Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Stories of the “Don’t you know who I am?” phenomenon are everywhere, such as the impatient traveler, outraged by a flight delay. He angrily stomped up to the front and loudly complained to the customer service representative, ultimately asking the burning question “Don’t you know who I am?” Without skipping a beat, she picked up the microphone and said “Attention ladies and gentlemen: We have a man up here who doesn’t know who he is. If anyone can identify him, please come forward.”
Like the impatient traveler, we all need a lesson in humility sometimes. Back when I used to be tall (a towering 5’6” at age 13) I played 8th grade basketball. After a good game, thinking I had become the next Pistol Pete Maravich, I boldly declared to my teammates that I would score 40 points in the next game!
On that fateful day, although I shot early and often (and missed a lot!) I had only scored a mere 9 points when the coach wisely benched me. I still remember Billy asking me after the game “Where’s your 40 points, Crockroft?”
I didn’t have much of answer then, and still don’t, but a couple of verses come to mind: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) and “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11).
In Acts 10, we learn that God “does not show favoritism”. No one gets special privilege due to “who they are” based on their economic or social status, family or political connections, education, or the number of trophies on their mantle. While this is bad news if we are, as famed sportscaster Howard Cosell phrased it, “a legend in our own minds”, it is good news for the humble, those of low estate in the world’s eyes. James 4:6 says God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Similarly, I Peter 5:5-7 tells us to be “…be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus said “ Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
A few verses later Jesus added “…Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The key to being great in God’s eyes is not power, position, or even achievement, but service to others. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14.
• Guy Crockroft is executive director of Love Inc., Juneau.”Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.