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The Most Essential Character Quality

While God provides salvation freely to those who believe, yet He has also purposely placed stumbling blocks along the way seemingly to allow only one kind of person to ultimately believe and be saved.

Consider that to the disobedient it was prophecied that Jesus Christ would be to them "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." 1Peter 2:8 For example:

Some stumble over Christ's claims about Himself

Jesus said, "Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. ... Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:45-48,54 Response: Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" ... From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." John 6:60,66
Some stumble over the Cross
 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Co 1:18
Others may stumble over the issue of Faith vs that of Works
"Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.  Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.  As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." Rom 9:31-33
And still others stumble over humiliating circumstances which can accompany faith in Christ.
"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." Mt 13:20,21
Consider also the reason why Jesus says that people hate him. "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil."John 7:7

Consider also that Jesus came not in glory but in humility. He was born into a poor family. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2,3

And yet he claimed to be Lord and demanded obedience - even unto death.Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." Matt 16:24,25

All of this filters out the proud from entering the Kingdom of God. Only the humble end up entering. Only the humble can look past the lowliness of Christ and see him for who he is. Only the humble are willing to devalue their own lives enough to follow Jesus. Only the humble are willing to submit to his Lordship. Only the humble are willing to be convicted of their sins and repent. Only the humble allow themselves to be saved by the grace of God rather than relying on a performance based salvation concept that other religions hold to. Humility is the most essential of character qualities.

For this is what the high and lofty One saysó he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."Isa 57:15

And He says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."Isa 66:2

Humility is really prerequiste to everything. It is the most important character quality you can have. Because everything else is dependent upon humility. If a person doesn't have humility then he won't have contriteness. For he figures he's a good righteous person in his own eyes. So also "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Ps 10:4 And thus one without humility is without faith in God and has no regard for His Word.

Contriteness is brokenness of spirit. A wild horse must be "broken in", that is "tamed", for it to be ridden safely. When we are broken in we are submissive to God's will and make ourselves willing servants. The LXX uses the a Greek word here which means quiet, peaceable, tranquil. Peter uses that word in describing the inner beauty of a godly wife saying, "it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Godís sight." 1Peter 3:4 A contrite spirit is one which is tamed, teachable, submissive.

Trembling at God's Word is the natural effect of a humble contrite person hearing the word. And why trembling? Because the first thing God's Word does is convict us of sin, of God's standard of righteousness, and of the judgment to come.  "It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Heb 4:12 So also the Psalmist writes, "Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word." Ps 119:161 There's wisdom in fear. In fact "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." Ps 111:10  So also those who respect God's Word respect God's messengers. John writes, "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us." 1John 4:6 And consider how Paul describes the Corinthian Christians receiving Titus, "he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling." 2Cor 7:15

Conversely, the Essential Qualities of People that God Hates

Conversely what kind of person does God not like to be around? God doesn't like to be around people who think too highly of themselves - too highly of their personal ideas, opinions, feelings. God does not like to be around people who are unteachable, unwilling to change their ideas or change their ways, rebellious and unsubmissive. He does not like to be around people who have no fear of Him, no respect for His Word. They don't pay attention or try to understand and obey what He said.

Discussion Questions

What things about Christ and his message caused people to stumble in the first century?
What about among the various cultures today?
What is the most common character quality of those who reject Christ?
Conversely what is the most characteristic of those who come to believe in Christ?
What does this say about what kinds of people God likes to be around the most and those he hates?
How is humility developed and how can it be maintained?

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Dec 16,2023