For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled – these are the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He made this statement while teaching His audience about the importance of being humble. The following verses tell the full story.
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”(Luke 18, 9-14)
As you see in the above story; the Pharisee declared himself righteous before the LORD while the tax collector humbled himself before the LORD and begged Him for forgiveness.
Well, what we see here is – one is exalting himself and the other is humbling himself. As the saying goes – every action has a reaction; the tax collector went home justified and the Pharisee went home unjustified.
Actually, the above two characters in the parable represent two different sections of the Jewish society of Jesus’ time. One group lived a hypocritical, self-righteous life without any desire to acknowledge their sin before God Almighty while the other group was fully conscious of their sinful lifestyle and wanted to repent and turn away from their sins at the first opportunity they got.
Anyway, Jesus, through the above parable, wants us to learn a few things about the importance of being humble. As you know we are the disciples of Christ; we are His followers and He is our Master.
One of the key features of a Master – Disciple relationship is: The Disciples always imitate the Master. If this is true, then we need to imitate our Master – Jesus Christ. So, with regard to being humble what can we imitate from Christ?
As you know; Christ was God in flesh – He was Immanuel – God with us. In Colossians 1 it says – Christ is the image of the invisible God.
15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (1 Colossians 15-17)
However, when He walked up on the face of the earth; he walked in perfect humbleness. He never elevated himself above anybody. He never held any authority or position in the society nor did He ever have any desire for them. He did not own anything and never dreamed of owning anything. He associated with the outcasts of the society. He respected everyone irrespective of their status in the society.
So, if our Master never exalted himself, then, should we, his followers, ever dream of exalting ourselves in the church and in the society?
Why should we long and compete for power, positions and authority in the church and in the society?
Why not we humble ourselves and be at peace with ourselves and others both in the church and in the society?
If Christians had imitated Christ in every area of their lives, all these divisions, strife and in-fighting among believers would have vanished long ago.
Saints, the desire for elevating ourselves comes from a heart that is proud. When your heart is proud you will look for ways to elevate yourself above others. But God hates pride. The Sprit of the LORD never dwells in a heart that is full of pride. The Holy Bible Says – God hates a proud heart.
Yes, A proud heart will not go unpunished – what is the punishment for a proud heart? They will be humbled.
Also, the Word of God says – Pride goes before a fall.
The moment you exalt yourself, you are preparing to get yourself humbled and when you fall definitely you will be humbled.
Saints, if you want to be elevated; first you need to humble yourself instead of exalting yourself. God will see your humble heart and will exalt you at the right time and when God exalts you, no man can humble you.
Also, the Word of God says – Though God dwells on high He still looks kindly on the lowly; on the ones who are humble in their hearts; the ones who do not have the desire to exalt themselves.
Again, in Isaiah 57, The LORD says; I live in a high and holy place but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit. Here, you might wonder who is contrite and lowly in spirit – it is the one who has a humble heart; the one who never has the desire to exalt himself. He stays happy in whatever position the LORD has placed him and trust in Him to get exalted.
15For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.(Isaiah 57, 15)
Saints, when we go through the above parable, we might find it a bit outrageous for the Pharisee to pray with a self-righteous attitude. However, it is not something peculiar to the times of Jesus. Even, today, in the midst of Born-again believers we could find the same attitude.
Many of us, since we are Christians, present ourselves before our fellow- Christians and God as the righteous ones. Some of us even do not hesitate to speak loud about our righteous lives.
So, I think – This parable is more relevant for our times than the time of Jesus. We see more hypocritical people in the contemporary church than in the ancient Jewish society. We, believers are more eager to exalt ourselves before God and Man than the unbelievers.
We care more about our power, status and reputation than the unbelievers. We also compete with the world and our fellow believers to gain power and authority; and what motivates us to compete is – our desire to exalt ourselves. But the Word of God says – “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled”
As the Word of God says; we are like the clay in the hands of a Potter. There is nothing in us that deserve praise or glory. God created us for His glory and He called us and separated us to do His will and not to do our will.
Everything that we have accomplished, The LORD has done for us. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for us to be proud of our achievements or exalt ourselves before others.
Saints, as Christians, our attitude should be that of Christ; we should imitate His humility in our lives and wait patiently under the might hand of God to be exalted. Amen.