All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 18:14)
What should be the easiest thing in the world to do—humble ourselves—eludes us at virtually every turn. We all know that godly humility is impossible without a work of grace in the heart. But we have all come to know through painful personal experience that godly humility often seems like “mission impossible,” even with a work of grace in the heart. Yet God says that humility is to be honored and we must pursue it with every fiber of our being if we are going to put the Gospel on display and reflect the character of Christ.
So how do we do it? We keep our eyes off the self and focus entirely on the Savior. When we look to our Savior, we see humility personified: humble in His birth . . . humble in His life . . . humble in His death. Humility marked every aspect of our Lord’s life from the womb to the tomb. You see the promise in our passage today reflected in the life of Christ. God the Father exalted God the Son by raising Him from death to life. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God the Father in power and authority and dominion.
Here is a great question to ponder when pursuing a life of humility: What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4:7). The answer, of course, is nothing. The more you have, the more you are indebted to the One who gave it all to you. So what do we have to be proud of? Absolutely nothing! Everything we have, everything we are, and everything we will ever be is all a gift from God. Our next heartbeat is a gift from God, and that truth should keep us small in our own eyes and serving Him in sincere gratitude.
In today’s passage, Jesus was talking about two men who went up to the Temple to pray; the Pharisee kept his eyes on himself, while the tax collector kept his eyes on God. We know this by their prayers: the Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men, but the tax collector simply cried out, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The Pharisee was counting on himself and his merit before God; the tax collector was counting on Christ and His mercy alone. The Pharisee was proud of who he was and what he had accomplished in his own strength; the tax collector was humble because of who he was and what God had accomplished for Him.
Where has your focus been lately? On yourself? Or on your Savior? Remember, humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. The less you think of yourself, the more you will begin to think of Jesus and of others. And then humility will flow through you like a river to all those with whom you come in contact.
Look to the cross. Look to Christ. Look and live a life marked by Christlike humility.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!