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Posts Tagged ‘turning water into wine’

Jo 17Is there some particular virtue or positive personality trait you truly admire and wish you could demonstrate more often? Perhaps you’ve noticed it in others and felt ashamed you had so little of it. It could be kindness. Or generosity. Or patience. Or loyalty. Or, as in my case … um … a good, healthy dose of humility!

I am in the right profession, I believe, to acquire more of this commodity. After all, it doesn’t take long as a writer to discover not everyone is going to like one’s books. This is quite understandable—especially given I myself am choosy about what books I read. Yet, being a published author can also add to one’s sense of consequence at times. I admit there is something nice about seeing my name on a book cover. And it is always gratifying to hear how readers have enjoyed or been moved by my books. This is fine, I guess—providing I don’t allow myself to become puffed up with pride and providing I remember God is the source of any gifts or abilities I might have.

At a recent training day, I noticed how some wise Christian leaders I have known for years conducted themselves with great humility. They did not seek any real acknowledgement. Instead, they seemed sincerely interested in everyone around them and spoke to them with gentleness and grace. Add this to several examples I have noticed lately in Scripture and—well, I get the message!

In Mark 5, I read how Jesus healed the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Heedless of his own reputation, Jesus cared enough about this ostracised woman to speak gracious, affirming words to her and heal her. He then raised up the synagogue ruler’s daughter, even after those present laughed at him when he maintained she was only asleep. As we read on, we see how Jesus, after sending the people away and allowing only the child’s parents and his disciples into the room, ‘gave strict orders not to let anyone know’ what had happened (5:43). Did those who laughed ever discover what actually unfolded or honour Jesus at all for this miracle?

Next, I read John 2, where Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. To me, this seemed to be done quietly and with minimum fuss, since only the servants knew where that wine had come from. Yes, we are told ‘his disciples put their faith in him’ as a result (2:11), but did that master of the banquet or the bridegroom ever discover who was responsible for such an amazing miracle, let alone believe in Jesus?

Then I read in Luke 17:11-19 how ten lepers received healing, after Jesus spoke to them and sent them to the priests. Yet only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank him and to praise God. Did those other nine ever acknowledge what Jesus had done for them? Yet Jesus’ only concern seems to be that they did not see the need to return and give praise to God (17:18) for their healing.

Yes, such humility is a huge challenge to me—but oh so appealing and important, don’t you think?

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

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I wonder if you’ve ever had some nice plan or scheme all worked out, only to have someone come along and mess the whole thing up! Perhaps this person might ask a simple question or give a suggestion for a better way forward. Yet you don’t want to hear. After all, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into this particular project. Or it might be that you finally think you’ve come to grips with some issue and know what you believe. Then someone comes up with a radically different idea that makes your whole concept—or perhaps even your whole world—seem a little wobbly. Maybe it could even cause it to come crashing down! So, however well intentioned this person might be, how dare he or she throw a spanner in the works like that!

If you have, then perhaps you might relate to those Jews in Jesus’ time who, according to John 8, had apparently believed in him to some extent. But then, Jesus started talking about things like knowing the truth and being set free. What was this all about? Weren’t they Abraham’s descendants? They didn’t need to be set from anything. They were fine, thank you very much. More than that, it was very dangerous teaching. Much better to get rid of him if he’s going to keep talking about such rubbish as pleasing his Father and being ‘from above’.

Yet perhaps we should give them some benefit of the doubt. Maybe they hadn’t heard about the amazing things Jesus had been doing, like changing water into wine, healing people, feeding more than five thousand with a few fish and rolls, not to mention walking on water. Whether they had or not, however, they decided there was no place for this crazy, insulting person in their world and that he was better right out of the picture.

But Jesus saw right through them. He knew they wanted to get rid of him—and he did not beat about the bush. In Jn 8:37 we read:

I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.

No room for his word? No room to hear what the Son of God was saying? What a sad, sad statement! These Jews seemed to be too full of pride in their heritage and too concerned about their own wellbeing to have any space in their hearts and lives to take Jesus’ words on board. They knew God in a special way—yet Jesus bluntly tells them that ‘the reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’ (Jn 8:47)

Yet … yet what about us today? In fact, what about me? How often in my busy life do I simply have no room for God’s word? Yes, I might get to read it somewhere along the line, but how often does it not really enter my heart? Or worse still, just like these Jews, how often do I decide I simply don’t like what God has said and choose not to make any space for those changes that need to happen in my life?

You have no room for my word.

I still think that’s one of the saddest statements in Scripture, don’t you?

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