These words come from a well-known story told by the Master Story Teller. They refer to a Wedding Feast, where guests reclined according to their honour and seniority. It would be foolish for one to plonk himself down next to the President, only to be told to move down. This would invite censure from other guests, and embarrassment to one’s self. However, by taking a lowly position, and waiting for the President to invite one to “Move up higher”, there would be a sense of elation. Such was the Master’s teaching about humility, not getting grandiose ideas about one’s own standing, importance or position in respect of the coming Kingdom of God. (Luke.14:8-10)
Paul reinforced this in his letters. The following quotes are taken from Weymouth’s New Testament.
1 Cor.4:3-5. “I am very little concerned at undergoing your scrutiny, or that of other men; in fact I do not even scrutinise myself. Though I am not conscious of having been in any way unfaithful, yet I do not for that reason stand acquitted; but He whose scrutiny I must undergo is the Lord. Therefore form no premature judgments, but wait until the Lord returns. He will both bring to light the secrets of darkness and will openly disclose the motives that have been in people’s hearts; and then the praise which each man deserves will come to him from God.”
Phil.3:12-15 “I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection. But I am pressing on, striving to lay hold of the prize for which also Christ has laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not imagine that I have already laid hold of it. But this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me, with my eyes fixed on the goal, I push on to secure the prize of God’s heavenward call in Christ Jesus. Therefore let all of us who are mature believers cherish these thoughts; and if in any respect you think differently, that also God will make clear to you.”[Written after some 24 years of knowing the Lord, and having completed four missionary journeys!]
2 Tim.1:12. “I am not ashamed, for I know in whom my trust reposes, and I am confident that He has it in His power to keep what I have entrusted to Him safe until that day.” Sounds like a “deposit account” in the bank. Likewise, in the parable of the talents, the Master says, “Well done, you good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I’ll make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” This shows that the Master will make the decision when He returns. It is up to pilgrims to remain faithful and true in the now season. The Lord is the Author and Finisher of our faith. It should not be necessary to point out this principle, summed up by our Lord as “Whoever uplifts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be uplifted.” (Luke 14.11)
The lesson should be self-evident to all those who have already been humbled by the revelation of their own sin, and the great cost of their salvation. But sadly this is not always so. The following quotation comes from the writings of a man whose spiritual position and teaching is highly regarded.
“These are truly wonderful days of heaven on earth. Many see only the outward – sin, crime, tyranny, calamities, and approaching sorrows of the “end-time”. But those who are quickened and have been raised up into the heavenly places are starting to speak out of the Holy of Holies. We are speaking from a realm above the problems, pressures, and sorrows of the natural realm. There was a time when God spoke through the prophets, but now He is speaking by His Son out of the new heavens and the new earth of the enchristed. It is becoming as the sound of many waters as the voice of the Son of God is raised up in a people in every nation, tribe, tongue, people, community and place throughout the earth. Let us continue tohear, believe, and speak in these days, for great and mighty things are being and shall be accomplished. Praise His name!”
I have valued this man’s ministry, and honour him as my brother in Christ, but the above paragraph doesn’t sit right when viewed alongside the Scriptures quoted. There was a time, many years ago, when as a “dispensationalist” I held similarly exalted views of my own position, but the Lord brought to my notice the folly of this attitude based on a mis-interpretation of certain passages of Scripture. We should all be prepared to sit at grass roots level with each other, until the Lord comes. We write these things, not in a spirit of contention or accusation, but as a gentle warning, knowing how glad the Evil One is to foster the spirit of pride within us. Brethren, to strive after the prize is one thing, but to assume that it is won is arrogance and spiritual pride.
“He that is down needs fear no fall,
He that is low no pride,
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.”
The Shepherd Boy’s Song in the Valley of Humiliation, from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.”