Serving with Humility

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5

The renowned Scottish New Testament Greek scholar, William Barclay (1907-1978), related a little story about a missionary who arrived in the Congo years ago to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Two missionaries had preceded this particular one and had failed miserably. The former missionaries had been members of the Baganda tribe, for which menial work was reserved for women and slaves. When the native people refused to provide food for these two missionaries, they left because they were too proud to work.

Knowing about the failures of his predecessors, a man by the name of Apolo entered the area prepared to grow his own food. On his way to the village of his calling, he stopped to cut some hoe handles, so he would be able to work a patch of ground. When the ruler of the tribe saw Apolo entering their village carrying the hoe handles, he exclaimed, “Here is a man who is going to conquer.” Apolo won the hearts of these villages because he went prepared to serve—in his example, with his hands.* This servant of Christ had learned well the advice given once by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): “Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet, what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.”*

Our Lord is in the business of whittling us down until he can use us effectively. The famed London preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was used mightily by God because he walked humbly before him. This is evident by what he recorded one day. “Today I saw as I went home some old crocks and broken bricks and pieces of all sorts of earthenware put by the side of the road because the road is going to be widened, and I thought to myself, ‘If the Lord would only use me as an old broken crock to help to make a roadway for him to ride through London, so that he might be glorified, I would be glad to be thus honoured.’”**

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

*William Barclay, In the Hands of God (New York: Harper & Row     Publishers, 1966), 88-89.
**Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Expository Encyclopedia, Vol.   XIII (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1952), 286.

Reprinted from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
paperback and Kindle editions available at

Author: Ralph I. Tilley

I joyfully identify with the long history of the orthodox, evangelical stream of the Church. Theologically, I am a conservative. On issues of secondary importance, I will not quibble with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I would hope I have no doctrinal biases; however, I realize that is a practical impossibility: “Now I know in part.” You can read more on the About page.