so often mistaken and misguided?  It couldn’t be mere coincidence. Was it my towering intellect or just a boundless supply of common sense?

It took me most of my life before I finally realized that the reason I was always right was because I was woefully lacking in humility.

 

When king David was fleeing from Absalom, a man by the name of Shimei met them along the way. He called David a scoundrel and, as he cursed the king, he pelted him with stones. David’s commander, Abishai, quickly assessed the situation and offered to have the man decapitated.

Oddly, king David ordered that they leave him alone, because, who knows? – he might be right. The royal retinue plodded on while Shimei kept up the tempo of his curses, while he whipped stones at them and showered them with dust.

God called David a man after his own heart. The Lord certainly didn’t say that because David was always right. He said it because David was humble.

 

The war was not going well when President Lincoln, with his assistant, John Hay, and Secretary of State, William Seward, paid a visit to General McClellan’s home. The servant told the President they would have to wait until he returned from a wedding.

An hour later, McClellan returned and looked bemused as he walked past the room in which they were waiting. They sat patiently, and waited.

Finally, the servant returned and informed the President that the general had decided to go to bed.

On their way home, Hay fumed over McClellan’s insolence, but Lincoln calmly replied that this was no time to be concerned about one’s dignity. “I will hold McClellan’s horse,” Lincoln said, “if he will only bring us success.”

 

David and Lincoln were two of history’s greatest leaders. But their secret power was not in armies, but the ability to keep moving while bruised and showered with dirt.

                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

The Mystery Critic

Story of the Day for Thursday September 15, 2011

The Mystery Critic

                    Love. . . doesn’t envy. It doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud. 

                                                         1 Corinthians 13:4

 Sir Walter Scott, who was born in 1771, pulled off a feat that no one author had ever accomplished. He became the first English writer to enjoy an international reputation while he was still alive – with avid fans in Great Britain, Europe, North America, and Australia.

Scott is best known for his novels. In fact, he invented the genre of the historical narrative. But historical novels weren’t his only innovation: in order to maintain his image as Great Britain’s leading poet, he wrote his first novels anonymously. After his first novel, Waverly, he published his later novels as “Author of Waverly.”

As if being the best writer in the English world wasn’t enough, Sir Walter Scott was granted permission by the future King George IV to search for the long lost crown of Charles II. Armed with military assistants, Scott found the Crown Jewels of Scotland in the bowels of a castle in Edinburgh, and a grateful royalty granted Scott the title of baronet.

Sir Walter Scott could hardly rise higher in popularity.

 

At the height of Scott’s popularity, however, a usurper arose. Lord Byron, a young, charismatic poet began to publish his works.

A London paper printed the reviews of an anonymous contributor. The reviewer gushed over the works of Bryron – praising his poetic genius. Sir Walter Scott, the anonymous critic maintained, could no longer be considered the leading poet of England. Later, it was discovered that the mystery critic was Sir Walter Scott himself.

 

Scott considered literary envy “a base sensation” and lauded Byron as “the man whose splendour dimmed the fame of his competitors.”

Not only did Scott work to bolster the popularity of Lord Byron, but he also defended authors that were scoffed at by the critics. Jane Austen, who today is recognized as a literary giant, was, in the 19th century dismissed as a “woman’s novelist.” Sir Walter Scott was one of the few males who came to her defense and commended Austen’s genius.

 

Scott desperately needed readers to buy his books. When businesses, in which he was heavily invested, crashed, he was financially ruined. Rather than declare bankruptcy, however, he determined to write himself out of debt.  But he never considered the option of bettering his popularity by trying to diminish the fame of his fellow authors.

 

Love is an odd thing. It doesn’t resent the success of others but rejoices for them, rejoices with them. When the Bible urges us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we begin to learn that we are not at our greatest when we stand boastfully above our rivals, but when we devote our attention to making others better.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Include the Humble Folk

Story of the Day for Saturday September 10, 2011

Include the Humble Folk

                      Be of the same mind toward each other. Don’t be arrogant in your thinking, but make accommodation for the humble folk. 

                                                                                          Romans 12:16

 Imagine a committee of ten members. Everyone has a degree in political science – except one man, who is a vacuum cleaner repairman. A political think tank wants to fly the committee to Washington immediately to help solve an urgent problem. The plane, however, can only seat nine passengers. One member of the committee  must stay back. Who do you choose to leave behind?

The vacuum cleaner repairman, right?

Well no. Actually, the vacuum cleaner repairman should be considered the one indispensible member of the committee.

 

The notion that the repairman is vital to the group comes from the Bible. Well, maybe not that specifically, but that’s where the principle first arose.

 

Researchers are confirming what we have long suspected: “stupid” people make a group smarter.

Have you ever been in a meeting when some lowly novice makes a comment so outlandish that the room erupts in laughter? And then someone says, “Hey, wait a minute – I think he might have a point here.”

When groups of experts get together, they support each other’s views. Their respect for each other’s expertise actually makes them more stupid.

Scott E. Page, a professor at the University of Michigan, posed problems for groups to solve. Some groups were all experts. Other groups included experts and not-so-smart members. Now, get this: the mixed group with the lower average intelligence was always better at solving problems than the group consisting solely of experts.

 

Cool. So, what’s the point?

