Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
—1 Peter 5:6 (NKJV)
We live in a country that promotes the American dream to always get ahead. Many Christians buy into this dream to the extent that they don’t allow the Lord to exalt them in His timing. They know that life is more than pushing for success and more possessions, but they have a need for acceptance and recognition.
What about those of us who aren’t on this drive for the world’s success and status? Do we strive for the approval and recognition of our peers by exalting ourselves and what we do? Or perhaps we seek approval and recognition through demeaning ourselves—making ourselves appear less so we can receive praise? True humility doesn’t seek approval through either exalting oneself or abasing oneself. It only seeks to glorify God.
1 Peter 5:6 clearly states that humility is something that we choose willingly. When we don’t humble ourselves, then life will. And when life does humble us, that becomes humiliation. The only way up in God’s kingdom is down. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,” Proverbs 18:12 declares, “and before honor is humility.” Before we can receive honor, we have to live humbly. When we choose to humble ourselves, God exalts us.
God knows the time to exalt us. And it takes humility to allow God to promote us instead of promoting ourselves. Waiting patiently for God’s timing allows Him to mold and complete us. “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4, NKJV). God wants us to believe His promise and not become weary in waiting for His timing. “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV).
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
—Matthew 16:24-25 (NKJV)
Denying self goes against the grain of most people. They don’t want to give up what they want. They don’t want to die to self and take up their cross and put God and others ahead of their own need for recognition or their own well-being. But if we desire to receive the best God has for us—to lack nothing in His kingdom—we will let God have control in our lives. In letting go of our own agenda and putting God first, we will discover His spiritual mind of life and peace. We don’t have to scrounge and push and promote. We don’t have to prove ourselves. God approved of us in His Son. We can be at rest in who we are in Christ knowing that God will exalt us when His time is right.
Humility is absolute surrender. It seeks to exalt God just as Christ, humbly gave himself at no cost. When you have to prove your status——exalt your opinion—promote your own agenda—even demean yourself, you are not humbling yourself. There is a great cost. Those who don’t discover that the least is the greatest in God’s kingdom end up being humiliated in their striving to be first.
When you know others don’t need to validate you, you are at rest and peace in your relationship with Christ. You know who you are in Christ. Your least is His greatest.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
—James 4:10 (NKJV)
© 2021 Lynn Lacher