“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of His power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:7-10
Whenever I find myself in conversations about the Bible with non-believers, what seems to inevitably come up is this thinking that the Bible is inconsistent with itself. As I’ve grown in my understanding of God’s Word and studied it more for myself, I have found this thinking to be completely inaccurate. Paul, the writer of most of our New Testament, was so consistent in his writings, and the more I study the book of Ephesians, the more amazed I am. The truth that he addresses in Ephesians 3:7-10 is repeated throughout his writings, and he was repeatedly found with genuine humility.
If anyone had an accurate perception of himself, it was Paul. Although he had every earthly reason to boast in his own resume (2 Corinthians 11:22-29), he constantly reminded himself and his readers that he was “the very least of all the saints.” At first glance, I see how it would be easy to assume this was a false humility in Paul. Who calls themselves the least and the worst so frequently, especially someone in church leadership? As I dug a bit deeper, though, all I could find is this:
An accurate understanding of who God is produces genuine humility within us.
Formerly, Paul was a persecutor of the church and all that followed after Christ. Now, he is being persecuted for his faith in Jesus. After having been dramatically converted on the road to Damascus, Paul became fearless in his ministry to the lost. Why? Because he fully understood the depth of grace that rescued him from a life of waywardness, he remained constantly aware of who God is and who he was not. Paul knew he was nothing without the power of Christ at work within him, which is the reason he so often stated his ranking in the Kingdom – not to discredit himself, but much rather to showcase the good God at work within Him.
This begs the question for us today, “How do we respond to praise?” Paul certainly received praise throughout his ministry to the church, but it’s what he did with that praise that made all the difference in the world. Instead of absorbing the praises of man, he deflected them to the only One who truly deserved them: Jesus Christ. This is not a false humility; it’s genuine. When we desire God to be honored and glorified more than seeking our own recognition, we finally find ourselves in a right place, the best place – genuine humility. Are you often found here? Bowed low, understanding who God is and who you’re not, and desiring nothing more than bringing Him praise. Because, an accurate understanding of who God is produces genuine humility in us.