Humble or Humiliated?

Human as we are, we probably have all suffered times of humiliation. Shame and disgrace in the eyes of friend or foe are never pleasant experiences.

When evil despots lose power or when selfishly ambitious leaders in society have their unlawful acts revealed, few mourn for them.

Among people there always seem to be those who seek to exalt themselves. While this occurs at the expense of others, the individual who acts in such a manner faces certain humiliation.

This understanding is central to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We find one such example in the 23rd chapter of Matthew. The focus of His lesson is in verse 12: ” ‘And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ “

In this instance, Jesus taught that the scribes and the Pharisees were consumed with their own self-importance instead of setting right examples and walking in obedience to the pattern of life that God had established through Moses.

In another example found in Luke 14, Jesus took note of those who chose the best places. He then explains how we can avoid humiliation (verses 8-9). Also, in verse 10, Jesus gives us this instruction: ” ‘But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.’ “

This is the same way in which we must approach God. In contrasting the difference in approach by both a Pharisee and a tax collector in their prayers, Jesus shows that only the one who was humble was heard: ” ‘I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’ ” (Luke 18:14).

Throughout the Bible, the examples of those who exalted themselves, only to end up in disappointment and loss, stand in striking difference to those who lived their lives committed to obeying God and awaiting His magnificent promises.

We have the choice as to whether we humble ourselves or exalt ourselves leading to our own humiliation. In making that choice, we will do well to always consider God’s view in the matter: ” ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word’ ” (Isaiah 66:2).

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