“It sounds like God has really squeezed your heart,” my friend remarked; “but it is amazing how He used it to bring you closer to Him.”
I nodded in agreement, but found “squeezed my heart” an inadequate description. “Completely stripped,” I thought.
Stripped of everything I found fulfillment in. Stripped of comfort, happiness, and stability. Stripped of the identity I built for myself. Stripped of my idols (all those things I let define my life instead of God).
But in this state of emptiness, with nothing left to cling to, God took me by the hand and said, “try it my way now.”
Humility: The First Characteristic of a Kingdom Citizen
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” Matthew 5:3 (MSG)
After being emptied, I meditated on this verse, repeating “Less of me, more of God. Less of me, more of God,” in my head until I realized, being at the end of your rope is only the means to the end. God desires humility.
Matthew Henry describes humility as releasing all confidence in our righteousness and strength and depending wholly on Christ. It requires letting go of our own self-importance and exalting God as sovereign over all.
The Woman’s Study Bible defines humility as “a yielding of the heart.” We yield what is important to us for what is important to God. We yield self-righteousness for God’s righteousness.
More of God, less of me.
The Necessity of Being Emptied
We can choose to humble ourselves before God without coming to the end of our rope, but too often our pride stands in the way. In order to save us, God humbles us himself.
“But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 (NLT)
We see an example of this in Daniel 4. After being shown the greatness and sovereignty of God, King Nebuchadnezzar is warned to turn from his wicked ways. Ignoring the warning, he begins boasting in himself and his accomplishments. As the words leave his mouth, God humbles the King by making him believe he is an animal of the field. After 7 years, God restores his sanity, and King Nebuchadnezzar praises God as the One who is really in control.
We admit our weaknesses in the broken places of life. We realize our desperate need of God when we have nothing else left. God draws close to the poor in spiritㅡto the broken, crushed, and emptied person.
“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: ‘I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” Isaiah 57:15 (NLT)
We are brought low in order to be brought into the high and holy place of God.
Humility is our foundation―our starting place as a kingdom citizen; all the other Beatitudes come from humbling ourselves before God.