Top or Bottom?
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:4-8
The Messiah was foretold to be “precious” to those who believe and “a rock of offence” to those who make the choice to defy and deny God’s only Savior, Jesus Christ.
“And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Isaiah 8:14
The Son of God, the very One who is the prophesied Messiah in the above passage, taught the essential necessity of utter humility in the lives of all who will know and walk with Him.
“And (the false religionists, Pharisees) love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:6-12
The Jewish Messiah came in a humble fashion, as a Lamb when they expected Him to come the first time to destroy their enemies with physical force. If I am following the Messiah, He is my Master and I am becoming more and more of a servant as He was (Philippians 2). When He promotes me it is for the purpose of exalting and serving Him and His people in a greater fashion, not to be exalted in the sight of men (Ps. 75:5-6). If I am to “grow in grace” it is in order that I may know and love Him more and in order to serve His people more fully (2 Pet. 1:2, 3:18).
This short life is not the occasion to be exalted among men, but rather to exalt the only One worthy to be exalted.
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32
Yes, I know He is speaking of His own death to save us and yet I must take liberty to ask: are we lifting Him up? One of the clearest ways we lift up the Savior, is to lift up His will, which is His Word, by doing it. In this and through this men will see His goodness in you and glorify your Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:16).
Where are my motives in serving God? Why do I want to be in leadership in the Body of Christ? Why do I want to sing in the choir, preach, teach Sunday School, greet, write a book, have a ministry, etc.? Is it to be seen of men like the religious hypocrites of Christ’s day? Or, is it to lift up the downtrodden, see God heal the brokenhearted, give hope to the hopeless, and exalt the King of all kings? Is this not why Christ came? (Luke 4:18; Jn. 12:32; Col. 1:17-19)
Christ is to be magnified in all things in the lives of those whom He has redeemed:
“Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” Philippians 1:20
Please read the following words carefully and prayerfully. These are not the words of any mere man. These are the words of the Alpha and the Omega, the One who spoke the worlds into existence and now upholds them by the very word He spoke when He created all things. Jesus Christ is the One who created, sustains, and owns all things, yet came to this earth to serve us (John 1:10). The text below is paramount to understanding and walking in your God-given purpose in this life as you follow Christ in what He did in His time here on the earth, as He showed us the Father (Jn. 14:9).
“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:20-28
Jesus came to serve us and commanded us to do what He did – serve others.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5
BELOVED, WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?
If you have anything good about you at all, God is to be blamed (Rom. 3:10; 7:18). Every good and perfect gift originates from Him, and not from us (James 1:17). We have no existence without Him who is our life.
Take a look at what Paul says about the giftings we have all been given on loan:
“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory (boast), as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
If we have been given something, that means it didn’t originate with us. Right? It also means that God gave the gift(s) to us to serve others, not just ourselves (1 Pet. 4:10-11). So, why do we arrogantly boast in our hearts as if we are better than others because of something God Himself gave us? Rather we should be using those gifts to serve His people (1 Peter 4:10-11).
“For who maketh thee to differ from another? What hast thou that thou didst not receive? If thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory (boast), as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
We don’t own the giftings resident in our lives. These inherent gifts are merely on loan to us from the LORD. Each of us are responsible to God for the stewardship of these tools of service and will one day give account for how we chose to use them. Am I using them to serve Him and His people? Or, am I utilizing His gifts in me to glorify my own name?
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister (use in service) the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
The crucified life will bring about the producing of His good fruit in us and the fruitful use of the gifts He placed in each of us (Rom. 1:11; Phil. 2:3-5).
