Humility and Limitations

At church last Sunday, the pastor preached about humility.  He has been going through the Book of James, and his text last Sunday was James 4:13-15.  In that passage, James criticizes people who have grandiose plans about what they are going to do tomorrow.  James points out that they do not know what will happen tomorrow, plus their life is a vapor.  They should say that, if the Lord wills, they will do those things tomorrow.

The pastor was telling us the customary points about how we can die at any time, so we should not take our lives for granted.  He exhorted us to consider how we are using the time that we have.

The pastor also told the story of a professional football player he knows.  The football player was moving to another location to play for another team.  The pastor asked him whether he was loyal to his current team, and the football player replied that it’s about money.  The football player said that he only had a limited time to play this sport, since he will not be young and fit forever.  During that time, he needs to make as much money as he can to provide for his family.  Plus, money has to be set aside for his family in case he is injured and cannot play the sport anymore.

That story about the football player calls to my mind how humbling life is.  That football player was probably confident—-the sort of person who exudes confidence in a room, and who has confidence in his abilities.  One has to be confident to do a lot of things.  Yet, reality makes him humble.  He knows that, due to human limitations, there will come a time when he will be unable to play this sport.  I would add that athletes are also humble when they train: they discipline themselves and they practice, for they realize that they need to prepare to play the game.  They cannot simply rest on their laurels and expect for their natural talent to carry them through.

I am far from being an athlete, yet I, too, am humbled by life, a lot of times.  Unfortunately, I can also get a pompous attitude, thinking that I’m morally better than certain people in certain areas.  That’s one, but not the only, reason that I need to go to God in prayer: to draw closer to God amidst my imperfections.

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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