Here’s a thought I had in response to Isaiah 57 and an experience I had this week with someone regarding humility (or the lack of it).
Where does God live? This might be a question one of our children asks as they are trying to wrap their minds around their theology of God. It’s a good question, and the answer is not just “Heaven.” While God is everywhere, and that includes Heaven, Isaiah 57:15 reveals something about where God resides: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” What a contrast. God lives in a high and holy place but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit.
To be contrite is to show sorrow for sin while a lowly spirit reflects humility. In our day where sin is accepted as normal, it is easy to treat sin carelessly and flippantly. One problem we have is that we often times choose the wrong standard for comparison. If my standard is people around me, I can always find one more flawed and therefore my behavior moves into the “acceptable” category even if it is not acceptable before God. Another problem is that many people also accept our behavior and sometimes even applaud us in our arrogance or sin. We might even write books or become speakers at special events and the world marvels at our impressiveness, but the truth is we may be proud and blind to the reality of sin in our lives. The standard for righteousness must always be Jesus. When Jesus is our standard, then brokenness and contrition are commonplace in our lives.
A lowly spirit does not mean low self-esteem, but rather it means realizing that the good in me is all God. Anything I can do that is impressive or brings accolades from others is all God. If I accomplish something noteworthy, it has nothing to do with me or my abilities, but rather it has everything to do with God and His gifts. Humility is in rare supply, but when it is seen, it is refreshing to us, and it honors the Lord.