Believe 30: Humility
June 14, 2015
Have you ever had to deal with parents who are nonstop braggers about their kids.
They tell you the child potty trained themselves at 6 months old.
They slept through the night after the first night home.
They are in the advanced nursery school class.
They speak 5 languages before they’re 5 years old.
You know what I mean? It drives you crazy. We used to send out Christmas letters and when Joshua and Zachary were 4 and 6 years old, Debbie gave me permission to send out a spoof letter. I wrote about how Joshua won the Nobel Prize. Zachary found the cure for colds. Of course, I ended by telling people it’s just a joke, but Merry Christmas, anyways.
Today is the last week of our Believe series and our final topic is a look at humility! Obviously, people who are braggards, don’t practice humility. It’s one thing to talk about yourself or your kids and tell what they’ve accomplished, but it’s another to always throw it in someone else’s face.
Paul Powell once said ~ “Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices.”
Our great example is Jesus. Jesus came into this world from the place of perfection … heaven. Let’s look at our key passage, from Philippians 2. Paul wrote ~
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Paul was trying to help the Philippian church be of the same heart and mind when it came to Jesus. Paul tells us that instead of having selfish ambition, Christ emptied Himself.
Instead of coming as a King, Christ emptied Himself of His divinity and took the form of a servant. How many kings become servants?
Jesus didn’t consider His equality with God selfishly, just as the Philippians in humility were to “consider” the needs of others ahead of their own.
All of this is for the glory of God over and against the empty glory of selfish ambition.
So, as Paul said in verses 3-4 ~
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
How well do we do that? Are we focused only on our wants? Are we looking at others and deciding we are too good to help them? Paul wanted to make sure the Philippians didn’t have that mindset. It’s true for us as well.
We are not to be selfish, we are not to be so full of ourselves or so full of our kids, but we are to value others more than ourselves. Paul continues with that thought, we can and should attend to our own interests. BUT, we are not so focused on ourselves that we can’t see another person’s need. So, we practice humility.
According to the Greek, humility means ~
having a humble opinion of oneself;
a deep sense of one’s moral littleness;
modesty, lowliness of mind.
I am really intrigued by the middle definition — have a deep sense of our moral littleness. Picture that! We don’t think so highly of ourselves because we realize the vastness of the world. We’re able to say we’re one cog in the wheel.
It’s the humility of Cal Ripken Jr. which attracted so much fanfare for his accomplishments in baseball. Ripken played in an astounding 2,362 consecutive games. That means he didn’t miss a game for 17 years. That’s an unheard of record and accomplishment.
After he retired, he was interviewed and was asked “what was your greatest accomplishment?”
Ripken said — “I caught the last out of the World Series.”
When asked why? He said, “It wasn’t a great catch — I didn’t dive, I didn’t do a cartwheel and throw the guy out at first base. People’s mouths didn’t drop open on the play. We all want to be part of something bigger. We all have our little jobs that we have to do as a member of a team. Everybody has their individual responsibilities, but they all have to come together for a main goal. . . So the most fulfilling moment I could ever have was catching the last out of the World Series — knowing we did it! Our team won!”
Isn’t that great? He didn’t list any of his hall of fame credentials. His only comment was being one part of a bigger picture. That’s a great picture of humility.
That’s the call in our lives as well. Yet we struggle with that because we see others fighting for honor and recognition. We don’t like it when Jesus tells us to take the lowly seat instead of the seat of honor. He said, someone may come and take that important seat away from you.
Jesus concluded by saying — 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. – Luke 14:11
So, when you take that lowly position and lowly attitude because you are practicing humility, ultimately you will be recognized. Now, we don’t just play the game like so many people do. We really need to have the outlook and practice of placing others as more important than ourselves. It’s not always easy to do. We need to look at the bigger picture, than the small one which shows our glory.
The disciples even struggled with it. In Luke 22, Jesus and the disciples had the Passover dinner together. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and repeatedly told the disciples of His coming betrayal, suffering and death. He said one of them would even betray Him, and immediately after that, the next verse says,
24 A dispute also arose among the disciples, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. — Luke 22:24
Can you imagine the disappointment Jesus had in that moment? He just poured out His heart to this group and they were arguing about who would be the greatest.
Jesus said they would all fall away from Him and Peter would deny Him. Yet, they chose that moment to have an argument about which of them was the greatest. All they could think about was their status — who would sit on Jesus’ right and left in the kingdom. This was not the time for a contest of egos.
It’s easy to miss those moments when we are so focused on ourselves and what we want, as opposed to what’s best for the Kingdom. Someone said, “Humble people don’t think less of themselves . . . they just think about themselves less.”
I like that statement, because we often think too much about ourselves. That often occurs when we think too highly of ourselves. Paul talks about it in Romans 12:3 saying ~ 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.
That lays it out there pretty well. Again, we know people like that. They think pretty highly of themselves and they’re not afraid to tell you about it. Or they lie about their situation in life and lead others to believe they are more important than they really are.
We can fudge numbers. We can say we make more than we do. We can say we had more sales than we did. We can say we weigh less or more . . . than we really do. We say those things because we don’t want others to think we are not good enough. But our goal in life is not to please people in that way. If we please God, we are going to be doing very well with people.
Later in the same chapter, Paul said, 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. — Romans 12:16
Here’s the genius of Paul. How easy is it to live in harmony with others when you think you’re better than them? It’s not! You don’t want to be around THOSE people, who are beneath you. You don’t want to help them, you don’t want to be near them . . . . unless of course it can benefit you.
So, Paul reminds us — live in harmony with one another. You don’t all have to agree with one another, but live in the Spirit of unity having the same mindset, the same hope, and ultimately, the same Christ.
When Paul says do not be haughty, the definition is — don’t think you are arrogantly superior than others. I love it! Instead, Paul says, associate with those who are humble. Associate with those who don’t think highly of themselves. Not because they have a low self esteem, but because they practice humility. These are people who are in a lowly state in a good way, because they aren’t full of themselves.
Of course, Paul’s last line is a great reminder wherever we go, don’t be a wiseguy! Don’t think you are smarter than you are. Don’t think you’ve outsmarted others, because there is always someone smarter than you.
The bottom line is be humble, practice humility. Let others tell you how good you are. Be wise, don’t be cocky, embrace the love, the grace, the never ending power of Christ.
After all, in God’s eyes we’re all beneath Him. He’s perfect, we’re not even on the landscape. So, God emptied Himself . . . so He could come here and offer us the great gift of Himself. He took on the form of a servant so we could experience His grace, love and power!