Long ago in the last century I heard a sermon with the premise of “the way up, is down.” The idea is that humility and servant hood is the way to be great. More and more I question the paradoxical idiom. Why? I think the most humble person is one who accepts how God made them, and leverages that to the best of their ability.
But didn’t Jesus say…
The Gospels talk about Jesus’ saying that the way to be first is to be a servant of all. The critical question Jesus is addressing is whom we are living for. Jesus served by fulfilling the mission the Father laid out. He didn’t lord of over people, though they could. Jesus aimed higher and lived to point people to the Father. You can be like Jesus. How can that be so?
God made us
Psalm 139 explicitly said that God made us, ordained our days, and knows us. We are not fearfully and wonderfully made by accident. God specifically and intentionally designed us for His good purpose and to reveal an aspect of who He is. When our focus is on doing what He called us to do, we demonstrate humility. The way up is up.
God empowered us
1 Corinthians 12 says that each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good of God’s family, the church. The Spirit chooses to empower each Christian uniquely to build up Christ’s Church. His active involvement in our lives allows us to accomplish God’s mission, if we don’t stifle it. The way up is up.
God sent us
Matthew 28 says that Jesus sent us out on a mission to share the good news of Jesus dying for us and in our place, once, for all sin. Jesus gave us a mission that is bigger than ourselves. With this mission comes the promise of His presence “and I will be with you until the end of the age.” The way up is up.
Leaders in Acts 6 said that it’s not good to serve by waiting on tables. This would neglect prayer and the Bible, the role that God called them too. They needed to lead and teach. This isn’t a lack of humility or servant hood, but doing what God made, empowered, and sent them to do. Leaders need to lead. Teachers must teach. The merciful must show mercy. We must be what God made, empowered, and sent us to be. The way up is up.
Being humble is to look up at and seek what God made, empowered, and sent us to be. When we accept who God made us to be, we reveal an aspect of who God is. That is what it means to glorify God. Humility and servant hood is not groveling, but a focus on the mission God gave us. When each one of us looks up to God’s mission for our lives, we the church build a mosaic that reveals who God is. The way up is up. Aim high and be the person God made you to be.