What kind of person was Mary that she would be chosen to be the mother of Jesus? What did God see in her? I don’t know all the reasons God chose her or what he saw in her, but I did notice something here in these verses. Mary displayed one very important character trait that moves the heart of God: humility. Look at these verses in Luke chapter 1:
If any one word describes Mary, it’s the word “humble”. God didn’t choose her because she was a successful businesswoman. God didn’t choose her because she was popular. God didn’t choose her because she was a superstar… or a superhero… or because she had already shown she was a great mom – great at motherhood. God didn’t choose her because she was wealthy or because she was poor. Or because she had a high IQ or a normal IQ. God didn’t choose her for any of those reasons, even though none of those reasons would have disqualified her. She could have been successful, popular, wealthy, smart, or had already proved herself great at raising kids. All great qualifications. Mary could have displayed all kinds of wonderful traits, talents and skills. But God wasn’t looking for any of those outward things. God was looking into her heart. And there… he found… humility. The Lord found a servant’s heart in Mary.
I hope Mary’s humility speaks to all of us… because I wonder how many of us are always striving and struggling to be a success in life… to get more stuff… to obtain status and position where we work. I’m talking about where our main goal in life is to be a success – successful in school, successful at sports, successful raising kids, a successful musician, successful in your job, successful at whatever you do. Sure, I want to be successful like anyone else, especially in ministry. Just like any other pastor. But it’s not my main goal. It may surprise you to hear me say this, but: Success is not my main goal in life. I don’t see that in Scripture. I don’t see that playing a role in choosing Mary. We have to be careful in our American Christianity to guard against bowing to what I call the success syndrome where the preaching is all about how to be a successful person in life or how to be a successful leader. That’s not preaching the Gospel. That’s not even preaching the Bible. Being successful in life is not the main goal for the Christian.
My main goal in life is to be the man God created me to be – to fulfill God’s purpose in me. Sure, that might include being successful in ministry or successful raising a family! Yet, God’s definition of success is most likely different from ours. I believe God defines success this way: humbling yourself as a servant who accepts and lives out God’s purpose for you. I want to be faithful to whatever God has called me to do and to be. It’s what I believe we hear in Mary’s response in v38: “I am the Lord’s servant… may your word to me be fulfilled.” That kind of response moves my heart in ways that striving and struggling for success does not. Success can be erased in an instant. You unexpectedly lose your job… a sudden accident incapacitates you… your investments are wiped out… your business goes belly up… a hurricane wipes you out… a fire burns your dream house to the ground with all your belongings inside. Yes, success and its symbols can be erased in an instant. Serving the Lord in humility cannot.
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