READ: Psalm 93, Amos 5, Luke 21, 2 Corinthians 12
Holiness is beautiful, and God goes to great lengths to beautify His people. Lowliness is beautiful, and God uses extreme measures to make and keep His people lowly. Holiness and lowliness are inseparable; it is impossible to lack one and have the other. God uses unusual methods to keep us lowly. He sends thorns in the flesh and messengers of Satan to buffet us (2 Cor. 12:7), and He makes us weak in order that His strength is perfected (v. 9). Lowliness seems to be untenable when a person is naturally strong. It would be nice if we could be trusted with our strengths, but human folly necessitates that God limit us. Unguarded strengths are double weaknesses, and God guards our strengths by introducing limits to their effectiveness. Usually this means we are missing a crucial piece to the puzzle that God provides through someone we don’t like, or someone weak, or someone surprising. Enforced dependency on others keeps us humble, and humility adorns us with God’s beauty, for God is eminently lowly.
Only the humble can stay holy. When holiness is approached only from human effort, it invariably leads to hypocrisy. Only those who know they cannot be holy, much less sustain holiness, have any hope of it. For holiness to adorn God’s house (Psalm 93:5), His people must recognize they are not holy and cannot make themselves so–holiness is a gift that is given to the humble. We sanctify ourselves (in that we discipline ourselves to stay away from what is vile), but our efforts simply position ourselves before God for cleansing. We are made holy; we cannot make ourselves holy. Human temples are divinely judged beautiful by their interiors (Luke 21:5); they are adorned from a purity that originates within. Nothing is as ugly as a beautiful woman or handsome man who acts vainly or selfishly. Nothing is as beautiful as a broken man or woman who is lowly and holy before Jesus.
In these last days, Jesus is dedicated to adorning His people. Beautification requires time, and for us it will require patience. We lose track of how ugly we are, how deeply pride and sin are woven into our being and thinking. Jesus is committed to the beauty process but it will be a painful one; we must want it (lowly holiness) bad enough to endure the scrubbing. Jesus promises that at the end of a patient process not a hair of our head will be lost (Luke 21:18), but that promise is accompanied by these: You will be persecuted and imprisoned (v. 12), you will be betrayed and killed (v. 16), and you will be hated by all (v. 17). In life the older we get and the more we suffer, the worse we look. In the Spirit, the more we suffer and the longer we endure, the more we shine.