What Kind of Person Does God Exalt?? #141
Happy Monday, Friends! I hope your celebration of the Lord’s Day Yesterday was deep and rich and meaningful! Today’s Bible readings include 6 chapters, so we’d better jump right into Numbers 27, Psalms 70-71, Isaiah 17-18 and 1 Peter 5, which is again, our focus passage. I’ve always liked 1st Peter!
Do you believe that God exalts people? When you consider that to exalt means, “hold (someone or something) in very high regard; think or speak very highly of, or raise to a higher rank or a position of greater power,” then the idea of God exalting anybody seems somewhat strange! Why would God exalt a mere human? Well it turns out that there is a certain type of person that God exalts, and that is the humble person. Think about that for a moment. God EXALTS the humble. We live in a world that exalts the proud, the arrogant, the rich, the beautiful, the highly skilled and the popular…but God doesn’t exalt any of those people – instead, He raises up and highly esteems the humble. Because that is such a foreign idea to western culture, I’d like to challenge us with a few passages of Scripture that demonstrate just how important it is for us to be people of humility:
“You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.” 2nd Samuel 22:28
“You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.” Psalms 18:27
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Psalms 25:9
“The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” Psalms 147:6
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalms 149:4
“He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” Proverbs 3:34
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12
“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4
“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” Luke 1:52
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
“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
So – why should we be humble? Because God EXALTS and BLESSES the humble, and raises up the humble…but also, our Master – the King of Kings – is also humble, and He set a great example for us:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Let’s close out with a great illustration and exhortation from Charles Spurgeon on humility:
Many years ago a certain prince visited the Spanish galleys, where a large number of convicts were confined, chained to their oars to toil on without relief—I think nearly all of them condemned to a life sentence. Being a great prince, the King of Spain told him that he might in honor of his visit set free anyone of the galley-slaves he chose. He went down among them to choose his man. He said to one, “Man, how did you come here?” He replied that false witnesses swore away his character. “Ah!” said the prince and passed on. He went to the next, who stated that he had done something that was wrong, certainly, but not very much, and that he never ought to have been condemned. “Ah!” said the prince, and again passed on. He went the round, and found that they were all good fellows—all convicted by mistake. At last he came to one who said, “You ask me why I came here. I am ashamed to say that I richly deserve it. I am guilty; I cannot for a moment say that I am not. And if I die at this oar, I thoroughly deserve the punishment. In fact, I think it a mercy that my life is spared me.” The prince stopped and said, “It is a pity that such a bad fellow as you should be placed amongst such a number of innocent people. I will set you free.”
My Lord Jesus Christ has come here at this time to set somebody free. He has come here at this time to pardon somebody’s sins. You who have no sins shall have no pardon. You good people shall die in your sins. But you guilty ones who humble yourselves under the hand of God, my Master thinks that it is a pity that you should be among these self-righteous people. So come right away and trust your Savior, and obtain life eternal through His precious blood.
The man who can preach without divine aid cannot preach at all. The woman who can teach a Bible class cannot teach a Bible class. Human ability without the grace of God is only puffed-up inability. Those of you who, apart from supernatural help, feel quite sufficient for any kind of holy service are miserably deluded. Self-sufficiency is inefficiency. The fullness of self is a double emptiness. He who has no sense of his weakness has a weakness in his sense. I believe that any man whom God uses for a great purpose will be so emptied out that he will wonder that God ever uses him in the least degree. He will be ready to hide his head and long to get out of public notice because he will feel himself to be utterly unworthy of the favor that God manifests toward him. I do not believe that God ever fills a cup that was not empty or that He ever fills a man’s mouth with His word while that man has his mouth full of his own words. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God
Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: 1 Peter, ed. Elliot Ritzema and Jessi Strong, Spurgeon Commentary Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), 1 Pe 5:6.