Have you ever tried to be humble? A person who brags about having achieved humility probably hasn’t. Maybe that’s why Jesus doesn’t say to his disciples in his criticism of religious leaders, “Don’t be like them. Humble yourselves.” He speaks of humility as something done to you rather than by you.
Have a problem with pride? Have an exalted opinion of your abilities? Try being a leader in Jesus’ name, and God will fix that. You will be humbled.
The day I was exalted as a bishop, a wise bishop told me, “This job will force you to your knees.” Earlier, I had interviewed retired bishops, asking them to characterize the episcopacy. Their main response: Powerlessness.
“As a bishop, you have a front-row seat to see the problems and failures of the church, but the rules and procedures mandated by The Book of Discipline, competing caucuses, uncooperative clergy, and reactionary laity tie your hands,” one explained.
How ironic that those to whom the church has given the most power are humbled by their impotence.
Maybe my question ought not be, “What can I do to be more successful, effective, and powerful?” Rather, “Have I been so infrequently humbled because I’ve attempted too little in the name of Jesus?” Or, “How have my leadership failures shown that I may be faithful to Jesus?”
Jesus promises, “Follow me; attempt to teach, to lead, or to love in my name and I promise: You will be humbled.”
This is good news for those who hope to align our lives with the One who taught his followers, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”
Lord, humble me by giving me tasks that remind me of my limits and my need for your grace. Amen.
The texts remind us that human decisions, relationships, communities must be rooted in the reality of God. In his vision recorded in Revelation, John sees all communities, all nations, shouting before God’s throne that salvation comes only from God. The story of the crossing of the Jordan in Joshua 3 illustrates this principle: apart from Yahweh’s grace, Israel’s life could not be sustained. Paul does not deny an authority due him because of his previous relations with the Thessalonians. At the same time, he can reverse the image and speak of himself as an orphan when separated from these people (2:17). The possibility of mutuality emerges out of a clear acceptance of the authority of the gospel. The scribes and Pharisees are singled out in Matthew 23 for aunting their positions and for engaging in pious activity so as to be praised and courted by others. Their craving of honorific titles illustrates their failure to acknowledge the empowerment of Jesus as teacher and God as Father.
• Read Joshua 3:7-17. What miracles have you seen God perform lately in your life? in the life of a friend?
• Read Revelation 7:9-17. How do you reconcile a God of judgment with the writer’s statement that “God will settle for nothing less than a standing-room-only heaven”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13. How is the word of God at work in you?
• Read Matthew 23:1-12. When have you been humbled in being faithful to Jesus’ call on your life? Is being humbled a sign of true servanthood?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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