Faithlife Sermons

Believe: Humility

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Open to Philippians 2 (no shame in looking at TOC)
Well, we finally come to the end - 30 lessons of Believe. Reminder - send your comments to me. I want to hear how this series affected you and transformed you. Next week, I’ll wrap it all up.
Our final topic is humility.
Key Question: What does it mean to value others before myself?
Key Idea: I choose to esteem others above myself.
On the surface, the concept of humility seems simple enough. Swallow your pride and treat others like they’re more important. We might add that Jesus was humble, and thus we should be humble. We might go to a verse like
Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
From there we might get this idea that Christian humility is all about serving - if we just serve people, then we’re being humble. Well, Jesus was definitely humble, and Jesus definitely served others, but
His humility was always connected to advancing the Kingdom of God.
Somewhere in His humility and service, He revealed the Kingdom. So, Biblical humility goes beyond the surface - beyond just swallowing one’s pride. We’ll see
True humility is a result of spiritual transformation.
Transformation? “Well, so-and-so is one of the most humble people I know, and he’s not a Christian.” E.g., Grandpa Wright - favorite guy in the whole world - most honest, gentle and humble man I’ve ever known. But he wasn’t humble in the Biblical sense. He refused to submit to God. Therefore, in the midst of his natural humility, which made him a wonderful person, he was full of pride. He was the sweetest man I knew in this world - but to say, “No!” to God - that’s takes a lot of hutzpah.
Don’t let natural humility deceive you or others - natural humility is not necessarily Godly humility, and it’s not saving humility.
So, what is true humility?
Let’s get into Philippians 2 and we’ll answer that as we go along.
Philippians 2:1–2 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Unity in the Body is essential. Evil forces and our own humanness will get in the way. We must fight for unity of faith. How do we do that? One way is this …
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Selfish ambition - my success, advancement, my glory at the expense of others.
Conceit - delusional self-perception.
- thinking too high. I would imagine that this could go both ways - thinking too low), but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let’s stop here for a moment.
No command here in the Greek. In essence, this is a strong suggestion by the Apostle Paul - in humility …. However, elsewhere, we see the command.
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Colossians 3:12 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Jesus was humble - we’re commanded to be humble.
True humility is an essential characteristic of the servant of Christ.
We are to pursue humility as much as the other traits of Jesus. Humility is a way of life for the one who desires to be like Jesus.
Richard Baxter (17th Century clergyman in the Church of England) said,
“Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian, but an essential part of the new creature. It is a contradiction to be a sanctified man, or a true Christian, and not humble.” Richard Baxter (1615-1691).
So what is true humility? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, humility is freedom from pride or arrogance. Again, true but surface. True humility goes a little deeper. In my studies this week, I read various quotes from historical figures of Christianity - wanted to know what they thought. I noticed a common thread. For instance, Andrew Murray said this -
“The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself, he simply does not think of himself at all.” Andrew Murray
Teresa of Avila wrote,
“We shall never be able to know ourselves, except we endeavour to know God. By considering His greatness, we discover our own baseness; by contemplating His purity, we discover our own filthiness, and beholding His humility, we shall discover how far we are from being truly humble. Teresa of Avila
Here’s the common thread - the more we draw near to God, the more our sinfulness is revealed, thus the lower we go. I don’t disagree, but
That theology misses the full spectrum of spiritual transformation - specifically in living a sanctified or holy life.
We are called to be sons and daughters of God - and yes, He needs to reveal our sinfulness - but not to make us nothing, or beat us down and keep us down, but to get rid of that which hinders us and then build us up in Christlikeness. According to Andrew Murray and others, humility is the full realization of how rotten we are and the absence of any self-consideration. I’m not convinced that’s entirely accurate.
I developed what I believe to be more of a Biblical definition of humility. It’s a little lengthy, so I’ll read it then summarize. This is all through the transformation power of the Spirit ….
True humility is possessing a proper perspective and recognition of my value and position in Christ, which empowers me to exhibit a proper perspective and recognition of the value and position of others in relation to Christ.
From now on, when someone asks how do you define humility - there you go. I know that’s a mouthful - join us in Sunday school after service.
But let me say it a little differently -
True humility is full submission to God, which then enables me to have a genuine acceptance of who I truly am in Christ, which then empowers me to have true humility in serving others.
2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
Matt. 22:37 - Love the Lord your God ….
That is true humility.
True humility is not natural, it is a result of spiritual transformation.
It’s about renewing our minds to know Yahweh as our Sovereign God and as our Loving Father. It’s about renewing our minds so that we don’t think too high or too low of self and others. True humility is about becoming secure in our identity in Christ so we can see others the way God wants us to see them. And as that takes place, in humility, we can
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
count others more significant than ourselves. And we can look (skopeō - contemplate - to give consideration to) not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others.
See, when our significance and value come from our Father in Heaven, when we receive His unconditional love, when we fully accept that we are His sons and daughters - we no longer need to fight for a place or for significance - we have it! And when we have it - we can give it.
So how do we become truly humble? If it’s a result of transformation, then we must be what? Transformed. Romans 12, Ephesians 4, Col 3 and Scriptures tell us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit learn to think correctly about God, self and others.
Paul wrote to the Ephesian church,
Ephesians 4:22–24 ESV
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Philippians 2:5–8 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Being renewed means learning to think and live the way God designed us to. If we’re not renewing our minds through the Word and Spirit of God, we’ll have trouble with humility. But here’s the good news - we can learn to think and live like Jesus.
So how do we gain humility? Let’s learn from our Savior …
Did you catch something? Jesus, in the nature of God took on the nature of a servant.
See, Jesus wasn’t concerned about His status - because His status was in His Sonship …
Philippians 2:9–13 ESV
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
True humility generates a servant mindset.
At the beginning, I said, Jesus’
His humility was always connected to advancing the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus said,
John 12:26 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Galatians 5:22–26 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We need the indwelling Holy Spirit.
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