Walking Humbly With God
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Question 104 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What are the duties required in the First Commandment?” It gives the answer, “The duties required in the First Commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honouring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended; and walking humbly with him.” Last week we considered our duty to be sorrowful when we have offended God. This week we examine what it means to walk humbly before Him.
Humility, like patience, is one of those virtues for which we would like to be known while not having to often express. Putting on humility is difficult. As sinners it is hard for us to put on any virtue, for in order to act virtuous in any way, we must first put the corresponding sinful vice to death. Yet perhaps no virtue goes so contrary to sin—which is primarily characterized by pride—as humility. Throughout Scripture several different words are used to convey this godly attribute, such as lowly, gentle, humility, humble, and meekness. Biblical meekness does not mean weakness, nor does it refer to a craven timidity fueled by a cowardly desire for self-preservation. Likewise, it does not mean falsely denying or downplaying your abilities or accomplishments as if you had not achieved them. To be humble or meek in a godly way is to be so bold for the cause of God that you are willing to tolerate great offences to your own honor and dignity if only it will bring glory to Jesus Christ.
Accordingly, we see this description of Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth,” (Num. 12:3). Have you ever wondered about this verse? I’m sure when most people think of Moses they do not think of meekness. Moses was the man who boldly went before Pharaoh to demand “Let my people go!” (Exo. 5:1). Moses went up on the mountain that quaked violently and was covered in smoke with lightning and fire, when all the rest of the people were afraid to look or even to hear the voice of God from a distance (Exo. 19:16-20). And when Moses came down and saw the sin they had committed he angrily smashed the stone tablets upon which God Himself had written the Ten Commandments (Exo. 32:19). Moses was anything but cowardly, timid, or weak! Yet here we have Scripture itself declare that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth. The Bible is showing us what true humility is: while Moses was bold and fearless for God, we do not see him seeking for any honor, status, or reward for himself. Moses was a man of biblical meekness.
Likewise, the Bible indicates that Jesus was a man of meekness: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!” (2 Cor. 10:1). Here Paul refers not only to his own meekness, but to that of Christ’s. In two different places of Scripture, Jesus declares His own meekness (Matt. 11:28-30; 21:5). If we had difficulty comprehending Moses’ meekness, how can we understand Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, being meek? Jesus was supremely meek in that, like Moses, while God had exalted Him to a unique position over the people, He did not seek His own honor and glory, but the honor and glory of the One who sent Him. Moses’ humility was great when we consider what a powerful prophet God had made him and how he did not use that position to exalt himself. Yet, when compared to Jesus, Moses’ exaltation and subsequent humility pales. Jesus, in His incarnation, was not just a powerful prophet, but the sinless Son of God, yet still He sought to do not His own will, but the will of His Father who sent Him (John 5:30). He made Himself not only low, but the lowest imaginable. He became a sin offering for sinners who deserved only His eternal disdain, rejection, and wrath. If Jesus could so humble Himself for you, considering what He deserved, can you not find it in your heart to humble yourself for Him, considering what you truly deserve? Take some time today to consider your sinfulness and how Christ so humbled Himself to deliver you from it, so that you may be moved to humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, allowing Him to lift you up (Jam. 4:10).