The Right Reasons

Hello Church!

Today, I invite us to continue our look at James chapter 1 with a verse about humility.

James 1:21 CEB “Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.”

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

We all know that we need to change and we have a desire to become better each day. What is our motivation for wanting to change? Are we trying to impress someone? Are we trying to improve our career? Are we trying to show others we’re better than they are?

Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee and tax collector during their personal prayer time in Luke 18:9-14 (CEB)

Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

We can look at this parable and know the pharisee was not showing humility and he was trying to show how much better he was than the tax collector. Jesus showed grace and compassion in his telling of the tax collector. The tax collector was humbly asking for forgiveness and grace, not even able to raise his eyes to look for God. He was not looking to justify himself but to ask God to show mercy. I view this as the tax collector trying to have his life changed by coming to grace and not seeking grace because of his actions and his life.

What is our motivation to change? I ask God daily to be the husband and father He would have me be so that my beautiful wife and kids will have everything they need; not just materially, but emotionally, spiritually, mentally, relationally. I pray I do not ask this so I can look good for other people; but that I am allowing the grace of God to flow through me and help me transform into His creation. Tears almost come to my eyes when I think about the ways I could have possibly fallen short throughout the day with them and with Christ; but we have been given new chances to seek Christ daily.

So we change, not because we want to appear better; but so that we can change for the better with the grace of God.There are many things we can change about ourselves; but if we’re not working to change with the right motivation, we are not humble enough.

People say they’ll go to rehab to help with their alcoholism, or drug addiction, or any other addiction they may have. There are many times, people go to rehab simply to appease the person who requests it. This is not how we are transformed because this is not done with humility.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

We are transformed through the grace of God and with His guidance. So, because of the grace of God, we can have removed from us the things that steer us away from Christ. The word of God is implanted on our hearts and helps keep our focus on Him. Our focus on the word reminds us who we are and that God is with us each day. We do not have to change to please people; we change by going to the Creator and allowing Him to work in us and through us to become the people He created.

God is not interested in you or I changing to try to please Him; I believe He is more interested in our relationship with Him. It is through our relationship with God through Jesus Christ that we can begin to change. The Holy Spirit in us, empowers us to be transformed into the new creations God makes.

If we allow it, the words of God can be planted, watered and nurtured in us so that we can be saved. Not necessarily saved for a future time period; but “saved” from ourselves and the chance to see and experience the Kingdom of God right here right now.

Lord, I need you today. Have mercy on me. I seek you. Guide me and change me to the new creation. My desire to to work with you. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Published by Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

One thought on “The Right Reasons

  1. I am a work in progress (seriously!) where humility is concerned — but one thing I KNOW for sure — I can’t ” do” this life without Him!! I manage to make a mess of things on a regular basis so I really need those quiet spaces with Him. There He washes me clean again and gives me stength in exchange for my weakness. He draws me (Come to
    Me all who are weary…..) and I simply come. Come to Him and receive unconditional acceptance , mercy, forgiveness, and grace! So, Praise be to God (!) there’s always, always HOPE for this WIP (work in progress!).


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