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Count your many blessings see what God hath done

As US citizens we are blessed beyond measure. Basic needs and religious freedom are available for all. In addition our standard of living affords us many pleasures. We have plenty of food and rarely do we experience true hunger. Most of us live in homes newer and grander than needed to support our basic requirements. We enjoy easily accessible health care. Transportation is always available and most own a reliable vehicle (and some a recreational vehicle as well). Public services are provided guaranteeing safety and security. There is such surplus of time and money that most can afford entertainment, travel, and other trinkets. Compare this to our brethren in Africa and South America. We truly are blessed!

We cannot allow these material blessings to become a source of pride. It is enticing to think that we have earned all of this by our own efforts. Can we alter our country of birth? Our opportunities? Health status? Talents? Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. We must maintain our humility in all walks of life whether rich or poor in material blessings as all good things come from God and not ourselves. I think of the hymn “Count your many blessings see what God hath done.”

Let us consider a king of the Old Testament to appreciate God’s expectation for humility.

In the book of Ezekiel, God provides a prophecy to the city of Tyre and specifically its king. Tyre was a major seaport and leading city in Phoenicia. Ezekiel brought God’s word to the exiled Hebrews in this region somewhere in March or April of 587-586 B.C. The city of Tyre (and expressly the king) enjoyed incredible blessings at the time of the writing:

Geography: Ezekiel 27:3 and say to Tyre, ‘You who are situated at the entrance of the sea, merchant of the peoples on many coastlands

Wisdom: Ezekiel 28:4 With your wisdom and your understanding you have gained riches for yourself and gathered gold and silver into your treasuries;

Wealth: Ezekiel 28:5 By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches

Military might: Ezekiel 27:10-11 Those from Persia, Lydia, and Libya were in your army as men of war; they hung shield and helmet in you; they gave splendor to you. Men of Arvad with your army were on your walls all around, and the men of Gammad were in your towers; they hung their shields on your walls all around; they made your beauty perfect.

We learn that because of these blessings, the King of Tyre has developed a distorted view of himself. Ezekiel 28:2 “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas, ’Yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god…

God makes utterly clear His response to such pride. Ezekiel 28:6-10 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas. Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, in the hand of him who slays you.”

Also see Ezekiel 28:19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.

As a fulfillment of God’s prophecy, Tyre’s fate began with the long siege of the city by the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar (c. 580-570 B.C.).

Although the King of Tyre elevated pride to an extreme level, we must take care to avoid the same attitude.  His reward was that of complete and utter destruction. It is unlikely that we will see a direct intervention by God during our lifetime but it is clear that He despises a prideful spirit. Certainly we will all face Him on judgment day.

However, we can take comfort that God favors the humble. Consider King Solomon and the difference in his attitude when compared to the King of Tyre. Because of his contrite heart God came to him in a dream and offered to him one request. Solomon’s response is recorded in 1 Kings 3:7-9  Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” Not only did God grant King Solomon his request, He also granted him riches and honor such as none had ever known because He was so pleased by the manner of Solomon’s request. Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor in life.

A Christian’s goal is to model ourselves after Christ (King of kings). As we do so, humility should not be difficult and ought to become second nature. Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Christ willingly suffered humiliation and death for us while we were yet sinners. He, above all, had every reason to consider himself greater than those around him. However, he chose humility. How hard should it be for us to do the same?

Mark Hammonds