But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 14:10-11
One time in college, a friend of mine wanted to go canoeing at the lake. I had never been but I just figured it was the same as a row boat, only skinnier. So we went to the rental shack, paid our deposit, and went down to the dock. What happened next was the stuff that winds up on America’s Funniest Videos or goes viral on social media. As I went to get in the canoe, it started drifting away from the dock. Not wanting it to get away, I lunged into the canoe but my momentum had me going over the other side; I fell into the lake and flipped the canoe over in the process!
Let’s face it: it’s humiliating to fail. From tripping over one of those invisible obstacles in the sidewalk in front of a few strangers to missing a game-winning free throw in front of hundreds of (former) fans, failure makes you feel and look bad. But all is not lost. Nope, the power of failure for the believer is actually found in the humiliation that comes from it. For the believer, the act of being humiliated is really just about finding the ability to look at your life from God’s perspective and not your own. Humility is the opposite of pride. And while humility is the foundation of all righteousness, pride is the root of all sin. Pride says, “I can do it on my own. I don’t need God. I am important. I am more necessary than you can imagine—even irreplaceable.” Pride leads angels to challenge God to a duel. It leads humans to want to have thousands of online friends, followers, and fans. And it keeps you from getting over the stuff in your life that you need to get over.
But humility is the opposite of pride and sets you free to worship the Creator instead of his creation. In humility you find strength in your weakness and hope in your failure. While failure can hurt for a moment, it also helps us look to Jesus who humbled himself for us. The quickest way to move on and grow from humiliation is to agree that you’re not perfect and thank God for his perfect Son.
Questions to ponder
What is an embarrassing moment that happened to you where you felt humiliated?
One way to think of humiliation is experiencing humility that you weren’t expecting. What are the things in which you most fear failing?
What is one way you can be last today that will show thankfulness to another person? Ask God for opportunities to humble yourself and be last today.