lesson in humility
I know you’ve tried your best, but your best isn’t good enough.” If someone said those discouraging words to you, your thoughts might be something like, Whoa! Come on, I’ve been doing my best. Surely, that’s worth something!
Well, yes and no. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Isaiah 64:6 reads: “We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags” (The Message). Besides, objectively speaking, it’s possible that our best might not meet the mark, due to a lack of experience, knowledge, or skill.
So while it is only right that we do our very best, it is never right when we take pride in our best efforts. Pride is a Christian’s greatest enemy. It inclines us to depend on our own understanding and not to seek God’s will in all that we do. As Christians, we are always to be learning to say, “I can’t live up to this demand, I can’t do this thing that is asked of me; but He can, therefore I can.”
Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was a marvelous example. He wrote: “It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than me; for in the easiest positions He must give me grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient. So, if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?”
God knows how easily I can be “impressed with [my] own wisdom” (Proverbs 3:7) and desire that my best efforts be noticed and rewarded. As my loving Father, He corrects me (vv.11-12). So, when you receive a disparaging remark for your best effort, stop and consider: Is my loving Father teaching me a lesson in humility? —Poh Fang Chia
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take (vv.5-6).
In Numbers 12, Miriam demanded that her good efforts be recognized. What was the result of her demands?
Should God or you be praised when others see your best efforts? Why is it important for us to be humble before God and others?