In his prime, Muhammad Ali was, according to many experts, the best boxer ever to step into the ring. He was also very good for the sport, assuming that lots of publicity for such a brutal sport could be called “good.”
As a teenager I can recall watching this brash young fighter, wagging his finger at an opponent. His verbal taunts were as relentless as his left jab. “I’m going to bring you down,” He told Floyd Patterson, the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, in 1965. And Ali took him down. In the years to follow Muhammad Ali directed his pointed finger and audacious claims in the faces of the likes of the behemoth Sonny Liston and the mighty Joe Frazier. In those days, there wasn’t a boxer alive who didn’t fear the great Ali. No boxer could stand under his pitiless attack.
One of the most often repeated themes in the Bible is this: When our hearts become proud, God will, in his own way, level us out. “Though you soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” God told his contemptuous people through the prophet Obadiah.
In time, even the stupendous Muhammad Ali went down . . . his age and his own poor health became the supreme victors.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), Solomon warned. “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” (29:23). “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” Jesus would tell his followers centuries later (Matthew 5:5).
There are two important principles at work here. First, God will use whatever and whomever He chooses to humble His people. Muhammad Ali wasn’t exactly a modest character himself, yet God may use someone just like this in your life to bring you to a place of submission before Him. While we may question His tactics, God’s goal is to create a contrite heart in us, and He’ll use whatever it takes to get us there (see also Romans 9:17).
Second, humility—a servant’s heart and a gentle tongue—is the natural consequence of a grateful spirit. Yet humility is one of those elusive goals that you must forget in order to achieve! The more you try to not think about yourself, the more difficult it will be for you to be humble.
Humility is the by-product of something else. It’s the result of understanding one’s own sinfulness and God’s holiness. It’s the consequence of one’s daily commitment to pursue his righteousness. Humility comes when one discovers who one is in Christ, accepts one’s place before Him, then forgets all of that and obediently pursues Him.
Our God is a mighty God. He has called us to be His followers. He is the One who deserves all the glory. Kind of makes you proud just thinking about it, doesn’t it?
Taken from NIV Dad’s Devotional Bible