Lessons Of A Lifetime

The Exalted Humbled
Or
The Humble Exalted
Sunday March 27, 2022

Scripture To Consider:
“Also Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”’

“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18.9-14

Something To Consider:
Jesus spoke this parable to those who were spiritually mistaken by their trusting in themselves and their self-righteousness. But self-righteousness is wrongly based on a trust of one’s own goodness compared to the goodness of others. This error of attitude may lead a person to wrongfully despising others.

The Psalmist speaks to this humanistic error in our thought process in Psalm 118.8, by claiming, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” Trusting in oneself is an act of self-exaltation, which according to Jesus leads to forced humbling. And that is a place that none of us wish or desire to go!

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15.33; “The fear of the LORD is the instruction [or beginning] of wisdom, and before honor [or exaltation] is humility.” From God’s perspective, humility always precedes our being honored or exalted as true believers. That is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the Word of God!

Jesus declared in Matthew 23.11, “But he [or she] who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” In the world, very few are willing to become servants. Jesus also explained in the following verse, “And whoever exalts himself [or herself] will be humbled, and he [or she] who humbles himself [or herself] will be exalted.” But do we truly trust the words of Jesus?

Something Else To Consider:
Nahum, an Old Testament prophet, wrote in verse 8 of the first chapter of his book; “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows who trust in Him.” Jesus is not only a stronghold in troubled times, but He personally knows those who trust Him in troubled times.

In this parable Jesus knew that the self-righteous Pharisee did not trust in God, but worse, he wrongly trusted in Himself. And at the same time Jesus knew the tax collector of this parable did not trust in himself, but rather trusted in the mercy of God alone. What or who, as believing leaders in training are we trusting in? The honest answer is definitely something else to consider!

The apostle Paul revealed in 1 Corinthians 1.9; “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raised the dead.” Paul, speaking of our being good servants, affirmed in 1 Timothy 4.10; “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men [women and young people], especially of those who believe.”

Something More To Consider:
Though we would pray three times a day like the Pharisee, or fast twice a week, or give tithes of all we possess like the Pharisee, we too would still fall short of the glory of God. Comparing ourselves to others is not the standard by which we should judge ourselves or others. If we must compare, let us compare ourselves to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Upon that true comparison we too like the tax collector would have no other choice than to cry out for the mercy of God. For in all our evil efforts to  exalt ourselves, we only guarantee our eventual humbling by God. But, if we as the tax collector of this parable acknowledge our overwhelming need of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness, in time, in His time, we will be exalted by Him.

Self-exaltation is risky business even for the best and worst of those pretending, self-righteous in their own eyes, modern day Pharisees. Let us as His children never attempt to go there. The fall back to reality is accompanied by a very hard and humbling crash landing. Therefore, the key to our not being humbled by God is our willingness to humble ourselves. James, the stepbrother of Jesus, explains in his letter that humility cures worldliness. He wrote in James 4.6; “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

James then revealed a biblical sequence that guarantees our being exalted, beginning in James 4.7. 1) “Therefore, submit to God.” 2) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” 3) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” 4) “Cleanse your hands, you sinners.” 5) “Lament and mourn [over your sin] and weep!” 6) “Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” 7) “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up [or exalt you].”

A Few Final Words:
I will say it again, according to the Word of God, humility cures worldliness! And worldliness, or our being more earthly minded than biblically minded, creates opposition to humility ruling in us. We must become more spiritually minded by our becoming more biblically minded and filled with the power and restraint of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we will force God to humble us.

The natural order in God’s kingdom is that the self-exalted are humbled by God, and the self-humbled are exalted by God in God’s timing. This is an order that the natural man, woman, and or young person resists with all their failing strength. Why is that? Is it because we first and foremost refuse to submit ourselves to God? Oh, we relish in the so-called title of Christian, but we resist the true Lordship of Jesus Christ. One way or the other, we will eventually be humbled willingly or by the will of God.

According to Jesus, “I tell you, this man [the tax collector aware of the fact that he was a sinner] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the religious but not spiritual religious leader]; for everyone who exalts himself [or herself] will be humbled, and he who humbles himself [or herself] will be exalted.”

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, teach us to equate true humility with justification, and self-exaltation with the foolishness of proud men and women. May we be humbled by Jesus’ example. In Him Always, Amen!

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