Summary: You can choose to humble yourself, though it's not an easy thing to do, I know, and God will involve you in what He's doing; God wants to involve you in what He's doing...but, it's always on His terms not yours.
In Luke 10 Jesus tells one of his most famous stories. If you went to Sunday School or VBS when you were a child then you're familiar with this story. The story begins with a Jewish man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is attacked, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious guys see the victim but continue on their way without helping. The first is a priest and the second is a Temple assistant. But the third guy, a Samaritan, tends to the victim's wounds, and then takes him to the closest hotel. He pays the bill for a room and tells the front desk that he'll pay for any more charges if necessary. Then Jesus concludes the story with this question, "Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked?"
Usually when we discuss this parable we conclude that Jesus is talking about compassion. There's no doubt that Jesus is teaching us through this story to show compassion for people no matter who they are or where they are from. But Jesus is also teaching a deeper and more meaningful truth here. I'll share it first and then we'll spend the rest of our time talking about it. Jesus is teaching us through this parable that He must be at the center of all we do and think.
If you want to understand the teaching of Jesus you first must grasp what His primary priorities are. The Gospel writers made special note to share these priorities so that we can understand who Jesus is and what He is expecting of His followers. This parable showcases His priorities.
His first priority is to Love God and love others. Why was Jesus even on the earth? Because He loves God and He loves us. This most primary value of Jesus is on display in this parable. In this story who loved God and loved others? The religious guys? Nope, the Samaritan guy. The guy who was discriminated against by the Jews was the one who helped the Jewish victim. Jesus is the center of all we do and think and so it's His values and priorities that shape our decisions and our daily routines. The Samaritan in this story loved his neighbor. When we love others and bless them we do so because we're living for Jesus. We don't help people because they need help. That's what charities and non-profits do. Paul explains that the church helps people so we can share the Gospel with them. The most loving thing we can do for someone is share the Gospel with them. Jesus calls this "making disciples." This is what you're about if Jesus is your center. If His priorities are yours then the results will be clearly seen in your life, your thoughts and actions. You will be a disciple maker. This is what Jesus wanted the Saturday School teachers and those listening to Him that day to understand. He is our center, our motive, our driving force, our decision maker, and He is the reason we love.
There can be other motives that drive your attitude and decisions instead of Jesus. Like the religious guys in this story. Jesus doesn't tell us why they didn't stop but He didn't have to. The truth is they didn't stop because they had no love for God and others. They missed the most important command while they were trying so hard to obey all the other ones. How about you? Are you living with Jesus as your center, your motive, your driving force, or are there other motives driving you right now?
Jesus is teaching us through this parable that He must be at the center of all we do and think.
A second priority of Jesus is to Obey God. Do you realize that there was another reason Jesus was on the earth? So that we could see what a life looks like that is obedient to God. The religious guys in this story apparently had some really important stuff to do. They were so busy they couldn't stop and help an injured man on the side of the road. They ignored the most important command. A life that is motivated by Jesus wants to obey God more than anything. I struggle with a sinful nature just like everyone else. I don't always obey God in every thought or action. Sometimes I lie, sometimes I lust, sometimes I gossip, cheat, steal, lose my temper, or just act grumpy. I don't always choose to do the loving thing. I don't always show compassion. Sometimes I'm like the religious guys in this story.
This is why I need Jesus. I need His grace and His mercy. And I want to obey God. When I act in unloving ways I always feel guilty. My conscience always hurts when I disobey God. If Jesus is your center then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Paul relates too, he said this, "I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."