Humility Before Honor
Luke 3:3-4 And [John the Baptist] went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins…saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.’”
Luke 3:16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.
Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
We rightly remember John the Baptist as the one sent to “prepare the way of the Lord.” He was the “voice in the wilderness” sent to get the Jewish people ready for the arrival and message of Jesus. We also rightly remember that he was direct, occasionally rough, and was nonconformist in life and word.
Part of the outrage of John’s work was his baptism. He was directing it at Jews, at a time when it was generally only for Gentiles converting to Judaism. For a Jew to be baptized took a great deal of spiritual humility, and an openness to God and His word that was uncommon in those days (and still is today).
John’s message was a call to repentance, which demanded humility. Yet John himself demonstrated his own personal humility in the midst of it. In referring to the coming Lamb of God, John said that he was not worthy to loosen His sandal strap. Loosening a sandal strap was the job of the lowest slave, and this is right where John was placing himself in relation to his cousin and Messiah Jesus.
Historically, we can easily see how John’s call to a spiritual awakening was a preparation for the ministry of Jesus. Can we also see it as a working principle for how God operates in nations, churches, and us as individuals? The two proverbs quoted above make it clear that when honor is in God’s plan for someone or some group, humility comes first.
Perhaps the Lord has honor prepared for you. If so, humility will have to come first. If so, remember that humility is not a knocking down for the sake of knocking down, but a preparation for the blessing of honor that is to come. The Jews couldn’t hear the word of the Lord through Jesus until they had heard, internalized and responded to John’s word. Then they had eyes to see and ears to hear who Jesus was and could receive His word. Without that humility, they would have seen and heard Him with their natural eyes and ears, but would have missed the blessing of knowing Who was in their midst, and the joys of receiving His message.
Prayer: Lord, may I humble myself in Your sight constantly. Yet when I need to be humbled, may I see it as preparation for receiving more of You, and perhaps, more from You.