What are the greatest words you could ever hear? It has to be the Lord saying on judgement day, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23) That would be the ultimate recognition and aspiration for all who seek to follow Jesus Christ. But how do we achieve this recognition? What must we be like to hear these words and receive the recognition of God? How can we prevent hearing those other words where he says, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matthew 7:23) Fortunately, Jesus tells us what is required in this section of scripture.
Pride and Arrogance
In this scripture we see Jesus watching the people invited to a marriage feast. It says in verse 7, “he marked how they chose the places of honour.” These people believed they were entitled to something better. This is pride and arrogance, which is selfish and self-centred.
The proud and arrogant person cannot be taught for they do not listen. Their favourite sound is that of their own voice. They do not take counsel for they believe they know it all. And when they are brought down from their prideful heights they fall headlong. The saying that “Pride goes before a fall,” is too true and when they fall they fall a long way.
Jesus showed this by saying, “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.” (Verses 8-9)
See how the proud and arrogant fall? They leave with their tails between their legs in shame for presuming they were better than they are. They are the architects of their own demise and they lose the respect of others if they had any in the first place. It is their pride and arrogance that leads them astray.
The Key to God’s Recognition
It is important not to succumb to human pride or arrogance. Instead you must learn to be humble as it is through humility that you will receive God’s recognition. He says, “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at table with you.” (Verse 10)
In humility if you take the lowest place and are then promoted it becomes evident to all that you are worthy of the honour. Likewise when we learn to live a life in humility we may receive the ultimate recognition, to be called a good and faithful servant and be seen as a true child of God.
This for many people will seem counterintuitive. It is the wisdom of the world that says you need to “blow your own trumpet.” But God sees inside a person and knows the heart of a person and there is no need to seek praise from him or others. Humility is what counts in God’s eyes.
The Ultimate Recognition of Success
In the end we will all stand before the judgement seat of God and be appraised. The ultimate recognition of success will come from God and the highest form of praise we can receive is to hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” We cannot claim this recognition for ourselves but only learn and live our lives in pursuit of God’s recognition. The key to being promoted in his eyes is humility.
When we are humble we can learn. When we are humble we are willing and prepared to listen. As James said, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10) And Peter also wrote, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)
Pride and arrogance will avail nothing. Self exultation will lead to you losing your eternal life. As Jesus said, “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Verse 11) To be exalted by God is the ultimate reward and recognition.
Follow the advice of the Lord and the apostles and learn to be humble. Humility will lead you to the place where you can receive the true riches that are from God. The true riches lead to peace, joy, love and eternal life through Christ Jesus. It is through the pursuit of these things in humility that we will be able to hear those words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Cris Watk)