Psalm 95.6-8
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts…”

Reflection: Faith Requires Humility
By John Tillman

One reason faith is so difficult for today’s culture is that we devalue humility. And faith cannot exist without humility.

Humility doesn’t make it on the airwaves. Braggarts shout down the humble in a war of saucy soundbites. Humble men get called weak. Humble women get called doormats. And God help you if you express the slightest hint of doubt, equivocation, or willingness to compromise.

Our world worships the strong. When the strong trample the weak, the world applauds the victor. Our culture embraces the evolutionary principle that the strong deserve to survive and the weak suffer due to their flaws.

Our culture demands that we be experts. The economy demands that we project our worth and defend our value. The business world invests in companies based on confidence. In fact, simple confidence is often not strong enough. The quality the world has elevated to prominence is bravado.

It is difficult not to be flavored by the stew of our culture in which we soak, and too often Christians join in this worship of strength. In fear and uncertainty, we often grasp at earthly solutions that are a splintering staff that injures our hand as it crumbles and we fall. This image is a repeated theme in the Old Testament, referring specifically to Israel longing for Egypt to be their political savior, restoring them to greatness.

Too often we mistake bravado for faith—it is anything but.

Humility is a precursor of faith because faith is confidence outside of ourselves. Faith is having confidence in what we cannot see, in part because we humbly acknowledge that what we can see (our own capability) is insufficient. Humility recognizes our lack so we can trust beyond the knowable.

Bravado is either bluster in the face of our insufficiencies or ignorance of them. Sooner or later, it will fail spectacularly, leaving those who trusted in it injured.

If we would spot the wolves among the sheep, we would do well to watch carefully for the brusque tones of bravado and bluster. It is an early sign of a heart hardened to the voice of God.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The same stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. — Psalm 118.22

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Ezekiel 43 (Listen – 5:15)
Psalm 95-96 (Listen – 2:37)

Additional Reading
Read More about Crucified, By Nature
Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. — Martin Luther

Read More about Idolatry of Self-Confidence
Only when our confidence in ourselves as god is shaken do we actually reach out to discover that there is a true God in whom we can safely place all our confidence and hope.

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