READ: Psalm 34, Isaiah 61-63, Matthew 6, Acts 13
John the Baptist is one of my favorite biblical characters because he stayed little all the way to the end. Luke records this rare feat for us in Acts 13:25: “As John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He…the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’” John’s example runs counter to many biblical leaders, some of them prominent. Samuel rebuked King Saul: “When you were little in your own eyes were you not head of the tribes of Israel” (1 Sam. 15:17)? Something happens to us during our Christian walk that agitates against us staying little. Unfortunately, as soon as we start to get “too big for our boots,” we also begin to distance ourselves from Jesus. Jesus loves the humble: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Those who stray towards arrogance and self-sufficiency are those from whom God tends to distance Himself. Two essential intentional actions help us stay little: clothing ourselves with praise and generosity in forgiveness.
Clothed with Praise. Praise is a garment that we wear (Isaiah 61:3). When we are “ever praising Him,” we are robed in praise and it is what covers us. Self-praise tends to disrobe us and reveal our shameful nakedness. Praise of God covers our sins as it does not direct attention to us, but attention Godward. When we are constantly pointing others to Jesus (by ever praising Him), not only does God loom large, we also stay small. Praise is a protection against pride for we cannot both magnify ourselves and God. When we consistently invite others to “exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3), it is impossible to puff up with pride. We stay little by constantly verbalizing that God as big.
Generous in Forgiveness. When we think we are something, when we have been infected by the “I am somebody” spirit, we easily take offense. “How dare that person insult me or question my decision?” we ask ourselves. Offense and hurt rise quickly when we have ceased to be broken and contrite before the Lord. Little ones don’t take offense; they are not big enough in their own heads to be insulted. We stay little by constantly forgiving those that hurt us. Anyone (even infants) can be hurt; only those “too big for their britches” can be insulted. If you have felt the sting of insult, it is an indication that pride is mingled with your humility and your primary recourse is to forgive the insult. Forgiveness keeps us lowly, forgiveness reduces our injuries, it makes us insult-proof. Forgiveness keeps us small for we are not important enough to be insulted.