The Attitude of Jesus.
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11 NLT
One of the amazing things about Jesus was that His message and His lifestyle were never out of step. He lived what He taught. It is easy to say one thing and do another, which is one of the primary characteristics of hypocrisy. But hypocrisy was never something with which Jesus wrestled. He was not someone who sought out the places of honor. He was not one who craved recognition or sought the affirmation of men. Yes, He longed for men to recognize His status as the Son of God, but not for selfish reasons. He simply wanted them to see Him for who He was in order that they might experience all that He came to offer. No, Jesus was anything but selfish and self-centered. So when He spoke about humility, He knew what He was talking about. He lived it. The apostle Paul reminds us, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:5-7 NLT). Jesus didn’t pridefully hold onto His well-deserved place as the Son of God, and refuse to lower Himself to human standards. No, He willfully walked away from His position of privilege and power, and took on the lowly character of a man – a baby in fact. All so that He could serve mankind by giving His life in our place.
So when Jesus gives the people at this dinner who are jockeying for positions of prominence a piece of advice, He speaks from experience. He tells them, “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!” (Luke 14:8-9 NLT). Instead, Jesus recommends that they take the lowest seat at the foot of the table. Practice a little self-humility. Rather than risk being humiliated, humble yourself. Of course, Jesus is talking about much more than just an earthly wedding feast. He is talking about the Kingdom of God. Those who enter into God’s Kingdom will be characterized by the nature of Jesus Himself. They will be humble, not prideful. They will have spent their lives seeking first the Kingdom of God and leaving issues of honor, recognition, and reward up to Him.
Over in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made some significant statements regarding rewards and recognition. He said, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get” (Matthew 6:1-2 NLT). In other words, their reward will be the recognition they get on this earth. It won’t last long. But if you give in secret, not worrying about what men think, God will see it and reward you richly in His Kingdom. Jesus also said, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get” (Matthew 6:5 NLT). The praise of man is the only reward they will get. But those who pray to God in private, so that no one can see them or pat them on the back for their spirituality, will be rewarded by God Himself.
It is so easy to seek recognition and to crave reward for our service in this lifetime. But it doesn’t last. It is fleeting, fickle and short-lived. If we seek the praise of men, we are missing the point. Jesus didn’t come to receive praise. He didn’t come to receive honor. He came to humble Himself and serve. He came to give His life as a ransom for the sins of men. He came to die on a cross so that we might live. He healed the lame, the blind, and the sick, knowing that He would receive ridicule and not reward. He spoke the truth of God, knowing that most would reject it angrily, not receive it gladly. He came to hang on a cross, not sit on a throne. He came to wear a crown of thorns, not one made of gold. He came to die a criminal’s death, not live a king’s life. And yet, Paul reminds us that God saw the actions and attitude of His Son and rewarded Him accordingly. “When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,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 2:7-11 NLT). The attitude of Jesus should be the standard for every believer. An attitude marked by service and humility, obedient to the will of God and focused on the Kingdom of God to come.
Father, help me to seek the attitude of Jesus. Open my eyes and help me see the pride that permeates my life. It is so easy to become a seeker of rewards in this lifetime. I find it so easy to want my rewards now, rather than later. The praise and recognition of men can be an alluring thing. But it breeds hypocrisy and feeds the dragon of pride in my life. Yet You reward the humble. You exalt the lowly. You oppose the proud and favor the humble. Never let me forget that. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men