More questions from God:
“Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.” Isaiah 10:15
GOD HATES ARROGANCE
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” 1 Samuel 2:3
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Isaiah 13:11
It is abundantly clear in the aforementioned verses of Scripture that the LORD will humble those who refuse to humble themselves. He also stated:
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth (sets Himself against) the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6
The prideful heart is a deceived heart:
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Galatians 6:3
THE CURE FOR ARROGANCE
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
O that God would place in us the fleshly heart of a true servant who serves Him and others regardless of whether or not any man is looking or that he receives any reward on this earth.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
God did “predestinate [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son.” You might respond to this Scriptural truth by asking “Okay, what does it mean to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ the Son of God?” Here is God’s answer:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
Unlike Christ, many today want to be somebody who is known and elevated among men in this fleeting life. Many of those in places of leadership today act as if they are God’s gift to the world instead of possessing the heart posture of a humble servant. They are not dead to self and therefore not “alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:11) These are those “whose god is their belly (sinful appetites).” (Phil. 3:17-21) They are “enemies of the cross of Christ” – they are not dying to the sinful nature and therefore desire to be exalted amidst God’s people. Many in leadership make a “vain show” or “fair show in the flesh.” (Ps. 39:5-6; Gal. 6:12) They reign as kings in the midst of the people. These serve themselves as they build their own kingdoms upon the sand foundation of depraved and finite self, and miss the unspeakable joy and opportunity to build upon the Rock of salvation Himself, the only real and eternal “foundation…which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11) In doing this, they are leading “many” astray as Christ promised the “false prophets” would do in the last days (Matt. 25:3-5; 11, 24)
In stark contrast to those who seek their own glory, the very Creator and King of all kings Himself came to earth and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” (Phil. 2)
Serving self in the midst of a ministry leadership role can be so very subtle. Most who engage in such don’t even realize it because the sin of pride and arrogancy blind the heart and mind (Heb. 3:13). They are fully responsible for this sin because God commands all who will be His to humble themselves in His holy sight.
Overseers have the responsibility of being servant-leaders among God’s people. This is their calling:
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
Friend, where are we allowing ourselves to be led? The Word tells us that “the leaders of this people cause them to err and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isa. 9:16) We are also warned not to be “led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Pet. 3:17) Just as Jesus and His holy apostles and prophets foretold, blind leaders are leading to damnation millions who believe they are following Christ (Matt. 24:3-5, 11, 24; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:13; 4:2-5; 1 Jn. 4:1-3).
There are several people revealed in the Bible who started off right in their leadership calling, yet ended up destroyed. These are apostates. Remember Saul, Lot’s wife, and Judas? These all have one thing in common – pride, rebellion, and arrogance. These were people who were in God’s grace and anointed for leadership by Him, but refused to remain humbled before His presence. This tragedy is the same thing we see happening today among many who now occupy leadership positions within the visible church world at large. They hold and have remained in leadership positions while they have departed “from the faith.” (1 Tim. 4:1-3) The Bible foretold that in the final days some would “depart from the faith” not the pulpit (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
According to the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul, one must “keep under” his body – the sinful nature – if he will prevent becoming ultimately “castaway” from the LORD eternally (1 Cor. 9:27).
“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21:44
Did you catch that?! Will you humble yourself or will God have to humble you eternally by confining your conscious soul to hell? Will you be voluntarily broken before God, or in judgment be crushed to fine powder (destroyed)? God never fails – the choice lies in the individual (Lk. 21:19, 34-36; 2 Tim. 2:11-13). One will choose to willingly and obediently fall upon the Rock of all ages and be broken, or, he will soon be crushed to powder by the Lion of Judah in His retribution of all rebellious souls (Amos 9:10; Isa. 1:19-20; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:12-16).
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10
—- THE MORE we grow in His grace, the more we will realize how nothing we are and how everything He is! …… THE STONE: Top or Bottom? … Will you willingly repent, humble yourself, and put all your faith in Jesus Christ, OR will you be ground to powder?
Prayer for the Humility of Christ
O Father, please remove every trace of self-glorification and arrogance from my being. Let not my left hand know what my right hand is doing. This moment I choose to humble myself under Your mighty hand and to realize I am nothing and can do nothing without You Jesus. LORD, thank You for Your example. Please teach me to know You in true humility as I serve Your precious people and the lost souls You were crucified to save. LORD, I now present my body a living sacrifice to Thee. Please grant my heart grace to walk in divine grace and inspired humility that I may be well pleasing in Thy site this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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