In the 70’s and 80’s, CBS broadcasted its hit sitcom, “The Jeffersons”. The show featured an African-American family that became wealthy and moved out of a run-down area in Queens to a luxury apartment in Manhattan. As they celebrated their newfound promotion, the Jeffersons’ used to sing about “movin’ on up”, a phrase that has since become synonymous with the sitcom.
Whenever we speak of advancement or promotion we tend to think of it as upward motion; climbing the ladder, breaking the glass celing, getting on top of the heap, up-grading, elevating, etc., but nothing says it better than, “Movin’ on up.”
UP – it is the direction that everyone wants to go; for the path upward seems to be the path of fame, fortune, honor and glory. But Isn’t it interesting that many of earth’s most precious substances can only be acquired by digging deep down? The person who is willing to go very low could become very wealthy. Engineers also understand that if they want to raise a tall building, first they need to go low and lay a deep foundation. So it is with promotion. Jesus said, “…he who humbles himself shall be promoted.” The low path of humility is the only path to promotion with God.
Joseph had lofty dreams of greatness. He saw his mother, father and brothers all bowing down before him. But God’s way of promoting Joseph to the top was not what he would have imagined. Ironically, it was those very dreams of glory that bred contempt in the hearts of his brothers who eventually sold him into a humble life of slavery.
Joseph’s path to greatness would take him through the bitter waters of servitude, character assassination and even imprisonment in the royal dungeon. For Joseph, life seemed to have a downward trajectory, constantly going from bad to worse. I’m sure there were moments that he must have asked, “Why God?” Wasn’t it God who had promised him promotion and influence? Had Joseph done something wrong that God was allowing him to go through such arduous hardships?
Joseph descended down the dark winding staircase of humility and submission. When he reached the last door at the bottom, he discovered that this obscure downward path had led him all the way to…the top! Almost overnight he found himself in one of the highest places of power and authority in the world. All along, it was this lowly path that God had determined to use to lift Joseph up. Joseph discovered that THE WAY UP IS DOWN.
Perhaps the greatest example of this principle comes from Jesus Christ Himself. He who was in “the form of God”, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant. Not only was He found in fashion as a man, but He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death…even death on a cross. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
The world teaches us that we live in a dog-eat-dog world, and if we want to advance we need to fight for our rights, prove ourselves, and step on the competition if necessary. But Psalms 75:6,7 tells us that “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
If we want to be promoted, it would be wise to heed the advice of the One who gives promotions:
Luke 14:11,”For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled. And he who humbles himself shall be promoted.”
Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will promote you.”
Proverbs 29:23, “A person’s arrogance will bring him low, but with the humble is wisdom.”
2 Corinthians 10:18, “For not he who promotes himself is approved, but whom the Lord promotes.”
When I visited the Eiffel Tower last year during our conference in Paris, I noticed that there were three different queues you could join. One went to the first level, one went to the second level and one went all the way to the top. To come all the way to Paris and then only go to the first or second level seemed ridiculous…I was determined to go to the top. I could see how the first and second level queues were climbing the stairs going immediately up, but for some strange reason, my queue was headed downward. It seemed strange for the queue going the highest to be moving downward, but soon I saw the reason. While the other queues were climbing the stairs with their hands and feet, we were making our way to a lift that would take us all the way to the top.
Some people are so eager to be successful that they are climbing level-by-level with all of their might; proving themselves and promoting themselves with feverish urgency. But you should know that God has an elevator waiting for those who want to go higher than level one or level two. And the only way to get to God’s elevator is to go down the low place of humility and submission. The way up is down.
~ By Daniel Kolenda (www.danielkolenda.com)