[Jesus said,] “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
One of the children’s stories that I remember reading when I was young was The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. The tale describes a vain emperor who delights in wearing extravagant clothing. When two tailors offer to create for the emperor a set of clothing far more exquisite than had ever been seen before, the emperor agrees and soon begins pouring money into the project. The tailors had promised that quality of these new clothes would be so superior to normal clothes that only those who excelled in intelligence and ability would be able to see them. Of course, there were no clothes, but the emperor, the people in the royal court and the common folk of that land were all too vain or insecure (or both) to admit that. Only an innocent child had the sincere frankness to exclaim what everyone could see, “He’s not wearing any clothes!”
You and I are like that emperor in many ways. We say and do things that we think will bring us honour, but our efforts are like “invisible clothes” that fail to impress and bring shame upon us instead of the covering of honour that we seek.
God knows our frailty and nakedness (see Rev. 3:17) and in His mercy, compassion and love for us, He offers us a different and better covering than we could ever make for ourselves.
This covering was forged in the furnace of our affliction, but not by any ordinary human being. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, became fully human to suffer the guilt, shame and condemnation of the whole human race.
In exchange, God gives us a new covering. But this covering is not clothes, praise from others or social standing. The covering that God gives us is a person: His Son, Jesus.
Through faith, we are always covered by Jesus. Regardless of how discouraging or upsetting our circumstances may be, or what other people may think of or say about us, we are always covered by Jesus and His love. How far could one sink in society before they are beyond the covering of Jesus’ love? You could go all the way down and Jesus and His love would still be with you.
It is Jesus and His love that lifts us up, encourages us and gives us the honour of being a beloved, forgiven child of God. And that covering can never be taken away from us!
Dear Jesus, help me to turn away from trying to bring honour to myself. Instead, help me to rest in the covering of You and Your love. Amen.