The way to excel in the kingdom of God is through humility. This is another counter-intuitive principle of the kingdom that takes time to learn. God exalts the humble and brings down those who are proud.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Pastor John’s Notes:
Humility is self-knowledge. It is one of the early gifts of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are able to see ourselves as God sees us. This is unsettling at first because the Spirit sheds light on things we would rather keep hidden. But once we know that God does not wish to harm us but heal us, we can allow the Spirit to bring us to a place of true self-knowledge. Humility allows us to see things as they truly are and also allows us to make real progress toward a fully transformed life.
Lord, Teach me to humble myself before you that you might set me on a new path. Help me to know that I should not shy away from the pain of self-knowledge and humility, but rather embrace it. Show me what my sins are so that I might repent. Forgive me of my sins and set me on a new course.