Lent 5 – Humility and Ego

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73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
76 Let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the arrogant be put to shame,
because they have subverted me with guile;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
so that they may know your decrees.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
so that I may not be put to shame.

~Psalm 119:73-80 (NRSV)

Humility is a tough lesson to learn. I grew up being told I could do anything so long as I put my mind to it. I was pushed and prodded to do well in school. I was told I was smart (and, subsequently, that I could always do better). This Psalm speaks to me directly, not only as a pastor but as a Christian, a follower of the Way of Jesus. In the presence of God I am being called to humble my arrogance (my trust in my own “smartness” and my own means), and lean further into God’s wisdom and grace. I feel like I am the one to whom people might look to learn God’s decrees (wisdom) and at the same time one of the all-too-often arrogant that needs to be knocked down a notch.

I plead with God to not put me to shame but at the same time to humble me. I pray that I might be a good messenger at the same time I wrestle with my own ways of doing things. Even in asking for humility while at the same time wishing to be the one to whom the people turn, the psalmist is admitting his own struggle with ego. Though the author acknowledges that it is ultimately the love of God that will cure an arrogant mind and heart. And so I pray.

God of humility and grace,
Guide my heart and my mind to help me walk by your Word, your Truth, your Grace. Guide me on the path that you have set me on, and humble my arrogance when I get ahead of myself, believing I know better than you. How can I possibly know better than you? In these days, Lord, strengthen my trust in you and all that you seek for me and for all of humanity. May my joy be found where only true joy can: in you. By your grace and mercy…may it be so.

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