Friday, June 2, 2023

The Call to Humility (Proverbs 16:5; PHIL. 2:1–12)

"Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished" (Prov. 16:5).

It has often been said that the theology of Scripture is a theology of opposites. We must die so we can live; we must become the least so we can become the greatest. Likewise, those who humble themselves will be exalted, but those who exalt themselves will be brought low.

God calls us to live as Christ, who humbled Himself and became obedient even to death on a cross. The King of heaven became a suffering servant on earth. He veiled His robes of majesty with the lowly dress of humanity, that He might be exalted above all for the salvation of our souls. He who descended into the depths of the earth has been raised to the highest heavens. He who kneeled to wash the feet of His sinful disciples now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He who was beaten, cursed, scorned, and killed now reigns on high, brandishing the sword of judgment and holding forth the olive branch of peace.

It was not at Christ’s ascension that the Father declared His pleasure in the Son, but it was when He was humbled beneath the waters of baptism. In the same way, God is pleased with us, not when we exalt ourselves, but when we are clothed in humility. God loves the Davids, Jeremiahs, Johns, and Marys of this world—not the Sauls, Pharaohs, Nebuchadnezzars, or Herods. “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD,” says the proverb. Those who think highly of themselves, who seek after their own gain and exalt themselves even above God Himself will not receive the blessed pronouncement “in him I am well pleased.” They will only hear “away from Me, I never knew you.”

William Gurnall described pride as that which “loves to climb up, not as Zaccheus to see Christ, but to be seen.” The proud imagine themselves to be greater than they are. Like Pharaoh, they scoff at God, asking “Who is the LORD?” It took the crashing waves of the Red Sea for him to discover the answer. Pharaoh’s pride was in his power. But it can also be in beauty, talents, position, even goodness. Whatever the source, all the proud have this in common: they have forgotten that they are but worms striving with their Maker, and they “have nothing which they have not received.”

Give serious thought to your own pride. How does it manifest itself in your life? Ask a trusted friend or spouse if they see ways in which you are prideful. Write those prideful tendencies on a piece of paper and put it in your Bible. Every time you pray or read the Scriptures, ask to be made humble in these areas.