Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.
–1 Peter 5:6
Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Now, most of us are willing to obey God or put others’ interests above our own–up to a point. But we have limits, don’t we? There are some things we won’t do. But Jesus’s humility had no limits. He was willing to obey God to the point of death, even death on a cross. Crucifixion was an excruciating death. But what made Jesus’s death unique was not that He died on a cross. Thousands of people died by crucifixion. What made Jesus’s sacrifice unique was the spiritual pain He endured on our behalf. When Jesus hung on the cross, God took all His wrath for all mankind and poured out that condemnation on His Son. There is no way to explain the pain Jesus endured.
Why was Jesus willing to endure such physical and spiritual pain? Certainly, one reason Jesus did it was to secure our salvation. In humility, Jesus put our needs above His own. But another reason Christ was willing to endure the cross is found in Hebrews 12:2. The author of Hebrews said Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Jesus knew that by enduring the pain of the cross, God would reward Him for this act of humility. I’m convinced that none of us will be able to fully obey God unless we believe there’s a reward for doing so. It’s not unspiritual to believe that. Hebrews 11:6 says anyone “who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
As a result of Jesus’s death on the cross, “God highly exalted Him” (Philippians 2:9). Part of that exaltation occurred three days later, when God rescued Jesus from the grave. But it didn’t stop there. Forty days later, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. That was another part of His exaltation. But it didn’t stop there. The Bible says God granted Jesus “the name which is above every name” (v. 9). But the exaltation doesn’t even stop there. The Bible goes on to say that one day every occupant of heaven, earth, and under the earth will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God (Philippians 2:10-11). There is a great reward, an honor coming for Jesus Christ.
You might ask, “What does that have to do with joy?” When you surrender your own rights to meet the needs of another person, God sees your sacrifice. He sees your humility. And one day He will reward you. You will experience unparalleled, unending joy. The Bible says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). Humility is surrendering our rights to meet the needs of other people, just as God did for us. And when we do that, God will reward us with lasting, outrageous joy and the ability to live above our circumstances.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How to Make Your Enemies Love You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.