Jesus stated very simply: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Jesus spoke these words when describing the actions of the Pharisees with whom He often clashed. They loved the praise of men, they loved the recognition on the streets of Jerusalem, they loved the power that their position seemingly gave to them. However, in making this statement, Jesus was letting them, His disciples and the multitudes know that you just cannot barge through the pearly gates.
The Christian life is not one to be lived out loud, so to speak, at the top of your lungs. It is not to be foisted upon the masses by coercion. Foy E. Wallace once related that when he went to a town to hold a meeting the preacher there said he boasted that he went through town with a loud speaker attached to his car and preached to all within ear shod. Brother Wallace said, “I told him as lovingly as I was old that he was a public nuisance.” The gospel is spread not by coercion but by persuasion. Paul wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Cor. 5:11). It is not brashness but meekness that wins souls to Christ.
It takes humility to become a faithful Christian. It takes humility to realize that you are a sinner. Paul said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Paul had to humble and abase himself before the Lord and acknowledge that he, himself, was the chief of sinners (I Tim. 1:15). Previously, he had thought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:9). But when the Lord told appeared to him and said “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” he humbly responded, “Lord, what would thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6).
The Lord’s church could do with a bit more humility in some quarters. It could do with more humility starting with her preachers. Some preachers think too highly of themselves and like Diotrephes of old they want to have the pre-emminence (III John 9). They think more of getting a name for themselves than of preaching the gospel. All too often, doctrinal accuracy is forfeited in favor of showmanship. Paul warned young Timothy to war a good warfare with a good conscience (I Tim. 1:18,19).
Because of their position of leadership and authority, elders also need to be humble. Paul warned Timothy that elders should be mature enough not be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (I Tim. 3:7). Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus that he had served the Lord with all humility of mind and warned them that from among their midst some would arise, speaking perverse things and drawing away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:19,29,30).
Christians in general should live quiet and peacable lives for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God (I Tim. 2:3,4). Christian men should be holy and Christian women ought to conduct themselves modestly (I Tim. 2:8,9). God resists the proud but gives grace unto the humble (James 4:6). “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
Eric L. Padgett