God’s Upside Down Values

By Mark D. Roberts

March 8, 2019

Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.

Psalm 138:6


Have you ever noticed that famous people tend to hang out with other famous people? If you’re a “somebody”—whether an athlete, a rock star, a top CEO, or a media mogul—chances are you spend your time with other “somebodies,” people of similar social status to yourself. Meanwhile, the rest of us “nobodies” mingle with those who are rather like us.

God turns all of this upside down. He does precisely the opposite of those who hang out only with the rich and famous. According to Psalm 138:8, “Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.” God has more status, more power, more wealth, and more honor than any human being. Yet God pays attention to “the lowly,”  looking kindly upon them.

For most of us, this is very good news because—frankly—we’re numbered among “the lowly.” We’re not counted among the rich and famous. We’re not invited to exclusive Hollywood or Manhattan parties. We’re relative nobodies. Yet our humble state means that we’re the kind of people who receive God’s special attention.

Now, if you’re one of those people who tend to think highly of themselves (whether deserved or not), this psalm offers a word of warning. If we are proud, if think we are really amazing, if we’re overly impressed with ourselves, then God may keep his distance from us. Perhaps this is because proud folk tend to be self-reliant. They aren’t inclined to need anybody else—including God.

So if you are a person of little cultural influence, take heart. Not only does God care for you, but God tends to use people like you for his purposes. God seems to like mustard seeds and the lowly things of this world (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). If, however, you’re a person of significant social capital, don’t let this go to your head. Receive your success as a gift from God and remain humble before him and others. Realize just how much you need God and how immeasurably great he is. Let these truths guide your life and God will remain close to you because your heart will remain welcoming to him.

Something to Think About:

How do you respond to Psalm 138:6?

How can a person be successful and also humble?

Something to Do:

If God “looks kindly on the lowly,” then shouldn’t we? Can you think of someone in your life, perhaps at work or school, perhaps in your neighborhood or church, who is easily overlooked or undervalued? If so, ask the Lord how you might “look kindly” on this person. What might you do to lift up him or her? As God guides your answer to this question, do what he puts on your heart.


God, thank you for looking kindly on “the lowly.” Thank you for not being impressed by those who are successful, famous, rich, or all of the above. Thank you for caring about me, for looking upon me with kindness. Help me, I pray, to do the same for others. Set me free from the need to impress, to hang out with the right people, to be thought of as a person of importance. Rather, may I reach out with your grace to all people, especially to those who don’t measure up according to the standards of our culture. Amen.

Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
God Will Work Out His Plans for My Life

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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