Staying Humble After God Exalts You

Tarpon Springs 001

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:10 NLT

Ever notice that Jesus did not rush over to the Pharisees right after His resurrection and tell them, “I told you so!” Jesus did not have a vindictive spirit.

By the time Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him he no longer had a vindictive spirit either. Who knows? Maybe God had the butler forget about Joseph for a couple of years because it took that long for him to realize that the meaning of his dream was not really about everyone bowing down to him. The dream was really about him saving lives. See Genesis 45:7.

When I lived in Texas I had a friend who was a nurse but was studying to become a nurse practitioner. She told me when she was in third grade an old nun was her teacher. The nun told her she would never be smart enough to become a nurse. Now here she was not only a nurse but studying to be a nurse practitioner. Sometimes when I would call her to go out to eat, she would tell me she had to study. One Sunday I called her to go eat with me, but she told me she was busy studying. I told her the nun was long gone by now and would never know she was a nurse practitioner now, so we should just go eat. She laughed and assured  me we would eat another time. Of course the real reason my friend was studying hard to become a nurse practitioner was not to vindicate herself to her old teacher. She was studying so she could help people. The hundreds and maybe thousands of people who have been blessed by my friend’s medical ministry know nothing about what the teacher told her.  Nor do they care. All they care about is that she can help them. And that’s all that really matters – helping people. By the time Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him he had nothing to prove. He was not sitting on a throne to be vindicated. He was sitting on a throne to save lives. When Jesus was resurrected He had no desire to vindicate Himself to any of the leaders. It was enough that Mary was there at the tomb and He had risen as her Savior. He is not in heaven vindicating Himself now. He is in heaven saving lives. That’s why He lives. See Hebrews 7:25.

I read through the Bible every year, and when I come to the story of David I had often wondered why it took David so long to actually become king after being anointed. Why didn’t he take the throne the day Samuel chose him? Why did God allow Saul to persecute him so much? Then one day I realized that Saul actually started out humble but became arrogant once he was on the throne, thus leading to his destruction. Is it possible God allowed David to wait and endure trials and tribulations on his way to the throne in order to keep him humble even after he was exalted as king?

James says God will exalt or “lift up” those who are humble. But even after being lifted up and exalted we are to remain humble. Arrogance has no place in the Christian life at any time. Jesus told Philip when you have seen Me you have Seen the Father. See John 14:9. When Jesus said He was meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29) He was showing them the Father who was on the throne in heaven. When Jesus was working in the carpenter shop He was showing them the Father who reigns over the entire universe. When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet He was showing them what God the Father is like.

Jesus was never arrogant and never will be. He was never proud and vindictive and never will be. Even after being exalted Jesus remains meek and lowly. While sitting on the throne watching his brothers bow down to him, Joseph knew he was sitting on the throne to save lives. When every knee bows to Jesus it wont be for self vindication. There is no selfishness in Jesus and thus no need for self vindication. Jesus will be sitting on the throne to save lives.

When God lifts you up, it won’t be for your self-vindication. Keep in mind that you are only where you are to serve others and save lives.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NLT

Luke 18; The Pharisee and Publican

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 

 18:10    Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 

 18:11    The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 

 18:12    I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 

 18:13    And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 

 18:14    I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 

Who do you identify with most in this story? Pride is so deceitful. A couple decades ago, I actually sat and listened to a lady brag to me about how humble she was. She had no idea what exactly she was doing. A few years later, I was visiting with a family who thought they were being perfectly humble by telling me that nobody is perfect, and then emphasizing , “NOT EVEN US!”  We all are tempted to take pride in our humility, if that even makes sense. This is why we need to ask Jesus to anoint our eyes with eyesalve so that we may see. When we see ourselves the way we really are, we will, like Paul confess that we are the chief of sinners.

It was the publican who went away justified. “ What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.”  {Faith I Live By 111}

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.  {Desire of Ages 83} 

“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.”

–          Isaac Watts – When I survey the Wondrous Cross