God wants those who are humble, submissive, compliant with his ways, ready to do His will, not their own.
Is this always true? No exception. The way to higher Christian attainment is down the path of humility. It is the TEACHING of Jesus from beginning to end.
Matt. 23:12 12And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
It was the EXAMPLE of Jesus.
Luke 22:27 27For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
It was the ADVICE of Solomon:
Prov. 22:4 4By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life.
Prov. 18:12 12Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility.
Prov. 15:33 33The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
Is there any practical advantage in humility above pride? It is the difference between being teachable, and “know it all.”
Between being God honoring and self-admiring.
If you are looking for a physical reminder of this fact, just add a puppy to your family, and you will have it every day. We did this, and soon learned we were not doing it right. We were raising a little monster instead of the respectful, cooperative, protective little individual we thought she would be.
At the advice of the vet, we contracted with a behavior specialist, and soon learned that our happy puppy had no idea of submission. In her view, we were there too satisfy HER whims. Whatever she wanted, she could easily get. No idea of obedience. She had us “on the leash.”
Could the trainer’s advice change Prisca’s attitude? How would we know?
Very easy, said the trainer. Nose up, or nose down. Prisca would not even think of obeying our command until she was willing to recognize our authority. That nose had to come down. As long as her nose was up, her will was dominant.
As long as we were willing to accept her “nose up” behavior, there was no change. She would sit when she felt like it, obey when she felt like it, and run from us when she felt like it. It was always HER decision, not ours.
Can we see ourselves in our relationship with God? Isn’t this our natural way, with “nose up”—sometimes way up?
Don’t we find it written in Scripture:
Prov. 16:2 2All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.
Our friends may approve, our family may have approved, our boss may approve. But if God does not approve, if we are closing Him out and giving preference to OUR way, what can we expect Him to do for us? This means we are still “nose up” and enjoying it.
I can think of no better Scripture to go with this than the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. I’m sure you know which nose was up, and which was down. Let’s read the passage from Luke 18:
Luke 18:9–14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Right away we can see those Jesus is addressing the parable to: some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. Apparently they were all “nose up’s.”
Hence Jesus’ parable: Verse 10:
10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
What a “nose up” attitude. The Pharisee prayed “with himself,” not with God! He started out not with confession but with self-congratulation.
11 …‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men”
[That’s an easy list – I thank you God for all that I am NOT!]
—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
Did you see the Pharisee’s nose just go a little higher? Verse 12:
12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
The Pharisee’s short prayer “with himself” has four “I’s.” I-I-I-I.
Now what about the tax collector?
13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven,
Definitely “nose down”—he didn’t so much as raise his eyes to heaven, he felt so unworthy. Instead he
beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
He was praying for help, for a submissive, obedient, penitent spirit. Nose down, wanting to be submissive, wanting to be compliant and obedient, and wanting God to hear him, the publican prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
What is Jesus’ conclusion to the parable?
14I tell you, this man [the publican] went down to his house justified rather than the other;
“Nose down” came out ahead. The publican was submissive, humble, willing to see himself, and turn from his sins.
Hear Jesus’ conclusion: Verse 14,
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The way up is down. It is the path of humility. And what is humility? Is it being willing to be stepped on, to be “nobody,” giving up all goals and all initiative? Not at all.
Humility is a strong virtue, stronger than self-seeking and self-honoring.
Humility is a solid defense against sin. It shows us ourselves as we really are—not some fake, dream image but our real selves.
Humility is a defense which, strategically placed, will keep us submitting to the authority of Christ until we become LIKE Him..
Pride is self-defeating and debasing.
Gal. 6:3 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
This text is good in the New English Bible:
Gal. 6:3 3For if a man imagines himself to be somebody, when he is nothing, he is deluding himself.
Why delude ourselves and keep our nose up? We gain nothing by imagining we are what we’re not.
On the other hand, humility is an exalting virtue. Seeing ourselves honestly, it gives us the motivation to GET right and BE right with God. We admit when we are in the wrong, correct it, and, our nose down, we get God’s attention! Because we want to CHANGE. And we want God’s exaltation.
We can’t exalt ourselves. Only God can exalt, and He is looking for the humble ones to exalt. He is looking for qualities that most men of this world do not recognize. He does not even hear the Pharisee praying “with himself.” He is looking for the humble, nose down approach of the publican, who wants to repent and turn and get God’s mercy. That is NOT the natural way; it is NOT the way of this world.
Jesus stated the same principle again in Luke 16:15.
Luke 16:15 15And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
What is “highly esteemed among men”? Nose way up! – but it “is abomination in the sight of God.”
What might people like to see in us? Watch out if it be our pleasantry, our lightness, or our familiarity with subjects that are of no spiritual value. These may be “nose up” items in this world, but they have only negative value if they take us down in the esteem of God.
We may feel good for the moment because we have man’s, but it is the way to DEATH, not LIFE.
And what is the gain, if we win the world (nose up) to our fellow men, or nose down before God?
Let’s thank God for everything that brings our nose down—so that looking up we get God’s smile of approval.
Because we regard HIS honor and glory and authority above everything else.