Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

A Call For Humility

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

17th July 2011

Back in the Cold War era, when Leonid Brezhnev was still running things in the Soviet Union, Time Magazine would try to figure out who was next in line to succeed him. Since the Soviets weren't too keen on letting out the secret, the analysts at Time would watch where Politburo members stood on Kremlin wall overlooking Red Square during important events, like a May Day review of the troops.

The assumption was that the closer you stood to Brezhnev, the closer you were to the top of the list. If you’d moved down a few spaces, well obviously you were on the way out of favour.

No doubt there would have been plenty of jockeying for position on the wall.

Interestingly Proverbs 25:6-7 says,

‘Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles…’

According to Luke, one day a wealthy Pharisee invited Jesus to his house for lunch. When Jesus arrived, he noticed the other guests were jockeying for the best seats. Everyone was trying to find a seat at the head table, and thereby avoid sitting in a lower position.

Jesus’ comment about this jockeying is reminiscent of Proverbs 25.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8–11)

Of course, Jesus isn’t in the business of offering advice on social graces. He isn’t interested in helping people climb the social or corporate ladder. Jesus isn’t a self-improvement teacher.

Rather Jesus has something else in mind. He is calling for humility, because God isn’t all that concerned about our social status.

In the kingdom of God the rules in life get reversed and turned upside down. What you think should be true in life, may not be as true as you’ve been led to believe.

The rules of etiquette get turned on their head, because, as Jesus says: "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

This is a difficult concept to get our heads around, because we’ve so often been taught that if we’re going to succeed in life we have to promote ourselves.

In our world, self-promotion is the name of the game. If you’re going to succeed in life, you have to market yourself. Because, if you don’t "look out for number 1,” then nobody will!

But Jesus has a different take on things. In telling his parable, Jesus reminds us that God is the one who humbles and who exalts. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, it is God who reverses the expected order of human relationships. That means, the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

As we hear Jesus’ observation we would be well served to remember that in the kingdom of God humility is highly regarded instead of concern about our own social standing.

Then guess what? We will be exalted to stand at the right hand of God with our elder brother, Jesus the Risen One!

Have a humble week.

Pastor Barry

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