That's my boy!
That's my boy!
The life of God which in the incarnation entered human nature is the root in which we are to stand and grow; it is the same almighty power that worked there, and thence onward to the resurrection, which works daily in us. Our one need is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the lift that now is ours, and waits for our consent to gain possession and mastery of our whole being.
In this view it is of inconceivable importance that we should have right thoughts of what Christ is--of what really constitutes Him the Christ--and specifically of what may be counted His chief characteristic, the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer. There can be but one answer: it is His humility. What is the incarnation but His heavenly humility, His emptying Himself and becoming man? What is His life on earth but humility, His taking the form of a servant? And what is His atonement but humility? "He humbled himself and became obedient unto death." And what is His ascension and His glory but humility exalted to the throne and crown with glory? "He humbled Himself, therefore God highly exalted Him." In heaven where He was with the Father, in His birth, in His life, in His death, in His sitting on the throne, it is all--it is nothing but humility. Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature: the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us. As the love and condescension of God makes Him the benefactor and helper and servant of all, so Jesus of necessity was the Incarnate Humility. And so He is still in the midst of the throne, the meek and lowly Lamb of God.
If this be the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch and leaf and fruit. If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus--if humility be the secret of His atonement--then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first also, and making humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, the on thing for which we sacrifice all else.
And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil! It was when the now-fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness. Even so it was, when the Serpent breathed the poison of his pride--the desire to be as God--into the hearts of our first parents, they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness into which man is sunk. In heaven and earth, pride--self-exaltation--is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of hell.
Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption but the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In heaven He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death"; His humility gave His death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit--His own humility--as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.
And so the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must needs bear this stamp of deliverance from sin and full restoration to their original state--their whole relation to God and man marked by an all-pervading humility. Without this there can be no true abiding in God's presence, or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit; without this, no abiding faith, or love or joy or strength. Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others as it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God and allows Him as God to do all.
To be above reproach, an elder must be 'the husband of one wife.' This does not prohibit bachelors from serving as elders. Commonly, elders will be married, and God will use the demands of their callings as husbands and fathers to do much of the sanctifyinig work that needs to be done in their lives before they are ready to serve as officers in the church. But remember that Paul himself was single and commended singleness to others as an opportunity for greater service in the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 7:17; 9:5). Some suggest that the phrase means 'married only once.' This would disqualify widowers who remarry, as well as men who have been through a divorce. If this is what Paul meant, however, one might expect him to be more explicit.
The point of the phrase is probably more general: elders must be morally accountable for their sexuality. The Greeks and the Romans of the day generally tolerated gross sexual sin. Polygamy was practiced by both Greeks and Jews. Marriage was undermined by frequent divorce, widespread adultery, and rampant homosexuality. The words of Demosthenes show the scope of the problem: 'Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of our persons, but wives to bear us legitimate children'.