God exalts the humble


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“When you are as great as I am, it is hard to be humble” Muhammad Ali said. Jesus had a very different view. Jesus was God in human form….the word made flesh! But, God’s will was that Jesus humbles himself and dies as a sacrifice for the sins of all humankind. Jesus was God, but chose not to act like God, not to take advantage of who he was. Instead he humbled himself unto death, because of our sins. And because he was humble, he is now exalted at the right hand of God.

The “scribes and the Pharisees” are the group in the gospels that everybody loves to hate.  By that I mean that we identify them as a group of people who often seem to be at odds with Jesus—and we seem to know why.  The word most often associated with them is “hypocrite.”  That is, we listen to a gospel passage such as today’s in which the scribes and Pharisees are depicted as being “fond of places of honor at banquets and the front seats in synagogues.”  We hear them described as those who “bind up heavy loads . . . while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.”  “Hypocrites!” we say.  Saying one thing while doing another.

The indictment which Jesus makes is this:  “Their words are bold but their deeds are few.”  They have a lot of the right words; it’s just that the words never penetrate deeply enough to affect their actions. Once we are seen to be Christians, our lives are measured against Christ’s life. We become deeply aware of our shortcomings and inadequacies. We can fall into the way of those Pharisees. We can work too hard at the externals of our faith, so that we appear to be good people. We don’t want to let the team down; we want to witness well, and that is, in a way, good. But we need to work on the hidden areas of our life, our inner walk with Jesus.

God exalts the humble. He did it to Bethlehem. He did it to Mary. He did it to Jesus. All were humble. All were exalted. It is true that we can be exalted in this world by power, wealth, and status. But there is one problem with worldly exaltation: it’s temporary, just as Muhammad Ali discovered. So it is with all worldly exaltation and greatness. But the exaltation that God gives lasts forever. Indeed, on the day of the resurrection, those who have humbled themselves before God as well as before their fellows, will share in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. God exalts the humble. That’s a promise you can count on!

Lent is an opportunity to let the Lord take us into deep water.  To let the Word penetrate deeply into our hearts so that it truly changes them.  To let the Word, not just inform, but transform us, so that our actions are affected.  Today’s Lenten prayer might be:  “Lord, make me a person of depth in you.”

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