Genesis 2:7 (NIV)
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Let’s begin today by lifting up what is already a banner text for this series.
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21. The Message)
In simple humility. If only it were that simple, right? What if it is that simple? Here’s my question: What if humility were not some kind of character trait we tried to emulate? This usually leads to some false form of humility like self abnegation or deprecation or the pretense of elevating others while seeming to lower oneself. What if humility is not an activity to be practiced or even a virtue, but rather, an identity? What if simple humility has little to do with pointing out who or what we are not but rather who we most truly are?
We are humble.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground
Notice the connection between the word “humble” and “human.” Now notice how these words connect to the term humus. We are dirt. We are made from the ground on which we walk. We don’t have to be humble. We are humble. This is the beginning of the awakening life—the deep, glorious, grateful recognition of our humble humus formed humanity. We are dust. To become deeply aware of the simplicity of our identity as human beings is step one on the path to humility.
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
We are dirt, but we possess the breath of God. We are formed of dirt and filled with breath. This is the possibility the farmer poet speaks of when he says, “The possibility of human life whose terms are Heaven’s and this earth’s.” My friend Pete Greig might call this, “dirty glory.” The problem is we have come to associate the word dirty with depravity which leads us not only away from simple humility but toward seeing our humanity as something to be despised and discarded rather than redeemed and reclaimed.
I have always found it interesting and a bit confounding that religion, church, faith, and any other word associated with God are almost exclusively associated with what is referred to as one’s spiritual life. Why not one’s whole life; as in heart, mind, soul, strength, indeed one’s whole dirt-formed embodied self?
We will dig into this tomorrow, but what I think I am trying to say is we have made the fundamental mistake of believing our world and our lives are defined and dictated by Genesis 3, original sin, depravity, and fallenness. To be sure, we are profoundly desecrated by these realities, but not defined by them. We are defined by the verities of Genesis 1 and 2 and the radiant reality of original glory. This is why salvation is everything and letting “our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life” matters more than anything else.
It begins (and middles and ends) with simple humility.
Final thought today—don’t you find it interesting that humility is not included in the fruit-of-the-Spirit list? Why is that? It’s because humility is not the fruit but the ground. Humility is not the end of transformational growth and fruitful life but its beginning and ongoing condition.
Wake up sleeper. You are becoming a saint.
Farmer God, this is challenging my thinking. I am so prone to thinking of my humanness as the problem. It is my excuse. After all, I’m only human, right? But what could be more glorious than to be a human being, made in your image, fashioned by dirt and filled with your breath? Bring me into this kind of simple humility—the awe-filled recognition of who and how you have made me. It makes me want to worship you. And then I think of Jesus, the Word made flesh by dirt and breath. Come Holy Spirit and awaken me to this visionary life. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
What are your thoughts about this concept of humility? How do you tend to think of it or define it? What, then, would be false humility?
For the Awakening,