Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Humility includes knowing one's place. Sometimes our culture laughs at the idea that we even have a place. I agree that a person's place is not determined by one's race, a horrible mistake that has historically been made. However, the mistakes of the past should not cause us to erase legitimate distinctions that time and circumstance demand of us. As believers, we do not always have to demand our rights, nor should we. Today's message deals with the delicate subject of humility and knowing one's place.
Before we introduce and comment on our focus text, we invite your attention to a parable which Jesus told. “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14.8-11). Humility and self-exaltation are direct opposites. Those who exalt themselves do not know their place.
John, the forerunner of Jesus, knew his place. When approached by those who perhaps desired to exalt him above his place, “...John answered and said, 'A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.'” (John 3.27-30). John clearly demonstrated that he understood his purpose in life and fully intended to stay within those boundaries. Even when others might have promoted him, he looked for the place God would have him rather than the place others desired for him.
Among those who seek the good of humanity, there simply is no place for arrogance. Anything that can be obtained through arrogance can be better obtained without it – or it simply shouldn't be obtained. I thank many of my childhood mentors for trying to teach me that lesson. High school and university coaches used to know this lesson, but seemingly many have forgotten it. I actually can remember the time that athletes who did not understand the value of teamwork simply did not play. Humility and sportsmanship came before winning! I know that is an antiquated idea, but it is still right. Knowing one's place on a team means that no player can rise above the shoulders of those who support him/her.
The same is true in life. No man is an island and every man who has any modicum of humility knows that. It has been said that behind every successful man is a successful woman. To a large measure this is true, but more realistically it can be said that behind every successful man is a host of successful supporters who have nurtured him to his place of prominence. The real heroes of life are those who never cross the finish line first, or who never hit a shot at the buzzer, or who have never caught the game winning pass. They have a place, they know their place, and they fill it with excellence and humility.
Jesus Christ is our greatest example of humility. Show me one time that He ever demonstrated the trait of arrogance and this article is meaningless. However, as one who has read the Book, I know that He knew His place and executed His roles with the greatest possible humility. He must increase!
1. Who or what determines our place in life? What trait or characteristic must not determine our place in life?
2. Did Jesus have a place in life? Did it require Him to demand His rights at all times? Did it require Him to yield His rights at times?
3. Is there truly any such thing as a self-made man? Why or why not
4. What is the first step in everyone's life in determining his/her place in life?
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