The fundamental law of a Godly life
Skjulte Skatter, published in February 1932
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“But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” Psalm 75:7. “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy … Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.” Romans 9:16, 18. “And whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10. “Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep Your word … It is good for me that I have been humbled, that I may learn Your statutes … I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have humbled me.” Psalm 119:67, 71, 75.
God neither abases nor lifts up, hardens nor blesses, lets it fail nor succeed, at random. He always, in all cases and with everyone, proceeds according to certain laws.
The main law is the law of humility. What actually is humility? It is not a whimpering tone of voice or some nice phrases. It is self-acknowledgment and taking my rightful place in accordance with it. For example: A young person is humble when he submits to his elders. He acknowledges his youth and submits to his elder.
In the above-mentioned scriptures, two main degrees of humility are mentioned: 1) humbling yourself, and 2) being willing to be humbled. Humility coincides with a love of the truth. The truth is that you consistently, in all areas, are too high up. You admit this by loving the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), humbling yourself, and abasing yourself in harmony with the light of the truth that shines from the Scriptures, testimonies, or some other means.
First-rate humility is that you judge yourself of your own free will (1 Corinthians 11:31-32) and abase yourself of your own accord. Second-rate humility is that you acknowledge when you are being humbled by God, when you are personally judged by another person or through life’s occurrences of one kind or another. In other words, in such a case you need extra help to be humble. Without it, you would not be able to acknowledge your folly. When the light shines in the assembly without it being addressed to anyone in particular, you do not discover that it points at anything in your own life. Your personal attention of one kind or another needs to be drawn to it before you discover it.
In the best case, a person a back seat because he realizes that it is his proper place. In the second case, he takes a seat more toward the front, but when the host explains to the person that his place is more toward the back, he is ashamed and sits farther back.
If he hesitates, we can say that this is third-rate humility. If he does not acknowledge it and is unwilling to be abased at all, it is arrogance and pride, and he does not receive any grace at all; he does not receive help for salvation.
All of this pertains to real situations; it pertains to facts. Besides this, we have one more kind of humility: namely, false humility, hypocritical humility. This consists of words, tone of voice, and facial expressions that have a semblance of humility, but when it becomes a question of power, of reality, it becomes apparent that it is only a performance.
Humbling myself means that I occupy my proper place of my own free will. Being humbled is consenting to be put in my proper place by others. Being proud is defending and wanting to keep the place to which I am clearly not entitled.