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The Disciple’s Shift

 As we read the Scriptures we see a radical shift in the Disciples. At the Last Supper we find them arguing to find out who would be the greatest (Luke 22:24–27). Then later, in Acts 3, they show a new-found humility. Peter and John heal a lame man at Gate Beautiful and when they have the opportunity to publically gloat in their own greatness, they point to Jesus. In a relatively short time they move from fighting over who is the greatest to rejecting pride and humbly realizing Jesus’ power and name.

We can see the same shift in the Apostle Paul. Here’s a man who had it all—well-educated, fantastic lineage, powerful friends and a self-proclaimed, “Hebrew of the Hebrews.” Yet, after His life-saving encounter with Jesus, he’s a changed man. So changed that he wrote to the Romans, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each measure of faith. (Romans 12:3).”

What a transformation of mind and heart! It began with humility. After he experienced Jesus Paul understood that his own arrogance violated relationships by taking away honor from others so he could puff up his own self.  He realized that attitude wasn’t something that honored all that Jesus died to give us.

So, what happened to these men? How did they shift so radically from seeking their own greatness and pride to spirits of humility?

  • They recognized their own weakness and failures. They were men who were far from perfect, but they learned. They failed and were forgiven; they misunderstood and then sought understanding; they gave into weakness and fear, but returned to the One who called them. Failure is not failure when we learn from it, grow from it and change as a result.
  • They saw Jesus’ example of humility on the cross. His humility is an obedient and compassionate love. The disciples saw the greatest display of humility known to man and it changed them, forever!
  • They experienced the power of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon these men with power to be a witness for Jesus, to speak boldly and to serve the people around them.

Let’s ask God for this same shift in our lives. Pride and arrogance won’t get us too far in the Kingdom of God. Hoping for greatness as defined by the world won’t do much for us in eternity. Humility is the answer and the key to get into the Kingdom and live through the Kingdom.

Timothy Keller wrote about humility, “God says, ‘For you, the route to gaining influence is not taking power. Influence gained through power and control doesn’t really change society; it doesn’t change hearts. I’m calling you to a totally different approach. Be so sacrificially loving that the people around you, who don’t believe what you believe, will soon be unable to imagine the place without you. They’ll trust you because they see that you’re not only out for yourself, but for them, too.’”[1]

Want to have an impact on other people? It takes humility.

[1] Timothy Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, (New York, Dutton, 2011), E-book edition

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