Water from the Well: September 20, 1995

Growing up in the country, we had a lot of lawn to mow. We only had two mowers--a new garden tractor with a mower, and an old push mower. For a while, whenever it was time for the lawn to be mowed, my brother would run out to the barn right away and start mowing with the garden tractor, leaving me to trudge behind the old push mower.

After a few months of this, I was very tired of always having to use the undesirable mower. Finally one day as my brother came riding by the window, my parents made him stop the garden tractor and take his turn at the push mower. After that, we always had to take turns using the better mower.

One day Jesus went to eat at the house of an important man. When he saw that the guests were grabbing for themselves the places of honor, he gave some wise advice: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited" (Luke 14:8). We all like to think that we are important people, more important than others. This can lead to some embarrasment, as Jesus explained: "If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place" (Luke 14:9).

It's human nature to think ourselves better than others and worthy of honor. In God's eyes, it just isn't true. In God's eyes every human being is sinful and disobedient and deserves not honor, but disgrace and punishment forever. Even that one act of thinking ourselves better than others shows our sinfulness, our unwillingness to place God and other people ahead of ourselves.

If we have any value in God's eyes at all, it is not because of worth or value in ourselves. Jesus is the only reason we can stand in God's sight at all. Jesus paid the price for our sins in full when he suffered and died on the cross. Through faith, God clothes us with Jesus holiness and sees not our filthy sinfulness, but rather Jesus' perfect obedience. Because of the willing sacrifice Jesus made to rescue us from the punishment for our sins, God promises us a place forever with him in heaven.

Christians recognize that they do have worth in God's eyes not because they try to obey his commands or because they give money to his church or because they are good citizens in their communities. Christians recognize that they can stand in God's sight only because of Jesus' incredible love for them, love which led him to the cross. Because of that, Christians gladly place God and others ahead of themselves. Christians gladly show love and humbleness to others because Jesus did the same for them first, as the Bible tells us: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). That saving love is the motivation for every act of Christian love and obedience.

Christians gladly recognize and acknowledge that any worth they have comes from God. Jesus pointed that out. He said, "But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:10-11). Christians don't seek honor in the eyes of God or any human being. Christians gladly and humbly serve God and their neighbor because Jesus has shown such great love and humility for them, and Christians look forward to the day when God himself honors them with a place in his heavenly kingdom.