Question: In regard to humility, we can do one of two things in our life. Which of the following is preferred?
A. We can choose to be humble
B. We can be humbled.
You have a 50-50 shot.
What’ll it be?
I’d rather choose the former but have experienced the latter, as well. Being humble is not always the natural instinct, is it? There are times when things are going smoothly, in our favor, and we feel quite successful. In these times, if we’re not careful we can find our self slipping into a prideful mindset, thinking that we alone are responsible for our success. That our talent or ability has brought about some great thing that we should receive credit for.
Never been there?
Let’s keep moving forward, shall we?
Here’s what Jesus says about the prideful and the humble.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
If we exalt ourselves we will fall. Worse even, we may be knocked down. The definition of abased means to lower in rank, prestige, or esteem. Like the example that Jesus gave of the man who sat in the high seat at the wedding banquet and was asked to move to a lower seat, we can be called out – embarrassed – in front of everyone. Why? Because this thing is not about us, it’s about God, and if He decides to do some great work through us and we attempt to take the credit for said work, He will deal with it. God is holy. God is righteous. God is all-powerful. He will not let another take His glory.
Look at Saul, for example. Great king. Anointed king. God’s chosen. But Saul got things out of order, forgot who was in charge, and ended up in the field eating grass like a wild animal. Talk about being humbled. King David was also humbled when his sin with Bathsheba was revealed and it brought consequences to his home but David recognized his inability without God’s direction and repented before God and was restored. The difference? Both men were imperfect but David recognized his own weakness.
And he recognized God’s greatness.
God looks to use those who will bring Him glory. Not those who will use their success to glorify their own self or push their own agenda. We can’t trick God with false humility, either. He sees through the act, just ask the Pharisees.
It doesn’t stop here though. It’s not all “be humble or else”. Look back to Matthew 23:12B. If we humble ourselves before God we will be exalted. Exalted for what purpose? Exalted so that God will be glorified. Look how David, his family, and his descendants were blessed because of David’s recognition of his need for God.
We are able to experience the same type of blessings if we are careful to give God the glory. Commit to give God the credit if you are successful at work, if you have a successful ministry, if your family is strong, if you are an effective leader.
Want God to do great things through you? Recognize your inability without Him.
Have you ever had the wind taken out of your sail when you forgot who deserved the recognition?