Proverbs says that the glory of men is their strength. But since the first sin in the Garden of Eden it has been the tendency and the temptation of men to be lazy. Adam didn’t guard his wife, didn’t protect her from sin or the serpent; he didn’t work hard at what God had put in front of him. And in the curses following the Fall, God promised that His work would be even harder. There would be thorns and weeds, and he would have to work by the sweat of his brow and death would make his body weak and eventually die. But this does not change the fact that the glory of men is their strength, and if that was true in the Old Covenant, how much more so is this true in the New Covenant after the coming of the true man, the faithful Adam, Jesus Christ. And where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Where Adam gave in to the tempter, Jesus withstood. And then in addition to standing firm, Jesus went to the cross to display the greatest kind of strength there is, giving His life away for the world, giving His life away for His enemies. Jesus said that the greatest of all is the one who becomes the servant of all. The one who loses His life is the one who will find it. The one who seeks to save his life will lose it. But Jesus didn’t just say that, He lived it. He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant. And then He humbled Himself even to the point of death, even the shame and suffering of the cross. And that was the most glorious moment in the history of all time. That was the moment where the strength of God shone with the most glory. That was true strength, true glory because at the very moment when Jesus lost His life, He won life for the world. When Jesus became the servant of all, He was guaranteed to become the Lord of all. And this is the point: every man wants to be strong and every man wants glory. But you are constantly being bombarded with cheap substitutes. You are constantly being invited to find any easier way to glory, some way to get glory without as much pain or humiliation. But Jesus has proven once and for all that the only path to being great is the way of the cross. The only way to find your life is to lose it. The only way to glory is through the shame of servitude. Do you want your children to respect you? Then serve them. Do you want your wife to respect you? Then serve her. Do you want to be great? Then be strong and go find a cross. Be strong and lay your life down for your neighbor; lay your life down for your enemies. The greater the service, the greater the glory. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins of pride and envy and grasping after glory.
The Apostle Peter reminds us of the wisdom of Proverbs: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5)