A little humility goes a long way with God, others

Published 3:35 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

Humility is the heart of a life well lived: It’s often not what you say, but how you say it.

Take Walter Geoffrey. Walter became an internet sensation when his mom began placing videos of Walter online. Many could relate to his antics.

Last week’s video went viral with more than 16 million views. It’s funny.

Walter is a French bulldog. On the fateful day of that video, Walter’s mom passes up the dog park, and Walter throws a fit. He won’t stop barking, even as she tries to explain that the park is closed. Ultimately, mom suggests Walter examine his attitude.

If you haven’t laughed today, Google “Walter Geoffrey.” You won’t be disappointed.

Often it’s the party with the most power who tends to be the least diplomatic—I’ll let you figure out who’s who in Walter’s world.

In the Bible, a captain felt certain he had the upper hand when the king dispatched him to bring in an old man. Not so fast. Here’s the story:

It seems Ahaziah, King of Israel, has had a bad tumble and fears for his life. He sends messengers to ask the god of Ekron, Baal-zebub, if he will recover. However, the messengers are turned back by an old prophet.

“Is it because there’s no God in Israel,” the prophet says, “that you’re going to inquire of Baal-zebub?”

He says to tell the faithless king that he’s going to die.

The messengers quickly return.

“What kind of man?” King Ahaziah asks.

They describe the prophet.

“It’s Elijah,” he says, no doubt remembering how the prophet caused his father grief.

So Ahaziah sends a captain with 50 men to get Elijah, and the prophet is found sitting on a hill. The captain orders him to come down, and I guarantee the captain used a tone that meant business.

Instead, Elijah summons fire from heaven which consumes the captain and his men.

The king isn’t fazed. He immediately dispatches another captain with 50 men. I don’t know what this second guy was thinking, but he’s even more insistent with Elijah.

Same thing happens—the captain and his men are destroyed by fire from heaven.

Ahaziah dispatches a third captain with 50 men. But this commander takes a different tactic: He approaches Elijah and falls to his knees.

“Please let my life and the lives of these 50 servants of yours be precious in your sight.”

An angel immediately tells Elijah, “Go…do not to be afraid.”

So Elijah appears before the king saying, “Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub…you shall surely die.” And Ahaziah dies. 2Kings 1:2-17

Did it have to go that way?

Ahaziah wasn’t nearly as evil as his father, King Ahab. “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab…” 1Kings 21:25

In fact, years earlier, Elijah had gone to Ahab with a similar prophecy. “Because you’ve sold yourself to do what’s evil…I will utterly burn you up…”

King Ahab takes this news hard, tears his clothes, fasts, and lies dejected in sackcloth.

God turns to Elijah, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because [of this] I will not bring disaster…” 1Kings 21:17-29

Clearly, Ahab’s son knew to repent and turn to God, but he died in his pride.

If you followed the Kavanaugh hearings, you’ll remember Joe Manchin—the lone Democrat who voted for confirmation. But I mention him here for another reason. I know Joe.

Before he became a U.S. senator, Joe served as governor and secretary of state, yet he’s a humble man. I remember stopping him in the hall of the Capitol about a problem. He was going in the opposite direction, but turned, walked the length of the hall, took me to the right person, and asked him to help me. Maya Angelou said: “…people will forget what you said…[and] what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“Rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,” Jesus said, “…but whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:42-43

You can bark your way through life like Walter Geoffrey or speak as though you’re with Jesus. Humility is at the heart of a life well lived for God.


© 2018 R.A. Mathews The Rev. R. A. Mathews is a freelance faith columnist, attorney, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Follow her on Twitter @Reaching to God.