This Way To Humble

[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Vance leads the Gentle Road Church of Christ in North Central Regina. He and his wife Lisa have two sons and a daughter.]

humbleIt was the spring of 2009.  I attended the Premier’s Dinner held in Regina, on behalf of the school I represented.  Tickets were $250 each, $2,000 for a table.  The Saskatchewan Party was recently elected and had declared the province open for business.  Ticket sales increased dramatically so they had to move the event from the Queensbury to the Conexus soccer facility – the largest sit-down event in the history of the province.  The day of the event, the sky was full of corporate jets flying in from Calgary – oil and gas executives eager to network in the “new Saskatchewan.”

When I arrived , the buzz in the room was palpable.  Energy was high, the premier was riding a wave of popularity, an entire province was aglow with success.  I purchased a single ticket and so was allocated a seat at the back of the room.  At the front, there were the tables of the official sponsors – the oil executives, the law firms, the accounting companies – all nestled close to the premier’s table.  Their company signs were prominently displayed on their tables, listed in the program, mentioned from the front.  Appropriate, given the amount of funds they paid for sponsorship.

As I sat in the back of the room, I couldn’t help but think about the irony of the situation.  Just outside the door, literally a stone’s throw away, were families living in North Central Regina, whom struggled with day-to-day living.  One family had a bad leak in their ceiling whenever it rained or the snow melted.  A single mom struggled to get enough coins to do laundry.  Several children attended our kids club wearing old, ragged, filthy clothes.  The juxtaposition was ironic – the wealthy and the poor, literally side by side, separated only by a steel wall of a soccer facility.  And yet worlds apart in terms of material resources.

As human beings, we are impressed by wealth, power and influence.  Those who can afford a corporate table and sponsorship at such an event are well-regarded in the community.   A part of me wished I was up there too.

But God looks at things differently.  He is not impressed by the same things we are.  God is impressed with humility.  Mary’s song in Luke 1 illustrates this well.  The reason that God chose her to be the mother of the Saviour was her humility: “for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1:48).  God did not choose a wealthy aristocratic woman, but a poor, inconspicuous woman to carry the Saviour in her womb.  And this is the great irony: Jesus cannot dwell where pride exists.  Only the humble, unassuming heart is an acceptable dwelling for the Saviour!

Mary goes on to contrast how God works among the humble and the proud:

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.

bowIronic, that God scatters the proud but lifts up the humble.  The most impressive thing about us to God is our assessment of ourselves, when we really don’t believe we have that much to offer.  God can work with that!  Pride?  Not much he can do with that.

This song not only celebrates God’s mighty work in Mary’s life, it also sets the theme for the entire gospel of Luke.  (See Luke 6:20-26; 14:12-14).  It is best summarized in 18:14: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who  humbles themselves will be exalted.”

So, what does God pleased to do with me?  Humble me, or lift me up?  Is he pleased for his son to dwell in my heart, or is there no room in this inn because pride has filled up every corner?

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