Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.
John the Baptist stood out like a sore thumb. Created and set apart by God for a specific task. A great task. The greatest. To prepare the way of the Lord. A human megaphone for Jesus, John the Baptist spoke words of maximum volume as he pointed others to the One and Only and prophetically authenticated the divinity and eternal nature of Christ.
John knew who he was and he knew who Jesus was. He was all about Jesus. Unashamedly unique, John didn’t cave to comfort, popularity, expectations of others, or tradition. Instead, he walked in obedience to God and sought to make much of the Messiah.
He was an odd bird who ate some seriously unconventional food. I’m down with the honey that he was fond of, but I stop way short of snacking on locusts.
It just wouldn’t even cross my mind to put a big bug in my mouth for nutrition.
And then there was his crazy fashion sense. Pretty sure his clothes caused more than a few eyebrows to rise. Camel’s hair was not necessarily the fabric of choice for the average Hebrew man in his day. But that’s what John wore.
Clearly, impressing others with his coolness was not John’s forte, nor his priority. He was different. Probably not the first one picked for the dodge ball games at Hebrew school and he might’ve even got teased: “Your breath smells like stinky bugs!” Who knows? What we do know about John the Baptist is that he was born for greatness, not for average. But he didn’t go about his days trying to be great. John was focused on pointing people to Jesus—not himself. He was on a sacred mission, which left others wondering about him.
The crowds wondered who he was.
They wanted to know why he did the things he did. The Israelites hadn’t seen a prophet in four hundred years. Something was surely up with this guy. One day John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. The priests and Levites hounded him with questions.
Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’
‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’” (John 1:22-27)
Commissioned by God to be famous for Jesus, John had a humble heart and perspective. “I’m not even worthy to untie this guy’s sandals…”
I love what Pastor and Author Dr. Tony Evans has to say about this topic. “God is not opposed to greatness. God is opposed to pride. Big difference. Unfortunately, it is a difference not widely understood or embraced.”
Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV).
Our job: be humble before God and to others.
God’s job: to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.
“He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).
One way I position myself to live out this step is to welcome accountability. My closest girlfriends and I have a deal. If they see anything in my life that shortchanges God’s glory, they have permission to tell me about it.
Even if it hurts my pride.
Even if it hurts my feelings.
My besties have permission to challenge me toward holiness, toward excellence in Christ. And I have permission to speak honestly to them too. It helps to keep us humble. Cause let’s be real here. The tiny particles of sin-dust that get into our eyes can multiply into hardened scales of blindness quicker than you can fry an egg on an Arizona sidewalk midday in August.
Ultimately, to be great in God’s eyes, we have to get over ourselves and become the least.
Lord, Please refine me to think, respond, and live humbly. Let my life be an arrow that points to Your greatness.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read John 3:30, then answer this question. What is one thing you could do today that would point to the greatness of Jesus?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s latest book, I Want It ALL.
Are you struggling to see your potential for greatness? Gwen’s book, I Want It All, will help you to dust off a few heart dreams, think bigger thoughts of God, laugh and smile a lot, search your soul, and even cry a little … because each page lovingly directs you to the personal grace and truth of JESUS. (CLICK HERE to get a FREE Downloadable “7 Day I WANT IT ALL” Devotional Ebook.)