The Power of Humility

How Jesus transforms our view of status in Matthew 18

By Karen McNary – BSF Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community 

I was about 10 years old when I had my eyes examined for the first time. I was able to function in school and sports activities, but slowly, and over time, my eyesight worsened. I didn’t notice my faulty vision, but my parents could see the difference. 

I’ll never forget how surprised and excited I was the first time I put on my new glasses. Before glasses, I only saw a plain brown door. Now I saw a brown door with beautifully textured wood grain. Trees that looked like a large green mass became beautiful, filled with unique, individually shaped leaves. Until my eye exam and glasses, I didn’t realize how incomplete my view of the world was and how much more there was to be seen. 

I needed a doctor and a diagnosis to see clearly. I needed the truth. I needed a solution.  

Like a doctor diagnosing a patient, Jesus is faithful to correct our spiritual vision. For the early Church, He spoke directly to their view of others. But Jesus doesn’t simply diagnose a problem. He offers a new view.  

Shifting Focus

For those who lived in the ancient near East, status was extremely important. Through the early Church’s cultural lens, social or political status determined greatness. Those associated with rank and position were revered. When disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” in Matthew 18:1, they were seeking a path to position, focusing on the value of their status among men.  

But Jesus offered a different view.  

Rather than defining greatness by the standards the disciples would have expected — accomplishments, reputation, and high rank — Jesus challenged them to view status through a biblical lens.  

In Matthew 18:3-4, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 

This teaching is true for us today. 

How we see and relate to each other must not be based on man-made systems. Instead, Jesus encourages us to view ourselves as little children.    

To become childlike, as Jesus said, is to view ourselves through eternal reality. Like children, we are helpless. The depth of our disobedience strips away our man-made, earthly status, leaving us equal under the weight of sin. Wealth and position can’t cover our trespasses. But through the sacrifice of our Savior, we find hope. Through Christ alone, we become children of God. Instead of striving for status, we can simply be grateful. Through this new view, we see serving as a privilege. We are just as honored to share in His sufferings as His blessings.  

Childlike humility can also be seen when we renounce any notions of self-importance. When we look through Jesus’ lens, we see no second-class citizenship based on ethnicity, no world ranking designation based on economics, nor a caste system that views some as superior based on birth. In Christ, all have the same status — daughter, son, friend, valued and greatly loved by a great God. 

Seeing through Jesus’ lens leads to being other centered, not causing others to stumble, and actively seeking the good of those who are vastly different. At the foot of the One who is righteous, we should be happy to surrender our right to be right.

Humility for The World to See

What influence for Christ could we have if the unbelieving world saw diverse believers relate to each other in this way?  

How can we begin to let go of our incomplete vision and put on the “glasses” of childlike humility?  

  • Accept entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven: Everybody enters the community in the same way — by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. All who believe in Him have access to the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, and understanding of His Word. Only in Christ can we have corrected vision. The path is narrow, but open to all.

  • Allow God’s Word to examine you: How we approach God’s Word – either as a window examining others or as a mirror examining ourselves – matters. God’s Word encourages, equips, and uplifts, but  it also rebukes, corrects, and trains in righteousness. We need the whole counsel of God to be conformed to His image. 
    • Adjust behaviors based on God’s Word: God’s Word is meant to be lived, not just learned. We can trust the power of His Spirit to help see and live in a way that magnifies Him, matures us both individually and collectively, while also setting us apart from the rest of the world.  

    As cultures around us continue to become more chaotic and controversial, may we see clearly as Jesus sees, through a biblical lens, and live as He did in humility, forgiveness, and graciousness to enemies as well as friends.  

    Karen McNary

    Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community 

    Karen served as a Children’s Leader, Substitute Teaching Leader, Teaching Leader, Area Personnel and most recently as a Skills Coach for BSF prior to joining the staff in April 2021. She is originally from Louisville, Ky. and for the past 20 years has called  Charlotte, NC home.  She has been married to her husband, Keith, for  27 years, and together they parent three three young adult sons who attended the BSF School Program for many years.

     

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    164 Comments

    1. You are so on point. Though it can be difficult sometimes. The Holy Spirit will guide us and Gods grace will give us hope and perseverance. Thank you

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    2. Karen” s post was terrific. I am amazed at her BSF background. She has held all the positions.

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    3. Thank you Karen for this reminder of how humility and trust makes us influential beyond the ways in which the world located it. It was so good to have that reminder! Anita

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    4. Karen, thanks for the reminder. I pray for corrected vision that is sustained throughout my daily journey.

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    5. Thank you. Insightful and a good reminder to use my biblical lens.

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      • I like Karen’s recommendation….
        “Instead of striving for status, we can simply be grateful.” Thank you for the reminder Karen!

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    6. Thank you for sharing your heart. Enjoyed in what you said.

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    7. Thank you Karen! Praying to see as Jesus sees

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    8. Seeing through a “biblical lens” is a good measurement for believers self-examination in through, word and deed. Thank you for your story on humility.

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    9. Karen,
      Thank you for the insight and reminder. The need to refocus and see from a higher perspective is always welcome.

