ARE YOU BEING SUCCESSFUL OR SIGNIFICANT –
Adding to their various themes in the Song of Ascents, the compilers of the Psalter now choose a psalm that addresses the motivations for pursuing objects of need or desire. Although it is a short psalm, the principle is one that takes the longest to learn. A pilgrim must see the contrast between being driven by pride in a quest for power and prominence, and that of serving in humility which brings greater rewards of contentment with more lasting achievements than those gained when motivated by conceit. The reality of one’s true expectations and methods used must be acknowledged. Everyone must accept their limitations and live within their means and abilities. Such humility eliminates the fear of failure and disappointment.
“O LORD Eternal, I’ve never thought of myself as being egotistical, nor am I stuck up; I don’t seek the spotlight or wish for things I don’t really deserve. As a matter of fact, I’ve grown out of those things; I don’t consider myself a child anymore, I’m all grown up now. To all believers I say, put your hope in the LORD Eternal, and let it remain that way.” Psalm 131:1-3
Reflection: After the great African-American Booker T. Washington served as president of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1881, a wealthy white lady stopped him as he walked in an exclusive section of town. Thinking him to be a Negro out of work, she asked him if he’d like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood. Because he had no pressing items on his agenda at that moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do what she requested. When finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. It was then that one of the maids recognized him and subsequently revealed his true identity to the lady. The next morning, the highly embarrassed woman went to see Dr. Washington in his office at the school and apologized profusely. “It’s perfectly all right, Ma’am,” Washington replied. “Occasionally I enjoy manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.” She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude endeared him to her heart. Shortly afterward, she expressed her admiration by persuading wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute for black teachers. Both the Psalmist and Professor Washington give us examples of how powerful humility and meekness of spirit prove to be, even in the eyes of those who possess wealth and prestige. But without doubt, the greatest model of lowering oneself for a great cause comes in the example of Jesus Christ. If these great men show us the value and worth of putting oneself out or at risk for the good of others, how much more then ought we follow their pattern of humility. Jesus’ personal views on this subject were expressed so eloquently when He told His disciples, “Whoever wants to be first must willing to take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” And look at what the Son of God was able to accomplish out of humility instead of pride. You cannot do any better than to be like Jesus.