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When I was a schoolboy, sir was an awesome word. In my father’s stories of World War II, ordinary soldiers called the officers who commanded them, “Sir!” My southern cousins were taught to use the word when addressing their father. I both envied and pitied those cousins. I could imagine myself saying, “Sir,” but I couldn’t actually do so—it was too humbling

Eventually, I grew up. Sir became a polite way people addressed men they didn’t know very well. The word lost most of its awe somewhere along the way.   

I’ve been thinking about sir again recently, though. These thoughts have been inspired by the fact that people call me, “Sir,” fairly often. No I’m not a southern father—or any other kind of father for that matter. I never joined the army. I’m a civilian with a menial job. I’m a yardman at a lumberyard. I move heavy objects and pick up trash. I serve our company’s customers. I cut their boards to the lengths they ask, carry those boards to their trucks, and load them. If a customer demands a really nice board, I sort through the pile until a suitable one is found—and do so politely, even when irritated. 

It’s when I carry somebody else’s load to his car that he says, “Thank you, sir.” After putting my own opinions and feelings aside to make sure the customer has a good experience, I get called, “Sir.” I’m a sir as a servant.

 The Bible teaches that the person who humbles himself will be exalted. That principle primarily relates to humbling ourselves before our Maker so we can find His grace and mercy. Yet, God has placed ongoing examples of this truth into everyday life. The person who demands honor often loses that honor in the end. The person who lowers himself to serve receives honor. In fact, Jesus Himself took such an approach and acted as a Servant rather than the King.

I’m a yardman largely out of economic necessity. I’m not particularly humble, and not all my customers call me, “Sir.” Still, it is refreshing to realize that the One who calls on us all to humble ourselves before Him promises to lift us up. He wouldn’t have to. But then, He earned the right to have all bow before Him by humbling Himself to die on a cross.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the 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)

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