Humble Yourself like a Child to become Great in God’s Kingdom
“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 4
The life and actions of a true Christian should stand in stark contrast to the life and actions of the rest of the world. The differences between humility and pride should be one of the more noticeable areas of distinction. The Scriptures are clear that pride is a major evil that is present in this world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15 – 16
The root of pride in a person is the elevated view of their own self value and self worth, beyond their true value. Pride manifests itself when a person attempts to assert themselves based on this inflated self-view. The Scriptures warn us against such actions or attitudes:
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12: 3
Pride is often the root cause of jealousy and envy. For example, when someone is honored or rewarded but we think it should be us on the receiving end rather than them because we are more deserving, so we become envious or jealous, not recognizing that it is God who is in control of these circumstances. So we see then that pride is in contention with love:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; “ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5
We must be aware that this pride can enter into the body of Christ, as people carry over their prideful attitudes from the world without humbling themselves. Religious pride can be subtle and can take many forms. It is an age old problem though, and even the Lord Jesus rebuked the religious people of His time for their pride. In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, while harshly criticizing and rebuking the religious scribes and Pharisees, He says this about humility and pride:
“They do their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23: 5-12
Pride can potentially be manifested in any or all Christians, but it seems that those who enter into any type of leadership position are especially vulnerable. Perhaps the various positions and the associated titles that we have adopted in our current church structure are not what God has intended. My personal conviction is that there should not be titles for positions in the church. In the Scripture quoted above from Matthew 23, the Lord explicitly mentions the use of “rabbi” and “father” and “master”, but should we just limit the restriction to those three? Isn’t part of the problem that it feeds an unhealthy pride, not just the misrepresentation of the title (e.g. having only one Father in heaven and none to be address on earth)? I am convinced that this is so, and therefore I do not use titles when addressing other Christians. I have found that many are visibly upset when I don’t. It’s pride.
All true Christians should be working towards being humble servants towards one another. This is where true greatness in the kingdom of heaven lies, so it should be our goal. Don’t make it your goal to be elevated to some position with a title in the church, but rather, determine your gift to be used in the body and allow God to open the door for you to use this gift to serve others. The gift that you have will be something that you will be compelled or constrained to use, and God will open up a means for you to use it. Just make sure that your pride is not a part of the motivation. Be aware also that you can use this gift, and possibly even more effectively, without having a title associated with it.
There is a subtle point here that you may miss that I want to emphasize. The world may see humility as something nice to have and may even recognize it as a good quality in a person, but the Lord is not just saying that this is a nice thing to have, He is saying that this is the path to greatness in His kingdom. In other words, this is what we should set our sights upon and labor towards accomplishing.
Imagine a secular organization, and its leader speaking at a meeting with all members present, and using the humility of a small child as an illustration of how to be great within the organization. It would never happen, but this is what Jesus did! He is saying that humility is how you become great in His “organization”. Here’s the full context of the Scripture from Matthew 18 quoted at the start:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ and calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18: 1-4
I am certain that once we have passed on from this life to the next, we will be extremely happy if we have worked towards this greatness, but if we fail to do so, we will greatly regret it.
Yes, we must “humble ourselves”; it takes an effort on our part. We must identify and put to death any and every prideful thought. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and use your conscience to expose the flesh.
Humbling ourselves is intertwined with our walking in the spirit and our becoming more spiritual. As I stated above, humility is a part of love, and love is spiritual, therefore, all the things that aid in our becoming more spiritual will help with us becoming more humble. Set your mind on the things of the spirit, store up your treasures in heaven, place your total trust and confidence in God’s power, and be anxious for nothing.
One important point is that we recognize that when God uses us, we are merely a tool in His hands. All that is accomplished is done by Him, even more than we realize. We should recognize that it is God who will reward us; we should not be looking for recognition or rewards from other men. Knowing the reality that it is all of God and very little or us, will put us in our proper place. As we walk in the spirit, with our eyes seeing the role of God and His Spirit in the workings of our lives, and recognize His power and amazing abilities, then we can easily find our proper, humble place. Lord, please help us to do so.