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Matthew 23:12 & meaning...

Whoever 

exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12

Context

Matthew 23 [1.] Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do. For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes[b] of their garments, and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men. But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23 [13.] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.


Meaning:

  • Exaltation and Humility:

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled: Jesus introduces a paradoxical principle. Those who seek self-promotion and exaltation will inevitably encounter a humbling experience. This highlights the danger of pride and the pitfalls of seeking glory for oneself.

  • Humility Rewarded:

And whoever humbles himself will be exalted: Conversely, the one who willingly embraces humility, acknowledging their limitations and putting others before themselves, is promised exaltation. This exaltation is not self-generated but bestowed by a higher authority.

  • Significance:

Countercultural Wisdom: In a world that often values self-promotion and individual glory, this verse presents countercultural wisdom. Jesus challenges societal norms and invites a radical shift in perspective—away from self-centered ambition toward a posture of humble service.

Divine Economy: The verse reflects a divine economy where values differ from those of the world. It aligns with Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom of God, where the first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16).


Relevance for Today:

Leadership Paradigm: In a world often driven by ambition and the pursuit of success, Matthew 23:12 challenges our notions of leadership. True greatness, according to Jesus, is found in humble service.

Interpersonal Relationships: This principle holds profound implications for our relationships. Whether in families, workplaces, or communities, adopting a posture of humility fosters harmony and genuine connection.


Cross-References:

Luke 14:11: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Luke's Gospel echoes the same principle, underlining the consistency of this teaching in Jesus' ministry.

James 4:10: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you." James, a companion of Jesus, reinforces the linkage between humility and divine exaltation.

1 Peter 5:6: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." Peter, another disciple of Jesus, reiterates the theme of humble submission leading to eventual exaltation.


In Our Daily Lives: In the hustle and bustle of our daily pursuits, Matthew 23:12 serves as a compass. It prompts us to reflect on our motives, challenging us to embrace humility over self-promotion. The verse invites us to a transformative journey where genuine exaltation comes not from climbing a worldly ladder but from stooping to lift others.


guilt - humble - sin - tax - wicked

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible