Key Verse: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
—Luke 14:11, New King James Version
JESUS SUPPLIES US, in our Key Verse, with an overarching theme of Christian life. That essential theme is personal humility. If we pursue self-exaltation, we will assuredly be humbled at some point in time. If, on the other hand, we voluntarily humble ourselves, we will be exalted by our Heavenly Father. This is in harmony with the Divine principle, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Gal. 6:7-8, NKJV) Either we will savor the fruit of humility or despair the fruit of our pride.
Jesus’ primary audience for this lesson was a gathering of religious leaders at the home of a prominent Pharisee. These men loved “the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.” (Mark 12:38-40) Our Lord framed the lesson on humility with a parable, based on a text from the Book of Proverbs. Surely these religious men were familiar with the words of the Old Testament, for they considered themselves stewards of God’s Word. The admonition was, “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of the great; For it is better that he say to you, Come up here, Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.”—Prov. 25:6,7, NKJV
Would it not be very embarrassing to assume a seat of honor and then, in front of all, be sent down to a lowly seat? Let us be forewarned and avoid such presumptuous thinking. As the psalmist pleaded, “Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me.”—Ps. 19:12,13, NKJV
By virtue of our fallen natures, it is easy to presume honor is due us because of spiritual maturity or years of service in God’s cause. No! Humility must continually reign in our hearts. In the eternal scheme of things, those who are self-seeking, prideful, or boastful will find themselves humbled by God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matt. 7:21-23, NKJV) Let us always remember, “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility.”—Prov. 18:12, NKJV
Jesus’ lessons regarding the necessity of humility left a lasting impression on Apostle Peter’s heart. He passed this vital principle on to us in the closing lines of his first epistle. “All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Pet. 5:5-7, NKJV) Our humbling, under God’s supervision, is never to belittle us. It is always for our blessing and Christian growth, and shows God’s care for us. Thus may we cherish the privilege, benefit, and blessing of serving God with humility.