He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
- Proverbs 3:34
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
- 1 Peter 5:5-7
“These verses [1 Peter 5:5-7] address three crucial realms related to true success: authority, attitude, and anxiety. The best part of all is this: Following God’s directives will bring the one benefit not found in the world’s empty promises: a deep sense of lasting satisfaction. It’s what we could call the forgotten side of success.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
Have you ever been in a situation where the boss puts you in charge before he leaves? There is a big project due by the time the boss returns. It’s going to take the entire department working together to pull it off. Just as the boss turns to leave, you say, “Okay, let’s get started.” Then everyone else laughs and makes their way to the breakroom.
Has that happened to you? What? Am I the only one?! Multiple times? Rats! I hate it when that happens.
When I was a young Army officer, I was taught that you never gave anyone the responsibility to do something without giving them the authority in which to get the job done. In the scenario that I just mentioned, I worked overtime and completed the project without any help from my VIP workmates. No, they weren’t Very Important Persons. Once the boss left, they were taking a Vacation In Place, meaning at the location of work, but not lifting a finger to do any work. While this happened throughout my career, there was one group that gave me full credit when the boss returned. As such, I gained the reputation of ‘miracle worker.’
My ‘miracle worker’ status always got me more work. For a while, this group was all in one big bullpen. I had a private corner, hidden by filing cabinets. Whenever a ‘customer’ (a manager, director, or superintendent from the department that we supported) came into the room with a request for a big job, the guy nearest the entrance to our bullpen would say, “Looks like you need a miracle, Sir.” They escorted the customer to my hiding place, while something cold crawled up my spine. The group had placed a plaque next to the entrance of my ‘cubicle’ – I had nothing to do with it. “Miracles while you wait, but the impossible takes a day or two.”
But that never got me success at all. It got me more work, a lot more work. Even if I got a promotion eventually, it would not be lasting success as Rev. Swindoll suggests.
In the verses that Rev. Swindoll is talking about, the word ‘humble’ is used more that ‘success’. Success is not mentioned at all. Rev. Swindoll goes on to state that we should submit ourselves to the higher authority (elders), respond humbly, and rely on God’s mercy and care. These three things boil down the verses from 1 Peter 5 quite well.
But in this fallen world, who gets the promotion, the “mark” of success? The one who is the opposite of humble. In my case, often, the one who brags about having guided and directed the project to its successful end – when the truth was that he or she made the greatest contribution to the project’s success by doing nothing. Come to think of it, that made him or her the perfect manager.
But what is God’s plan for each of us? Does it involve earthly success? Maybe, for a few. I can’t count that out. My only success was to be that indispensable aid that never got a pay raise – success in that I usually maintained employment, while the others got laid off.
No, God’s plan for each of us may be different here on earth, but His ultimate plan is for us to have success in the next life.
Hmmm. Jesus was the Son of Joseph, a builder. When we get together, oh, what mansions we will build.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.