Humbled and Exalted, Christ and Us|
The Bible is filled with admonitions and examples that teach us to be humble. The prevalence of this message throughout the Scriptures demonstrates how needful this lesson must be for us. Because it is man’s tendency to be self-centered, we need constant reminders from God’s word to humble us. Notice Romans 12:3 – "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…”
The curious thing about the Bible’s lessons in humility is that they promise great rewards for those who are truly humble. It is almost seems to be a contradiction that the way to receive a great reward for oneself is to be unselfish, and yet it is the absolute truth. This is because humility is an attitude of faith, and faith pleases God (Heb. 11:3). A faithful man will humble himself because he believes in the unseen God and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Such a man will set aside conceit and selfish ambition in favor of the will of God and the interests of others. By doing this, he entrusts himself to God in the hope of a great reward in the future. In a spiritual way, this man is abiding by the eternal law of "whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). In humility, he will bide his time and tend his work until the glorious harvest of God (Jas. 5:7-8).
Consider a few samples of the Bible passages that teach the lesson of humility. Each sample is complete with an admonition to be humble and a promise for a reward.
"The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life.” (Prov. 22:4)
"Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; see also Luke 14:11)
"I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14 – This is the moral of the Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.)
"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jas. 4:10)
"You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1Pet. 5:5-7)
Specifically, it is the reward of exaltation by God Himself that is promised for the humble. This means that if we will abstain from lifting up ourselves, then God will lift us up. Certainly, God can lift us up to a much higher place than we could ever achieve on our own.
Of course, the greatest lesson in humility from all of Scripture and history is given by the Lord Jesus. In Philippians 2:5-11, this lesson is taught with a direct application to us. This passage commands us to "have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” "This attitude” is taught by the deeds of our Lord Jesus…
"…who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Christ’s example not only teaches us the attitudes and actions of humility, but it also demonstrates the certainty of a rich reward from God the Father.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Therefore, let us follow Christ’s example of humility so that we may share in His reward and be fellow heirs with Him (Rom. 8:16-17). Jesus said Himself, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Certainly, we should learn from the Son of God that if He could leave the glory of heaven and humble Himself to point of dying of a cross, then we can give up our meager self-interests and humble ourselves for the easy and light service of the Lord. In exchange for such a small sacrifice, the Lord ensures us of exaltation by the hand of God. Indeed, the momentary humility of this life "is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2Cor. 4:17).
Stacey E. Durham
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