May 11, 2009


Philippians 2:1-11

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:5


MarAba was one of the greatestleadersthe Christians of Persia (present-day Iran) ever had. He was Patriarch of the Persian church from a.d. 540 to 552, and he shepherded the churches even though he was in prison during a time of bloody persecution by the state religion, Zoroastrianism. He was known as a peacemaker and was respected for his humility and wisdom.

But Mar Aba had not always been humble. Before his conversion to Christ he was a proud government official. Arriving at a ferry on the Tigris River one day and finding the boat full, he ordered one of the passengers off. The man yielded without complaint. But adverse winds forced the ferry back twice until Mar Aba, curious about the young man, invited him back onto the boat. The traditional account of this story then says the ferry crossed the Tigris without trouble. When he asked about this man who seemed to have the favor of the gods, Aba learned that he was a Jewish Christian. Aba could not rest until he too became a believer in Christ.

With shame I remember how I once shoved a man on a train in Tokyo after he nearly knocked me over by jumping into the car before the doors closed. I will never forget the shock on his face; I doubt he saw Christ in me.

Humility does not come easy. But if it comes, it brings a wonderful inheritance and bears eternal fruit.

Lord, make us like Jesus, who humbled himself for our sake, to show us the full extent of your love. Use us in the work of building your kingdom, we pray. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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