The Manner of God’s Work in Us

Luke 1:51-56

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

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This is a magnificent and beautiful hymn of praise to God – the one who humbles the proud and lifts up the humble. Rulers are brought down. The hungry are filled with good things. The rich are sent away with nothing. The humble are lifted up. That is the economy of God.

Ever wonder why that is so? Ever question God’s motives for humbling the proud and lifting up the humble? It’s likely you’ve yearned for it if you have been treated unfairly, or experienced long-term hardship. We are hard-wired to want more; we press on toward a better tomorrow. Whether we want that for our own life, our children or our grandchildren, few of us want to be taken down or experience setbacks.

I’m not convinced God does this purely out a philosophical ideology. Rather God does this, I believe, because it is only the humble who are able to receive the gifts of God. The proud have no need for God – or so they suppose. The high and mighty can control their own destiny. They can buy their way into comfort and wellbeing.

But God thwarts the best laid plans of the rich and mighty. He undercuts the schemes of proud; for no one lives a life with no problems. Everyone will one day die. Better the comeuppance now, however, than at the last hour.

Isn’t it good to know that in the midst of the deepest and darkest valley – the valley of the shadow of death – God is at work preparing a place of level ground in the light of his goodness and love? Isn’t it good to know that when we’re too full of ourselves, God desires to bring us down so that we may receive his goodness and love? This is why Mary praises God: his intent is to bless all people. If it takes humbling us, God will do it. If it involves raising us up, he will do it.

Truly all who are blessed in whom God does his great work!

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