Intro: Humility [associated with meekness] is a very tough attitude to champion in this self-centered world. Everything about this world screams, “Think about yourself first!” If we lack spiritually humility, we are arrogant and prideful; things that are certainly not birthed of the Holy Spirit.
In our passage today, the disciples are intently focused on their status; they want important positions in God’s kingdom. Jesus quickly addresses the disciples question, by pointing to the importance of spiritual humility. He uses hyperbole [exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally] to get the disciples’ attention and to convey how strongly God feels about an attitude of humility.
Sometimes we forget that Jesus humbled (emptied) himself of his divine standing and glory in order to take on flesh and come to earth as God’s Suffering Servant to save us [Phil 2:7]. It only makes sense that we must humble ourselves as Christ’s servants; we are not above our Master [Mat 10:24]. What happens to the spiritually arrogant people and false teachers who diminish God’s children [those who are actually trusting, humble, and forgiving] and tempt them to sin against the truth? Jesus states the fires of hell will be awaiting them [Mat 18:9; Rev 14:11]. I know many people do not want to believe hell is a real place, but when Jesus [Truth] refers to it as a place of eternal torment, we better pay attention!
As I was reading today, I noticed several articles about developing humility, so I invested time in pondering them. Some of the advice I decided to restate and compile for our consideration: 1) Spend time really listening to others; 2) ask for help when you need it; 3) seek to add value to others; 4) take responsibility for your actions and failures; 5) admit you don’t have all the answers or have your life all fixed. If there is anything that will stand in our way of spiritual victory, it is arrogance. So, may God help us think about Christ’s example and empower us to take a humble posture with others each day.
Matthew 18:1-9 The Greatest in the Kingdom
1 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. 8 So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your humble example and the power of the Spirit who helps us guard our hearts against spiritual pride. May we be trusting, humble, and forgiving children of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.