“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”Matthew 23:11–12
Jesus always has a way of telling us what we don’t want to hear, but we need to hear! In Matthew 23, Jesus was teaching to the crowds and his disciples. In his teaching, he references the motivations and actions that the Pharisees lived by. Everything they did was to bring attention to themselves. What may have looked holy and spiritual on the outside was unholy and unspiritual on the inside. Jesus knows our hearts! He knows if our actions are truly backed up by the right motives or not.
After Jesus gives many examples in verses 1-10 of how the Pharisees were missing it, he makes this powerful statement in verses 11-12. Jesus has come to truly show us what love looks like. It looks like humility! The religious wouldn’t understand this. Their hearts were focused on the outside. Jesus is reversing things though and channeling what’s of first importance to the inside.
Think about the car you drive. For about eight years, I’ve driven a 2008 Jeep Liberty. I got this Jeep a year or so before I moved to Louisiana. I thought it was the coolest thing! It was four wheel drive, sat up high, and even had a sun roof that went all the way behind the back seat. It was like driving a Jeep convertible! As each year went by though, small things began not to work, even that cool sun roof! Over time things started to decline. Earlier this year all the lights started lighting up on my dashboard like a Christmas tree. Tis the season! Oh yeah, the A/C also went out and we know how that goes down in southeast Louisiana! But the funny thing was my Jeep looked great on the outside! You wouldn’t know that anything was not working well on it until you actually got inside and started driving it. By the way, I don’t have that Jeep anymore, but I’m thankful for it and have tons of great memories with it!
Similarly, that’s exactly what Jesus was calling out with the Pharisees. They were exalting themselves on the outside and resisting humility on the inside. The outside looked great but not the inside. Striving to live a life of humility will end well for us, in this lifetime and in the next! Not only will Jesus honor this way of living now, he will ultimately reward us in Heaven.
In this season of Advent and Christmas how are you doing in the area of humility? If we are being honest, none of us have arrived here. It’s the example of Jesus that quickly reminds us what being a Christian is all about. If Jesus is our example, then humility should be the mark of our lives as we aim to be like him.
This Christmas, we should be reminded that Jesus came to us in the form of humility. As Pastor Dustin often says, “Jesus came to us as a suffering servant but will return as the conquering King!” As we live for Jesus we are drawn back to humility. So this Christmas season rest in that. Take the pressure off of yourself to be something great in everyone else’s eyes. Humble yourself under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and watch what he does!