One of my favorite personalities to study in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. We see the apostle Paul as a great theologian, church planter, writer, and apostle, but in his day, he was not thought very much about by the mainstream church. Paul had to defend his apostleship throughout his ministry and declare to people that he was an apostle and that God had called him to do work. Because of this, we see that Paul had a very humble spirit about him. He tells the church of Philippi (2:3-4) that they are not to think too much of themselves but to do what they do for others. Paul tells the church of Corinthian that he did not come to impress them with his anointing or knowledge, but he came to give Jesus and nothing more. He tells us in Romans 7 & 8 that he is not good in himself, and if it was not Jesus, then he would continue to walk in sin and death, and only because of Jesus was there anything good in him at all. He demonstrates to us how in ministry, we must remain humble.
In the day that we live in, it seems that people are drawn to extremes. On the one hand, you have people who come to church and are not interested in being spiritual or even holy. These people are satisfied with just living a “good enough” life. And though you would think the other extreme is where we all should run, and I would agree it is if we remain as Paul and stay humble in our pursuit of God, there is a danger that I see as a pastor. There is the danger of a haughty spirit. During the time of Isaiah, the nation was going through a time of peace and prosperity under the Godly leadership of Uzziah and his son. And so, you would think that everything was good. I mean, after all, most of the kings were evil, and this was one of the few that were doing the will of God. Yet in chapter 3, Isaiah shares Jehovah’s message: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty.” The word haughty means prideful in spirit and become overconfident in our ability. Now think about that for a minute. Here was the nation going through a time of prosperity and a time of spiritual renewal, and God was saying, but you have a haughty spirit. You think that you are more than you are. You think that you are the elite in God, and yet you are in danger.
Today we see that in the Pentecostal church. We have those that have developed a haughty spirit and seem to feel that they are the church’s elite. People in this state of spirit think that they are more spiritual than the rest and that God speaks through them in a special exclusive way. Anytime that God uses us or speaks through us, it is special, but it is not because of who we are, but it is because of Him. This is a dangerous place for us to be because, like the daughter of Zion, God will bring us down. When we live in this way, we enter a spiritual pride where we isolate ourselves as if God has a special club that only we belong to because, somehow, we are special to God. I am unsure if the Apostle Paul would fit into these groups any more than he did in the first-century church. I mean, he was not a successful full-time pastor. He did not have a mass following, he spent time in prison, and he had to work a secular job to make ends meet. In my study, I do not believe that Paul was a great charismatic preacher, not like Peter or Apollos, so the chances are that Paul would not make the Camp meeting circuit of preachers. Yet here is the man that wrote most of the New Testament, a man that raised the dead, started churches in the evilest cities, preached the gospels all over the known world, one of the most educated of the apostles, and gave his life for the kingdom. How did Paul do all this? He stayed humble and counted his life as worthless. Paul could never be accused of having a haughty spirit, but he lived with a humble spirit that always realized that his task was to share Jesus with everyone and make them better. He was a true servant of the Lord.
Looking back at Isaiah, we see that he gives all these things that Jehovah says, sharing the words of God as a prophet. Yet when he has a vision of heaven and sees God, Isaiah falls before him in fear. He is overwhelmed by Jehovah’s glory and declares, “I am a man of unclean lips.” All pride is gone in the presence of God, and any haughtiness, all self, and all selfish ambition is done away with. Because in God’s presence, we see just how far from Him we are, and we humble ourselves before Him. In this humble condition, we can be more effective for God and operate in the anointing that He has given us to build the kingdom of God. “It is not by strength, nor by might, but by thy Spirit.”