Groups tend to exclude (or at least, look down on) the person who isn’t on the same wavelength as everyone else. The world thinks the quality of the group will improve when they get rid of the “misfits.”

The Bible says we must take pains to include the “humble folk.” Paul is talking about us as Christians, and about the need to work as a group – to share a common attitude and mindset.  But he makes the observation that wouldn’t be “discovered” for a couple thousand years. Paul warns us against haughtiness. We must renounce an attitude of superiority and show special attention to the “humble folk.”

Why? Because all people are important. And, besides, without them, we’d be pretty stupid.

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Lessening Our Height

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 28, 2011

Lessening Our Height

                  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by the quality of his behavior – in actions that demonstrate wisdom’s humility. 

                                                         James 3:13

A police officer arrested a man in Plentywood, Montana, for drunk driving. The man refused to take the breathalyzer and insisted he had to go to the bathroom first. The officer granted his request and waited outside the rest room until he came out.

When the motorist emerged his lips and tongue were blue. He had been told that toilet bowl freshener would disguise alcohol on the breath and foil a breath analyzer.

He was wrong.

Ignorance of what is true can leave us sitting behind bars with an unpleasant taste in our mouth. John Newton, who authored the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” said: “Zeal without knowledge is like speed to a man in the dark.”.

Knowledge is vitally important because it can keep our mouth from turning blue. Yet, knowledge, in itself, can also be harmful. Philip Gulley makes a telling observation in his novel, Home Town Tales, when he writes: “Teenagers sit at the picnic table and carve dirty words into the wood. It is a testimony to our town’s academic excellence that all the words are spelled correctly.”

Education that has been torn free from morality cannot make you wise; it can only increase the effectiveness of evil. Adlai Stevenson liked to tell the story about the prisoner who said to his cellmate: “I’m going to study and improve myself – and when you’re still a common thief, I’ll be an embezzler.”

Wisdom can’t be measured by an I.Q. test or a tendency to win at Trivial Pursuit™.  As odd as it may sound, the Bible tells us the foundation for wisdom is humility. Wisdom, in other words, is not rooted in information, but in character.

Look at it this way: the best thing we could ever do is allow God to pour his love over us. But God’s gifts can only be given to the humble. Whoever accepts God’s gracious offer and responds by living filled with the fruits of love, is wiser than anyone holding a diploma from M.I.T.

When I was in grade school I remember reading a book of brain teasers at my cousin’s house. One posed this problem: A truck tried to go under a bridge and got stuck. People brought in tow trucks and tried to pull it out, but it was wedged tight. Then a young boy suggested they let the air out of the truck tires. It worked.

Everyone else was focused on power to dislodge the truck; no one but the young boy saw the problem from a different perspective: decreasing the height of the truck. But that’s what true wisdom is like; lessening our height that we might know what it’s like to be free.

                                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Being the “Rightest”

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 21, 2011

Being the “Rightest”

 

                    You rescue the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  

                                                                       2 Samuel 22:28

After God has delivered his opinion on haughtiness, it is amazing how many of his followers vie with each other to be the haughtiest.

Christians have split up into countless denominations and every one of them believes the same thing: we’re righter than anyone else about doctrine, and we feel pretty smug about it. When was the last time you heard a denomination admit: “We want to follow Jesus, but, frankly, we’re not sure our doctrine is perfect”?

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to be right about stuff. But it’s even more important to be humble. None of us knows God so well that we have eliminated all the fuzziness in our understanding of him.

Yet, how often do we admit that we’ve bumped up against Bible passages that don’t want to agree with our present understanding? We Christians – and especially we Bible teachers – are not eager to talk about the many passages in Scripture that still have us puzzled.

 

In September of 1864, London’s Soho district was ravaged by a cholera epidemic. 143 residents in the Broad Street area died within a single day.

Dr. John Snow believed the cholera outbreak was caused by contaminated water from the public Broad Street pump. But everyone else – including the Medical Committee and a local curate, Rev. Henry Whitehead, believed Snow was wrong.

Dr. Snow wrote up his observations, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, but Whitehead and the Medical Committee overseeing the epidemic disagreed with his conclusions. In opposition to Dr. Snow, Whitehead wrote an opposing account, The Cholera in Berwick Street.

In an effort to prove Snow wrong, Rev. Whitehead began a personal investigation. He went door to door – asking residents about sanitation and their use of the Broad Street water pump.

When he finished his investigation he realized his data supported Dr. Snow’s position. Whitehead did what few have the humility to do: he publicly renounced his former position and urged the Medical Committee to listen to Snow.

 

We now know that Snow’s view about cholera has been validated. But for a decade after Snow presented his evidence, the medical community continued to call his position unsound. Whitehead, alone, was humble enough to admit that his original opposition to Snow had been wrong.

 

If you want to feel superior to others, don’t gloat that you’re the “rightest”; strive to be the humblest. Then you can take pride in being . . . hey, wait a minute – I think I just goofed up somewhere.

                                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Even A Bug Can Teach

Story of the Day for Thursday June 2, 2011

Even A Bug Can Teach

 

                 When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom.

                                                                      Proverbs 11:2

 

 

The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.

 

Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.

 

Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.

 

When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.

 

God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

                                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)