Saturday, July 25, 2020

becoming less

“My heart is not lifted up, O Lord, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”(Psalm 131:1)
     
The truth be known, most of us do concern ourselves with great matters.  In fact, we pursue them.  We like to be right in the middle of the action.  We have a need to leave our mark, air our opinions, show our wisdom.  It is what gives us value and worth.
     
The only problem is that that’s not the way the life of the Spirit was meant to be lived.  Life with Jesus is not a life in which we are constantly trying to make a splash, to achieve great things, to make a name for ourselves.  In fact, Jesus did quite the opposite, and calls us to do the same: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself and made himself nothing,.” (Philippians 2:5-7)
     
King David knew this also, that’s why he did not concern himself with great matters or things too wonderful for him.  He knew the value of humility.  He knew that true spiritual leadership was best exercised by becoming less and making yourself nothing, not by becoming more and constantly trying to make yourself something—which is counter-intuitive in the world in which we live.  In life with Jesus, less is more and small is big and last is first and poor is rich and weak is strong and low is high.  The path to spiritual greatness comes through humbling ourselves.  Thus, humility, or becoming less, is not just something to be embraced, but something to be pursued.
     
That’s why the word David uses in Psalm 131:1 that is most often translated “concern myself with” or “occupy myself with” is halak in the Hebrew, which literally means to walk.  Therefore, probably a better translation of what David is saying is that “I don’t walk after, or pursue, great things or things too wonderful for me.” Which sounds like a small thing, but is really anything but that.  In fact, it is a subtle, yet monumental shift.  No longer is becoming less merely something I have to embrace, as the circumstances of life do their work on me, but it is actually something I am called to actively pursue, just like Jesus did.
     
Thus, the height of the spiritual journey is not about discovering who we are (although that’s important), or even becoming who we are (which is significant as well), but about making ourselves nothing for Jesus.  Life with Jesus, like John the Baptist told us, is about becoming less that he might become all.

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