Sunday, May 17, 2009

How Humiliating.

A few days ago I was reading in Luke 18, and verses 9-14 really stood out to me - especially verse 14.

It's basically the story of two people, both praying. The first one was a really good, religious man (the pharisee) and the other was a thief, liar, and national traitor (a tax collector who worked collecting taxes for the enemy). The religious guy stood up and loudly prayed, basically saying to everyone around him "I'm so glad I'm not like that stupid tax collector. I'm really good and he's really bad."

The tax collector though, knowing what a sinful man he is, beat himself on the chest out of guilt and remorse because he knew what a horrible wretch he had been, stealing, lying, betraying his own people. He was so remorseful that he couldn't even look up at God while begging for mercy.

So Jesus says something crazy at this point: He says the bad guy - not the good guy - was right with God after this event.

Not the religious guy who went to church and fasted and tithed regularly. The bad guy. The one who was a traitor; who took advantage of his own people; who stole and who lied. The really bad guy left being "justified" or made right in the sight of God.


Surely the good guy, the one who never stole or lied, the one who gave to the church and fasted and prayed and knew the Bible - surely HE would be the one who was right with God.

But no - it was the bad guy.

And you know why? Because he was humble. Because he wasn't arrogant. Because he wasn't full of himself. Like the religious guy was.

Dare I say, like religious people usually are even today?

See, at the end of Luke 18:14, Jesus says "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

To be honest, I must say that I'm pretty prideful. And honestly, that's something I'm ashamed of.

I'm also ashamed to say this but to make a point, I will: a few weeks ago we were praying in staff and as someone else was praying, I remember thinking "I wouldn't pray like that - I'd pray differently." What was really thinking in my heart was this thought: "I can pray better than you."

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine someone being so terribly arrogant? Can you imagine what God must have thought when I thought that???

I was shocked that I could be so arrogant and prideful. I hate that I can be that way.

Back to Luke 18:14. "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled."

WILL be humbled. Let that sink in. You will be forcefully humbled.

If you are proud, you WILL be humbled. It's a promise from Jesus. When you compare this verse to other verses like Proverbs 3:34 that says God opposes the proud, we can figure that God WILL humble you if you're proud.

That should scare the dickens out of you. It sure does for me.

I don't know about you, but I don't want God to oppose me. I don't want God to have to forcefully humble me; I'd much rather humble myself than be humbled by God. I'd much rather to choose to be humble than be forced to be humble.

For a long time I've asked God to grant me wisdom, vision, creativity, and self-discipline - but after I read Luke 18:14, I've added humility to that list because that's something I definitely need the Lord to work into me.

You can be humble, or you can be humiliated. The choice is yours.

No comments: