You are not as important as you think you are, but you were created for a purpose and are capable of far more than you realize. We tend to believe that we deserve certain things because of what we have done or that we are owed stuff because we are good people, good at our jobs, were raised a certain way, or because we have gone to college. The reality is though that what we truly deserve is not what we think we deserve and the purpose that we were created for is far greater than what we will ever accomplish in our own power.
Jesus, the greatest man who ever walked the earth, was fully God and fully man, yet “He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
Jesus, even though He was God, did not think of himself with a haughty attitude and instead chose to humble himself for the purpose that God had created Him for. He took on the position of a slave and even gave up his life for mankind. He understood that God had greater plans for him and that in order to fulfill those plans he had to humble himself before the Lord. Jesus followed what God had planned for His life and because He did He was exalted by God.
God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We too can achieve great things when we submit to God. In order to do so we are instructed, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:3-5).
We were not created to glorify ourselves which is what our natural inclination is to do. We strive for the approval of man and in doing so we seek to bring honor upon ourselves in the eyes of man rather than in the eyes of God. These two things do not have to be separate though. God’s desire is for us to humble ourselves and to think of others as greater than we are. We are told to not only look out for our own interests, but to instead take an interest in others.
This is quite contrary to what we typically see in the world, but think for a moment about the people that you have around you. Think about those whose main focus seems to be on themselves and how they can achieve great things versus those who seek to bring honor on those around them and would never take honor that was due someone else. Which person do you think is actually happier? Which person do you think has a more satisfying and full life, not just more money?
Jesus took caring for others to the extreme and in the end he willingly gave up his life for the lives of those who would believe in Him and follow him. He did it because the Father asked him to. It was not because he wanted to die, but rather He wanted us to live, in fact he begged the Father to let the cup of suffering pass that He was about to drink.
The book of Matthew recounts Jesus saying to His disciples that, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mt. 26:38). After expressing this to Peter, James, and John he prayed to the father and said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mt. 26:39). He then prayed the same prayer another time asking God to bring about the salvation of man another way. He did not want to suffer what He would soon suffer, He did not want to be tortured and killed, but He did! He trusted the Father and carried out God’s plan.
The book of Esther shares a story of a Jewish woman who found herself a part of King Xerxes’s harem and was eventually appointed as the queen. She had kept her family background and nationality a secret (Esther 2:20), even after being appointed as queen because the man who had raised her, Mordecai, had instructed her not to reveal her background and nationality.
During this time the king had promoted a man, Haman, to a position that placed him in the most powerful office in the empire (3:1). Everyone would bow down before Him except for Mordecai which made Haman mad. Haman had King Xerxes issue a decree that would allow for the murder of all the Jewish people in the land. Lots were cast to determine when this would happen and it was determined that it would take place on March 7th, which was almost a year away (3:7).
Eventually Mordecai asked Esther to do something to save the Jewish people, but she was scared. No one could approach the king unless they were summoned and she had not been summoned by the king for thirty days (4:11).
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent his reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And, then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Eventually Esther did approach King Xerxes and she was shown favor. It was revealed that Mordecai had once saved the king from an assassination attempt and that Haman was trying to have Mordecai impaled on a spear, so instead the king had Haman killed on that very spear. It was also revealed that Haman had an edict ordered that would have Queen Esther and all of her people killed. This edict could not be reversed, but the king allowed another edict to be sent out that allowed for the Jewish people to defend themselves against anyone who sought to harm them on the day in which they were to be killed.
God used Esther to save the Jewish people, but she had to humble herself before God. She was willing even to give up her own life if that is what it came to. After fasting and praying to God she was given a plan and God used her in a great way. If she had not humbled herself though she would have missed out on the opportunity to be used and as Mordecai had told her “deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place.”
Each of us were created for a purpose, even though our purpose may not require us to lay down our life in order to save someone it does require us to lay down our life and submit to the Lord. “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor” (Proverbs 29:23). God will honor us when we humble ourselves before Him and before others. It is not those who are prideful that receive the blessings of God, but it is those who are humble and grateful for all that the Lord has provided, so humble yourself before the Lord today and let Him reveal what your purpose is and guide you through a fulfilling life that honors both him and others.