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    10. Karen, I read it over and over – and then I prayed it. Thank you so.

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    11. I am in need of a spiritual vision I surrender my rights to be right all to him I freely give thank you for a much needed message

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      • I agree Reba…. I need to surrender more. My want to be right happens all the time. Forgive me Jesus.

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    12. love it

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    13. Thank you for sending this blog .

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    14. As I study Mathew, I see my self just wanting more of Christ. Truly enjoyed the blog, really what we need in today’s world.

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    15. Thanks Karen—nicely stated. Today at our morning coffee and small group we discussed the kind of leader the world would like to follow and compared that to what we as Christians would like to follow. Timely advice!

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    16. I very much enjoyed these blog. It was an eye opener for me . I enjoyed everything and pray that Jesus help me to put on that spiritual lens so that I walk the path He shows me.
      Thank you.

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      • Molly,

        I believer your prayer is what God wants for all of us and I’m confident He will answer you.

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    17. So true, I try to lie this way sometimes it is hard. I still try

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    18. Thank you for this great reminder which is so relevant at this time!

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    19. Surrendering our right to be right – wouldn’t the world look so very different if we could all embrace that idea!
      Lord, let it begin with me!

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      • I agree Shelly, and God has called us to show the way. It’s hard but He’s given us the power to do it.

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    20. I really enjoyed your words today. Thank you Karen you certainly reminded us of how powerful and merciful God is. Some thing to take to the heart. Would like more readings.

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    21. Humility is key in the school of God. Am learning from Jesus each day shalom

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    22. Thank you, your thoughts offer me pause, God’s abundant love and guidance never ceases to set me back on my heels. Thank you for broadening my awe. I too will save this in my “keeper folder.”

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      • Dear Mrs. McNary, thank you for this article. It was heartfelt, especially the paragraph regarding “Allow God’s Word to examine you”. I pray for God’s direction in this area. God Bless.

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    23. Thank you , Karen, for the biblical reminder of how we need to care for others as we journey together in our Christian Walk.

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      • Chris,

        You’re so right that we are on a journey together, and the world is watching how we relate to other.

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    24. God bless you for your blog Karen. As someone who works for a large corporation who is training on Diversity and Inclusion, their training should be exactly this. By the power of the Holy Spirit I am moved to see past everything else and look at others as a brother or sister who with me are a child of God. Loving them, knowing the God who made me, is the same God who made that “other” person and by loving them, I am fulfilling my purpose on His earth.

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      • Amen! I truly believe God places us in corporate American to be the example!

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    25. Thank you so much Karen. Well written, insightful and thought provoking. Humility is one of the tough ones.
      More Please…………
      Blessings & Gratitude

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    26. A VERY GOOD READING. THANKYOU

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    27. Inspiring and beautiful thoughts, Karen. Thank you. This blog goes into my “keeper” file. Much appreciated!

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    28. This was a well written blog. I enjoyed the direct approach of the writing and its content. Well written.

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    29. Thank you Karen for sharing the true meaning of the Power of humility just as Jesus meant it to be. I prayed the same prayer today asking God to bring the blind, the lame, the broken into our congregations, so that they can experience the true freedom that Christ gives. This will also shift our focus from ourselves and we will be able to see through Jesus’ lens and will know the Heart of Christ. May the Lord’s abundant blessings continue to be with you. Thank you

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    30. Karen, thanks for your call to allow the word to be a mirror of examining ourselves. As you state, Gods word often becomes a window to examine others more than a mirror of transformation for ourselves. May we be people fixated on the mirror instead of peering out the window.

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    31. Thank you Karen

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    32. “At the foot of the One who is righteous, we should be happy to surrender our right to be right.” Thanks for sharing this thought and reminding me that surrender is far more important than being “right.”

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      • Loved this too!!!

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    33. I received this treatment yesterday:

      It is sometimes harder to receive someone’s doing for you I heard as I was off to BSF at a GL meeting and then leading a group. We studied Matthew 17 and spoke of Jesus Transfiguration but how he came to his terrified disciples and said Do not fear and comforted them after God the Father spoke saying This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him! We saw how the disciples inquired of Jesus why they had not been able to
      heal. We saw Jesus saying He must go to be mocked and beaten, be on the Cross and resurrected to his disciples.
      Then He showed us how He provides and is willing to pay for others when He did not have to pay, to serve selflessly.
      I returned home to discover how a man with a servant’s heart had come to our home to clean and restore all the
      leather on the furniture in our living room and bedroom. My husband has fractured the L4 in his back and cannot help with things like this that normally he does. I had mentioned last Thursday at Life Group I needed names of cleaners to help me accomplish all my duties and all what my husband has done and minister to him. I saw the Lord through Kerry’s selfless act of coming to do this. I became aware as I left BSF that this was happening so I was given time to accept it — to see God’s glory, provision, and power. He used a disciple of his to participate!

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    34. This is wise, one learns so much from being with children and letting His word permeate us. Both are gifts meant to expand our understanding.

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      • Agreed! There’s nothing more humbling that being with children…

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    35. Very well said. May God help me grow in my faith in childlike submission to Him each day.

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