Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 5:6
It is said that years ago a farmer sat down with his family for the Thanksgiving meal and offered the following prayer: “Lord, last fall my boys and I plowed the fields. In winter we bucked the cold and snow drifts to take care of our livestock. In spring, we sowed the seed and watched for drought and hail in the summer. Now we have bent our backs and tired our muscles to bring in the fall harvest. But it is Thanksgiving Day, so we must thank you for what we have done.”
Had we been there, we may have offered that man a large slice of humble pie.
He already had enough conceit and arrogance. He was stuffed full of self-importance and vanity. What he lacked was humility.
The story might seem humorous until we begin wondering if we ever have felt the same way.
We find ourselves now walking on the bridge between Thanksgiving and Advent. Without humility, neither have meaning.
Without humility, it is hard to offer thanks because we feel we do not owe it—neither to our fellowman nor to our Creator. Indeed, we might even feel cheated out of the credit we deserve. Like that farmer, we might mouth the words because they are expected of us. But the giving of thanks does not flow from our hearts.
We might even be thinking, “Thanks for nothing!”
The apostle Peter once had a problem with too much self-confidence. We recall how he boasted of his courage. He said he was ready to die for Jesus. We remember how he was humbled. A simple slave girl knocked him off of his smug throne.
Peter had taken a big bite of humble pie. He had left the trial of Jesus with bitter tears running down his face. But he learned his lesson. Now he will teach others: “Humble yourself…”
He had learned that not only was his Lord to be thanked for blessings given in the past, but also for the privilege of serving in the future.
When he tells us: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” He is speaking from personal experience.
At Thanksgiving we look at what God has done for us. In Advent, we look at what he will do for us.
Advent has us recall the promises and blessings given to us by the Messiah who was to come. It shows us that our God is trustworthy and true. It offers help in his name.
Without humility, we see little need for help. We are convinced that we can take care of ourselves. Without humility, we think can face the future without failing. We agree with the words of the poet who said, “My head is bloody but unbowed,” then continued, “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.”
Forgiveness? “No thank you. I don’t need it.”
Let those words never cross our lips. Let that thought never enter our head.
Our Lord comes to us with open hands of blessing. He points us toward open gates of glory.
We need him. We must thank him. We must serve him.
After all, he humbled himself that we might be lifted up on high.
We gladly eat the humble pie.
Prayer: God of our fathers, our ready help in time of need, our only source of strength and hope. Accept our humble thanks. To you be all the glory, now and forever more. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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