“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the [Pharisee]; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
~Luke 18:13-14 (NRSV).
God is no respecter of individual persons and even the so-called righteous are open to judgment, as the Lord uses people and situations to sift the heart.
No one is safe in the mood of pride. Even fleeting fancies there are fraught with spiritual and practical danger.
The Results for Those Exalting Themselves
I’m reminded of status ventures in the workplace—and how these can be stripped away from us in seemingly a flash. Take nothing for granted.
We live in a world where comfort only lasts a short time; only to be swept away, as if a mirage that never existed in the first place. These comforts of material blessing and positions of stature—once lost—soon have us regretting we had them to begin with.
Consider Job. He was a rich man in many different ways. Yet, more could be taken from him than he realised. Even though he was not given to exalt himself, he was still cursed, and why ‘good’ people suffer can never be understood this side of eternity.
As a general rule we cannot contend with Job so far as righteousness is concerned. His example is a good one; that anyone can suffer harrowing loss to the level of such cursing. Our ‘righteousness’ is no ultimate guarantee in this broken life. And that’s the trap; to think we’re righteous.
Extending the possibility of cursing that’s ever-present, and knowing that God’s nature is to punish sin, we can naturally expect that taking a high position (see, for instance, Proverbs 25:6-7) will afford the situational wrath of God. It’s not the Lord’s nature to let pride off the hook.
Great News – the Humble Will (Eventually) Be Exalted
In God’s good timing the diligently humble are raised up.
It’s wonderful news to think that not one person is favoured more than another—though in our comparative ways we’ll attribute disparity. This is not partiality to any degree; not over the longer term.
It’s better to expect less—but not pessimistically—whilst we hope, in expectation, for the Lord to speak. God’s always communicating to us and through our circumstances.
When we learn to reject point blank anything of the world over us, and all things due or creating pride, we stand to lose nothing and still gain the whole spiritual life; the blessings of God.
We might know low circumstances now. Be thankful, however, for what is still coming!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.