Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.  James 4:10

This simple verse speaks volumes as to our relationship to God and even our relationship to others.  As Lutherans we speak of our Vertical Relationship with God and our Horizontal Relationship to others.  We note that our relationship with God is completely on Him.  We contribute nothing to it.  But our relationship with others (horizontal) is reciprocal.

But if you think about it, both require humility.  Before God we must be humble enough to realize that God is God and we are but His creatures.  We must acknowledge that He is superior to ourselves in every way.  He knows best.  Our job is to listen and learn.  This is how we must “humble ourselves before the Lord.”  We must acknowledge Him AS LORD.  We must submit.  Obey.

But when we do that, we find that we must also humble ourselves before others.  For Jesus tells us to serve our neighbors.  To love one another as He has loved us.  That in order to be first we must be the servant of all.  

Therefore, a right relationship with God requires humility.  And because of this we learn that a right relationship with others involves humility also.

This is often difficult for us.  The world preaches the values of self-worth, look out for #1, and other like ideas.  But we must remember that humility is not self-deprecation.  It is not thinking poorly of yourself.  Jesus also tells us to love our neighbors AS OURSELVES.  He intends for us to love ourselves.  To think well of ourselves.  To care for ourselves.  After all, He made us!  But, in humility, not to think more of ourselves than of others.  As we love ourselves, as we look out for #1, we must do so in a way that still places the needs of others before our own needs.  And most importantly, that puts our value in proper relationship to God, recognizing that any value we have comes from Him.

We pray – Dearest Jesus, so many of your teachings are mysterious.  Help us to see that humility and loving others does not mean demeaning or denying ourselves.  Help us to love You first and ourselves second that we may then love and serve our neighbors rightly.  In Your Holy Name we pray.  Amen.