Andy Hollifield 5-8-17

James 4:6-10 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

1 Peter 5:5-6 (5) “…for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Humble————(1) not proud or arrogant; modest (2) having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc. (3) low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc., lowly (4) courteously respectful

For humbleness to be such an essential characteristic of a Christian, it is amazing to me that the word “humble” is only used 25 times throughout scripture. I don’t know if you would actually call being humble a characteristic as much as you would an attitude. The very first time it is mentioned in scripture is in Exodus 10:3 when God asked the children of Israel,”How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?” The last time it is used is the scripture in 1 Peter 5:6 where God tells us to humble ourselves and in due time he will exalt us. It is also apparent that the gift of grace being given and a person being lifted up by God is often associated with being humble. In multiple scriptures, being humble is contrasted to being proud. Colossians 3:12 says “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” This is the only time the word humbleness is used and if you will notice, once again it is tied to grace. There are five things listed in this verse alone that Christians are supposed to “put on”. That in itself tells me that all the attributes of the Christian life aren’t automatic but require effort on our part. If it was automatic, all Christians would be Godly by nature but we know that is not the case. We still live in this flesh that was conceived in sin ever since the fall of Adam in the garden. Being Christ-like takes work. As stated in James 4:7, it takes resisting the devil just for starters. Then we are supposed to work on all these other things. Paul even said to the Philippians in chapter 2 verse 12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Why do we have to do this? Because we are the “elect of God, holy and beloved”.

There are many examples in the bible of folks that were anything but humble whose arrogant pride cost them dearly. One of the most misquoted verses I believe in all the bible is probably Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” It does not say “pride goeth before a fall” like we often hear it misquoted. I personally believe that “haughty” is what the old timers used to call “gettin’ too big for your britches”. It is a step below pride or destruction would come with a haughty spirit. Haughty is used 10 times in the bible, all in the Old Testament, and is defined as disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant. Pride is “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” Pride is used 49 times in the bible and according to Proverbs 11:2 and 13:10, pride brings shame and contention respectively.

I didn’t pick this topic to give a bible lesson on. The Lord laid it on my heart to give as an object lesson. As with any object lesson, you must have an object. I am ashamed to say; I am that object. While in a discussion about a particular blessing from the Lord in my life, I realized something that it took me over 33 and a half years to notice. Back in the summer of 1983 as a brash and cocky 18-year-old kid, I was on dialysis prior to my kidney transplant. I remember asking the nurses “what is the fastest anyone has come home from a transplant?” They said 2 weeks was about the fastest they knew of. Me being a cocky little guy, I informed them that I would be home in 12 days. Let me interject right here to say that God has a way of humbling you. If you refuse to do it yourself, he can accommodate you.

Fast forward to October 28th, 1983. At about 11:05 AM I believe it was, I walked out of the Bowman Gray School Of Medicine at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC a free man. I had went in on October 4th. If you do the math real quick, you will see that is 24 days. Exactly twice as long as I had promised the nurses in the dialysis unit it would take. It had never dawned on me until recently that it took exactly twice as long as I had predicted. Like I said; if you get too proud and arrogant, God can and will humble you. In those 24 days, I had been through pneumonia, a rejection episode, been poked with more needles than a pin cushion, been chewed out by my dad after my kidney rejected (which was the best thing he could have done), and experienced the touch of God and that kidney restarting, and had a twelve-year-old with a milkshake cut me down to size. Little did I realize at the time just how much of God’s grace I had experienced.

I didn’t write this to bring anyone down or to get sympathy in any way, but to make myself the object about the cost of pride. Not only that, but I also want to point out another thing I realized about that whole ordeal when talking to my mom. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was my doctor’s first patient he had referred for transplant. As mom and I discussed all of this recently, I thought about the record that I had failed miserably to break. The 12 day record for returning home that I had intended to set. I realized that although I hadn’t broken that record, God gave me something far better. A year or so back I had gotten curious about the longevity of my transplant. According to the info I found online, I am among the oldest transplants known in the world! There are not too many over 25 years old and even less over 30. I don’t say that in any way boastfully except for giving God the glory. Wherever I rank on that list, I am perfectly content to stay right in that spot. I do not want anyone to lose a kidney so I can gain another position. That is the difference between 18 and 52. Mainly it is the difference between an arrogant kid and a man who God has had to humble.

I was told by my doctors in Winston in 1983 that the most I could likely expect from a transplant was probably about 20 years. I was told that 33 years ago. I was told by my doctor when I was in my 25th year, that as good as I have done if I took reasonably good care of myself and stayed active, something else would likely take me out of here some day. I have been told by another doctor since then that he would be very surprised if I ever lost my kidney. I was hospitalized with a high fever the month after I came home. I slept it off in the hospital for about 4 or 5 days and have not been hospitalized for my kidney since then. God humbled me for my brash statements and put me in a position to depend on him and his grace and mercy.

As I look back over nearly 34 years since that surgery, I see a lot different man than what I was then. I have been battered by the storms of life over the years but I have also continued to ride his grace and mercy to safety each and every time. I have not always seen or appreciated what God was doing at the time, but looking back I can see a little more of what he was doing in me. I have always appreciated what he did for me but it has only been as I have gotten older and wiser that I have really appreciated what he has done in me. As I have sat here writing this, there have been some tears shed as I recounted the way that God has always intervened in various situations. From the 24 days he spent humbling a cocky kid to the molding he has done in the years since then. The effort and care and love he has invested in me trying to make me a vessel he can use.

Don’t force God to humble you, but if he does, rest assured that he is doing it because he loves you and his desire is not that you perish but that he be able to make you into a vessel fit for the master’s use. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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