Have you ever sat in a seat, or perhaps parked in a parking spot, that wasn’t meant for you? In 2008, I began working at the Department of Motor Vehicles. After I was hired, I was sent to training at headquarters in Columbia, SC. I arrived early to my new employee training, wanting to make sure I had a place to park and arrive to class on time. However, when I arrived, the parking lot was pretty full. I drove through the aisles hoping for a “good spot” and, to my surprise, found an AWESOME spot! Ecstatic that I had scored such a great spot, I parked and made my way to class… only to be mortified about an hour later. The training instructor informed me that I needed to move my car right away because I had parked in the Director of the DMV’s spot! Everyone laughed and I was humiliated. I went from feeling pretty special that I had scored the perfect spot to being humbled by having to move my car and walk just as far as, if not farther than, everyone else. But, by God’s grace, that embarrassing situation helped me realize that I had some hidden pride that needed to be dealt with.
As believers, we must not allow pride to rule in our heart. If we do, God will not allow it to go unchecked. It is much better to humble ourselves before the Lord than to have the Lord humble us.
In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus is at a Sabbath dinner when He notices that some guests choose to sit in the places of honor. He tells a parable to teach them that, when we attempt to be honored, we may soon find that we are humbled instead. How so? Someone of greater status may have been invited to attend. And, at his arrival, we will be humiliated as we make our way to the lowest, least noticed, most insignificant seat in the room. Instead, Jesus says that it is better first to choose the worse seat and then, later, be invited to sit in a place of honor. Jesus ends the parable with this extraordinary statement, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
That one statement is the complete opposite of what we are taught by our culture from the time we are born until we die. The world tells us to make it to the top by any means necessary, make a name for ourselves, achieve the highest status we can, get our 15 minutes of fame… In other words, puff ourselves up in every way and every chance we get.
But Jesus says that, in the kingdom of God, it is not those who are prideful that will be exalted, but those who are humble servants of the living God. Humility exalts! Again and again, we are told in Scripture that we are to humble ourselves before the Lord. As believers, it is much better for us to humbly serve our God than it is to be puffed up by man or self. We must stop thinking that we are the most important person in the universe because we’re not… God is.
If anyone had the right to think more highly of himself, it would be God. But this is not the example that He gave us. Jesus demonstrated His humility during His earthly ministry in many ways: He was born in a manger, washed the feet of His disciples, and rode into Jerusalem as the coming King on a donkey’s colt. But the greatest of ways that He demonstrated His humility was by leaving His throne in heaven, emptying Himself of His Kingly status by becoming a servant wrapped in the flesh of man, and becoming obedient to point of death on the cross for us, sinners (Phil. 2:7-8). What greater selfless service is this? And if our God can humble Himself for arrogant sinners like us, then how much more should we?
Furthermore, Jesus is not only the greatest example of humility but of exaltation. Paul tells us in Philippians that God the Father highly exalted His Son. Jesus is given the highest position, rank, and title in heaven. Jesus is Lord, and at His name, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess who Jesus is. He is Lord of all.
Christians, may we follow the humble example of our Lord and Savior Jesus the next time we choose our seat, our parking spot, or are tempted to be prideful by thinking too highly of ourselves.