Luke 3:1-20; Ezekiel 40-41; Isaiah 62
The limelight is a dangerous thing. Once you get the fame for doing something, it’s often hard to know that your time is over. How many sports stars who were legendary tried to do just one more year? How many fading actors and actresses have taken roles that they could no longer do? In the years when these stars of sports, stage and screen should have taken a supporting role, they tried to hang onto their starring positions and ended up looking bad. The key to keeping the right perspective in dealing with fame is to recognize that God is the source of all fame and keep focused on His leadership.
John, the cousin of Jesus, the one we know as the Baptist had a big following. People were coming from all over Jerusalem to hear him preach. Saint and sinner, young and old, Roman and Jew all went out to the Jordan to listen to him preach. The strange thing is that John didn’t have any self-help books to sell. He didn’t want to make people feel good about themselves. He had one message: repent for the Savior is about to come. Everything he preached and taught was based on that truth. He wasn’t soft and easy with the people – calling them a “brood of vipers” at one point. I wonder if people just took it as what John said to the other guys. Still, the people flocked to him. And as they flocked to him, the rumors began. The questions started as all Israel began to get excited. Could this be the Messiah that they had awaited? John quashed that growing belief, but left them hope: “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’” It’s so easy for anyone, even God’s messengers to begin to believe that they are more than they really are. If John hadn’t been in a constant relationship with God, it would have been easy for him to get a big head and think that he was God’s chosen one. Instead, even the crowds could not vanquish his humility and he continued to point them to the coming Messiah.
Every once in a while…ok, probably more than that…I get lost in what I think I’m doing and I lose that sense of humility that God has blessed me with. I begin to “think more highly of myself than I ought,” as Paul put it. It usually doesn’t get too bad. AS soon as I begin to say to myself smugly, “God, what would You do without me?” I begin to realize that I’ve gone too far. The key to humility is not thinking less highly of yourself than you ought, it’s recognizing what God wants from you and doing that. For John, it was taking the lead in a very public role calling for people to repent. For Mother Theresa, it was quietly working among the poor in India. For Les, it’s working quietly among people in prison. Interestingly enough, the key to humility is also the key to success with God. If I will do what God has called me to do and keep Him first, it doesn’t matter whether no one ever hears of me or I win the Nobel Prize – I’ll be successful. If, on the other hand, I decide to do things on my own without seeking God’s grace it doesn’t matter whether I win the Nobel Prize or no one ever hears from me – I’ll be a failure. Success, in God’s view, is found in humble service to Him. That’s the only measure that matters to me.