Exalted By God
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
Being just before God begins with humility. True humility is a rare gem, is it not? In our verse for today, Jesus ends the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector with what I am sure was a big surprise ending for the Pharisee! Righteous in his own eyes, the Pharisee fell short of righteousness in God’s eyes. Scripture tells us:
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
“God opposes the proud. The word “opposes,” or “resists,” is antitassetai, a military term meaning “to battle against.” To the humble, however, God gives grace. Whether a believer is called to resist his human spirit which tends toward envy or to rejoice in the Holy Spirit who jealously yearns for each believer’s edification, the call is to shun pride and to submit humbly to God’s authority. The cure for conflict is a humble spirit which is rewarded by God’s unmerited favor.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
The good news is that as we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will lift us up. Peter tells us:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7)
God sees everything that happens to His children–every slight, every hurt, every misunderstanding! He knows every motive that prompts every action. He knows the heart through and through. This is why He tells us to leave revenge up to Him. He takes care of defending His own and He does it perfectly. We need not worry about our own defense.
-Thomas a Kempis
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. (Psalm 149:4)
Our troubles occur when we take measures into our own hands–making sure everyone knows how right we are! But Paul tells us in Romans:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Take It to Heart
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness; not health, but healing; not being but becoming; not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” (Martin Luther, “Defense and Explanation of All the Articles”, Luther’s Works)