Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-35; Psalm 80:1-19; Proverbs 12:27-28
I love how the Old Testament and the New Testament are tied together. I was particularly caught by the theme of humility and exaltation in both passages in today's reading.
First, in the Old Testament, we see God say to Joshua that he will "begin to exalt you [Joshua] in the eye of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses" (Josh. 3:7). God tells Joshua the miracle he is about to do (the parting of the Jordan), and Joshua believes him. Joshua believes God will do what he says he is going to do; his trust is an act of both faith and humility. And then God exalts his own name in the eyes of this next generation of Israelites. Every single one of the older generation, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, who watched God in a pillar of fire and walked across the parted waters of the Red Sea, has died. Now, this new generation is going to have a miraculous sea parting story of their own to hold on to that will remind them of God's power and glory and exaltation.
Second, we see these words of humility and exaltation in Jesus' teaching about not sitting in the place of highest honor at a table, but rather taking the lowest place. "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk. 14:11). Jesus then goes on to talk about how all the lowliest in the land will be invited to the "great banquet" while many of the upper crust of society will miss out. Jesus often takes what the Jewish culture considers to be the norm and switches it all around. He does that again here. He shows us what true humility looks like. It looks like carrying our crosses and following him, giving up everything (see Lk. 14:27, 33).
Yet how my flesh cries out against humility and self-surrender. How I long to be exalted in the eyes of men. I want to follow Jesus, but I also want to be significant and admired in the eyes of those around me. I'll follow him as long as I don't have to do anything crazy, or come off too much like a weirdo in the society around me, right? But then I read the words of Jesus in verse 34: "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?" Oh, Lord, help me to be salt and light to the world around me, to stand out. Help me to be different, like Joshua, committed to exalting your name and doing your work. No matter what the cost. I want to be a faithful and humble servant.
- Mary Matthias
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