For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
This is a principle that Jesus expects His disciples to live by. And it is a tough thought to force into modern American culture. It is a square peg in a round hole. We are conditioned to be driven. We are molded into proud achievers who take pride in self-reliance and personal accomplishments. We reward just about every kind of achievement (and in this day and age, educationally we now reward participation only) in some way. But humble service goes without applause.
I got an object lesson in this just last night. Aubrey has a high school class assignment to create her resume. Already, her 17 years of grand executive achievement are be be applauded (and definitely padded) on paper to a potential employer. She was looking for the “right way” to turn her service experience helping first grade Sunday School or volunteering in an inner city mission into marketable job skills! I smiled at first, then got irritated at the absurdity of it all. It starts so soon in America.
Jesus reminds us that God has a way of turning pride upside down. He brings down the lofty in His time. Self-promotion only works to a point in mankind’s decaying institutions! The most pride-filled and self-absorbed being in the universe (Satan, who aspired to be like God on His throne) is cast down and already doomed on this earth. He is still a hard worker. I am sure he pads his resume. Because Satan is at work with pride as his motivation, we are already at high risk when pride is the train we board for the destination of happiness. Jesus pretty much guarantees us with this statement that we won’t be ultimately satisfied. We will derail.
Humility is the path to satisfaction in life. I have to believe that. It is about hearing one rewarding statement at the end of my life: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” It is that line that has me willing to step back and to play may bit part. Jesus has the lead role. We are all just supporting players in the powerful drama of redemption that ends with a new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness.