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Vol.  10  No. 10 October 2008  Page 7
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Robert Johnson

Humble Yourself and Be Exalted

By Robert Johnson

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10). In writing or speaking, variety of expression is important. You are taught in school that using a variety of phrases to express the same thought better communicates the idea, rather than using the same phrase over and over. Not using variety in our speech creates a sense of monotony and ultimate boredom in others, and affects the way our message is perceived.

Therefore, in thinking about all that, I was wondering what synonyms might come up for the word humble or humility. Modesty and meekness come up in a search through a thesaurus, but I believe a better term is servant or slave. It is the model Scripture uses to illustrate what humility is all about. For example, during His earthly ministry, Jesus’ disciples had a running debate between themselves about which was the greatest. Jesus’ greatest response to this was before His crucifixion, when He washed His disciples’ feet. He, Lord over all creation, took the role of a lowly house servant, a position no one wanted then, or even by us today. Yet, Jesus tells us, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:15-17). The example Jesus gave is to live humbly with each other.

This is not easy to do in a society that tells us if we don’t pursue our goals and desires we will never amount to anything. For the sake of ego, people are pushed and shoved aside for desires to be fulfilled. To be recognized, the needs of others go ignored while another’s personal agenda is placed in the limelight. For one’s ambitions to be realized, others may be hurt and suffer. Exalting oneself, for whatever reason, is the antithesis of humility, which is having the heart of a servant, which is the example of Christ. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

We realize, then, why exalting ourselves keeps one from knowing the exaltation of God. God can’t honor us when we are too busy honoring ourselves. God can’t offer His greatest blessings when we are too busy seeking blessings for ourselves. If God isn’t the source, then it comes from the world, and anything the world offers is short-lived at best. Many of the times when we seek our own way, we are seeking that which is based in sin, not in righteousness, which separates us from God. Only by developing the heart of a slave, a slave of Christ, of submission to Him and His will, do we allow God access to our lives, and allow Him to bless us, exalt us and honor us. No wonder Scripture tells us, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Taking the role of a servant before God is appropriate, as He is God, not us. He alone possesses immortality and dwells in inapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). How dare we exalt ourselves and seek our own way before such a great and awesome God! By recognizing our role as a slave of Christ, we humble ourselves and allow Him access to who we are, to bless us and mold us in His image, to lift us up as beloved children. Peter reminds us of this when he writes, “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” (1 Peter 5:6-7). To find His blessings, submit to Him. It may seem like an oxymoron as far as the world is concerned, but if you will humble yourself to God, to become a slave for Him, His exaltation far exceeds any we can contrive for ourselves. In the end, that’s what really matters. “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:10-12).

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