We, as human beings, want to be treated like we are the greatest people ever. In our own sinful, selfish nature, we naturally want to put ourselves before others, be taken care of first, put everyone else second. We say “my life is about ME, ME, ME.” In our walk with Christ, our own evil heart wants to be the center of attention, we want to make decisions for OUR lives, we don’t want Jesus to make them for us. WE want to lead. WE always have the answers.
But that’s an interesting paradox when it comes to living for Jesus:
“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:26-28
We must put ourselves last to become first. To Christ, humility shows much greater strength and deserves much more honor than pride does. A proud man in God’s sight is a wicked man, he is about himself, not concerned with the wellbeing of others, so long as he gets what he desires.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11
So essentially, because Christ, who in his nature is God, decided to humble himself and be a servant and serve others, rather than trying to be equal with God the Father, God made him the greatest person, ruling over all the others. Because of his complete humility and obedience and willingness to be beneath others, God honored him and gave him glory and gave him everything.
Strange paradox, but true. When we fight the desire in our heart to be first, and instead truly desire to serve others, help them when they are in need, show them how to live upright lives for God, and take care of their needs before we worry about our own, God will take care of us. When we make ourselves like nothing, we will bring him glory and he will honor us, and we will be the most blessed.
It’s because God admires humility so much. When we put others first, he puts us first. He loves humility because when we are humble, he really gets to be in charge of our lives, and we help others more, love others more, are more compassionate, caring, and we can change the world with such love. Humility means we stop being arrogant and recognize that others have needs, too. We serve others, and these other people we serve are God’s children, and he sees how we help them. To become great in God’s sight, we have to become less. We have to be second, instead of being first.
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5
Jesus was abused, cursed at, spit on, died on a cross for us. He was obedient to his father to the point of death. He could have called angels to kill all the people who hurt him, who caused him nothing but pain and misery. He is God! But he did not. He loved them, he still prayed for them, still died for them. Humility. Serving others. Obedient. And God sees his son denying himself for the sake of others, and now Jesus is the greatest one ever, and it is impossible to get to heaven with out him. He is the greatest one in our lives, the most important, most significant.
When you want a position like that, and you aim for that, being proud and depending on yourself and being all about yourself, trying to exalt yourself, God makes you last and the least among men, and you will never achieve such greatness.
A lot of people don’t understand the paradox. When others are trying to make their names great, they get caught up in sin and really aren’t great. When I am trying to make Jesus’s name great, and I am serving others for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, he sees that, and I will achieve more than the selfish person.
Embrace the paradox. Or face the frustration of constantly trying to succeed and only finding failure. Make Jesus’s name greater. When it comes to yourself, become less.