Stand Out in the Crowd in 2018

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(Luke 14:11 NIV)

“Humble yourself!” These two words rang out and made national headlines to kick off the New Year, as a player for the University of Georgia’s football team publicly called out and admonished the All-American quarterback from his opponent, The University of Oklahoma. The two teams had just played for a shot to compete for college football’s National Championship and Georgia had squeezed out a narrow victory. Some of the motivation for Georgia’s win came from the star opponent’s antics prior to the game, as well as his reputation for ‘trash talking’ and poor sportsmanship toward his opponents throughout the season.

Obviously disrespectful and boorish behavior is nothing new in sports. The old cliché that “Sports does not build character, it reveals it,” often proves true. In addition, it seems, it has also risen to new heights in politics, business and entertainment revealing itself in everything from arrogant leadership to sexual harassment and the downfall of once respected leaders and personalities. It reflects our culture’s promotion of and preoccupation with self. It may also be one of the greatest opportunities for Christians to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus preaches and exemplifies a life of humility and selflessness. He tells His followers that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. He tells parables in which He notes the first will be last and the last, first. He calls for

discretion as we execute the spiritual disciplines of praying, fasting and giving. And Jesus tells us that by letting this light of Christ like selflessness shine, we will influence others to the point that they will be moved to the point of praising God. And after telling His followers, “What good will it be for a

man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul,”Jesus promises that each person who exclaims and examples Christ will be rewarded according to their level of commitment.

This year I want to encourage you to ‘stand out in the crowd,’ not by words and actions that say, “Look at me,” but by words and actions that say, “Look at Thee!” Upon seeing Jesus coming toward him, the Bible tells us that the great prophet John the Baptist said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Bible also tells us that John prefaced his praise of Jesus by humbly stating that he (John) wasn’t even worthy to untie the dirt laden sandals of Jesus. (Now that’s humility.) May our greatest New Year’s resolution be to humbly be the light that points people to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God’s richest blessing in 2018!

(Bloggers postscript – I’d like to encourage everyone to begin this year of ‘humbly’ standing out ‘of’ the crowd by joining us in 21 days of prayer and fasting by just giving up soda or other junk food for the next 21 days, or going a little deeper with a ‘Daniel’ Fast or just drinking healthy juices, herbal teas, broths, etc. Fast discreetly, joyously and humbly. If anyone notices your fast (or your joy for that matter), just let them know you’re just trying to grow deeper in your faith and walk with Christ.)

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