It was an important day, probably the most important day of the year. It was the Day of Atonement, the day when the Israelite nation and each of its people approached God to demonstrate repentance of their sins, to make amends with God for breaking fellowship with Him, and to have their relationship with God restored.
And on this crucial day there was a crucial step that each Israelite had to take. They were told by God, “On that day you must humble yourselves, gather for a sacred assembly, and present offerings to the Lord by fire” (Lev. 23:27).
Humbleness was the requirement to approach God, and this attitude was not taken lightly by God. God added, “Anyone who does not spend that day in humility will be cut off from the community” (Lev. 23:29).
Serious business, this humility thing. But why? Why was humility so vital to approaching God for the Israelites? And why, even after Jesus’ sacrifice, is it still so essential for us today as we approach God?
There are many reasons. Most importantly, humility allows us to understand our position before a holy and mighty God. It provides us with the proper awe and respect for God. It gives us the proper perspective.
Humility allows us to be submissive to God’s will for us. It allows us to hear God rather than hear ourselves. Humility allows us to be teachable. In humility, we accept instruction, or even rebuke, from God and others and recognize that we don’t always know better.
Humility allows us to recognize our sin and our need for God’s forgiveness. It keeps our focus on what we need to change, not on what changes others need to make. Humility allows us to seek both God’s forgiveness and others’ forgiveness when needed and to be thankful when we receive forgiveness.
Unlike the Israelites, because of Jesus we have the privilege of approaching God at any time and in any place. But what hasn’t changed is the need for humility as we approach God. The problem is that humility doesn’t tend to come naturally to most of us.
Where are we on the humility scale? Are we ready to defer to God, to listen, to be taught, and to seek forgiveness when needed? Humility must be purposely practiced. God has great things for His children, but it all starts with a humble attitude.
© 2010 Arlina Yates