Jesus said, “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled.”
That’s certainly been true in my life.
You may remember a few years ago “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” came back for a limited run on prime-time television reincarnated as “Super Millionaire.” The top prize grew from $1 million to $10 million. Regis was the host, and the filming was in the same New York studio where the original show had been filmed.
One afternoon I got a phone call from Super Millionaire. It was an invitation – not to be on the show, but because I was a former contestant I was invited to be VIP audience member for a taping. I was a Very Important Person! Of course I agreed to go.
I invited my good friend Mike to go to New York along with me. On the appointed day, we ran late – I don’t remember why but I do remember that I wasn’t worried. I told Mike we could take our time. I was a VIP!
When we finally got the studio, there was long line already formed. No problem, I thought. I found someone who worked for the show, told him how I had the VIP invitation, and sort of indicated that surely the line wasn’t for someone like me.
The response from the Millionaire employee was this: “Get in line.”
So I did.
After about a half hour another ABC staffer came out and walked to about ten people in front of us in the line. He turned to address those of us behind. “After this point, you are not going to get in.”
I told Mike surely this was a mistake, after all I was a VIP. I made my way to the front of the line, looking for someone higher up the chain of command. I found a guy with a walkie talkie and told my story. “I got called, I’m a VIP.”
His arm swept the expanse of the line. “So are all these people.”
“But I won $125,000 on the show.”
“Congratulations,” he responded, clearly underwhelmed.
Mike and I got lost on our way back to Maryland when we got off the turnpike to find something to eat.
So I got all puffed up and then I got deflated. That’s what Jesus is warning about. Better not to get puffed up in the first place.
I was trying to impress Mike, and failed woefully. Who are you trying to impress?
It’s better not to try to impress anyone. Ultimately it’s only God’s opinion that counts. You think you’re going to impress the infinite, omniscient, omnipresent creator of the universe?
Christian humility isn’t comparing ourselves to anyone else . . . except Jesus – and we’re always going to come up on the short end of that comparison.
Why is humility important? Because it’s only by being realistically humble that we can acknowledge that everything that we are and everything that we have is a gift from God.
It’s only by being realistically humble that we can realize that our salvation is totally God’s gracious gift, because we don’t deserve it and can’t earn it.
And we can thank God we don’t have to.