Lenten Reader -- Day 30
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8-11) ----------
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)
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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Jesus was criticized, rejected, slandered, misunderstood, plotted against, betrayed, denied, and abused by his family, friends and disciples, Jewish religious leaders and the Romans. He chose identification with sinners and lived in poverty and obscurity for most of his 33 years. As his ministry progressed, Jesus faced increasing levels of hostility and opposition. Yet, in spite of all this, he knew who and whose he was, and his relationship with the Father gave him the power and security to love and serve others.
He could not have done this if he had allowed himself to be defined and bound by the opinions of those around Him. But he did not.
The humility of Jesus Christ was an extraordinary reflection of an absolute dependence on and submission to God. We see this in his baptism. As Jesus submits to the baptism of John, a dove descends. Doves were the sacrifice poor people offered. Jesus identifies with the poor, the lowly, the outcast.
For us, humility is the mark of true repentance, evidence of a transformed life. Our flesh and our pride chafe against humility, so we are forced to learn it through suffering, forgiving those who wrong us and seeing these incidents as opportunities to grow. As we do, we begin to see in ourselves a teachable spirit, a willingness to seek wise counsel and submission to authority.
As we join John the Baptist in saying, “He must decrease, and I must increase,” we learn the wisdom of humility and stand in awe of our Lord’s amazing condescension.
God of heaven and earth, you dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit. I ask for the grace of true contrition so that I would humble myself under you almighty hand and put no confidence in the flesh. Keep me from the self-deception and rationalization that would make me think more highly of myself than I ought. I acknowledge that you know all my thoughts and motives even more fully than I can know them. Even my best deeds can be tainted with the selfish desire for recognition and applause. But as I learn to make you my audience instead of playing to an audience of many, there is no place for pretense or hiding or posturing. All things are open and laid bare before you eyes, and only your assessment will matter in the end. Amen.