I wanted to keep my reflections on humility from the passage in 1 Peter to a two parter. By unpacking it I hope that it has built people up toward being humble before God and their neighbor.
Unfortunately, I have been doing my own self-reflection about humility. While I see my long-term study of Simon Peter a study in the ongoing formation of an early believer as well as on the papacy, I know that I am being formed towards maturity myself. As Jesus forms the person, they can keep certain personality tendencies but their allegiance needs to be consistent with the thought and intent of this carpenter of the Middle East both in His humility and by the power of Him being so much more than the titles we want to give ourselves.
This includes my humility (or lack thereof). Over a week ago I went to Walmart to pick up the Rich Mullins movie (excellent movie by the way). I had our three-month old with my as we got out of the car and were approached by what seemed to be a father and a son of pre-teen years. The father held a gas can and said that he and his son were out of gas and just need some gas money. My instincts were that this was a shameless scam and he was using a kids for the con so I replied, “NO!”
My heart rate was still up with anger when I was approached by another guy. He was middle aged and only said the words ‘Excuse me.” when I asked him if he was asking for money. When he said yes, I let him have it.
“We live in the greatest country on earth and you are coming to me in a parking lot where I am shopping with my kid for money. I should be able to take my kids with me to the store without being approached by a panhandler! Do you have a job?”
“Uh, no.” he replied.
I then told him where to go. No, literally. I knew the address of a building in the community that includes job search services. I also knew there was a substance abuse program where he could get some help too. Of course, “obviously” he needs it.
As I walked off I heard him ask me if I was a Christian. I scoffed at the question as another part of his tool kit for the “pity trade”.
Not my best day as a social worker and my higher calling: being a Christian. Were both parties a part of the “pity trade”? I really should not say. What I can say is that they deserved the benefit of the doubt as well as my respect. Even more, I have professionally helped clients find jobs. What Jesus could do through me is show up in that parking lot with my laptop and an invitation to these same folks join me for coffee and some work search.
This passage comes to mind for my own reflection. And where it comes to humbling ones self in the context of charity, I hope it does for you too.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
Lord, light me up!