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3. The Greatness of humility. TEMC. Jan 21. 07

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The Greatness of Humility.

TEMC. Jan 21,07

Jesus says he who humbles himself will be exalted. But he who exalts himself will be humbled. There were in Jesus day no shortage of people who wanted to be at the top, who wanted to be looked at, admired, praised and given honor. The same is true today. But it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.

Jesus was a humble man when he walked this earth. The character of God is one of deep humility. There is no humility deeper than the humility of God. And God demonstrated that humility to us when Jesus Christ came as a baby, grew up as a man, taught and walked among us and then chose to allow himself to be crucified for our sins. Jesus calls us to follow that.

Of all the dreams, ambitions and goals we have in life, humility is a part of God that must be a part of us for our life to have any meaning at all. If we want  a relationship, a connection with God, there is only ONE way to have it, and that is through humility.

TRUTH:  There is no other way to live in humility, than through self denial. No one who enters the gates of heaven, will enter proudly. We all come humbly. We can never come proudly.

Christ demonstrated for us the importance of humility. Jesus lived in perfect humility.I think we might be surprised to see what that looks like. By the time we end this message this morning, it is my desire that we will have come to a clearer understanding what true humility looks like.

Humility is one ingredient which we can’t afford to live without. If we try to live our Christian life with pride, we soon fail. Living in pride is possible here and now, and many do, but it is not possible to live in pride and be pleasing to God at the same time.  All of us fail at times because sometimes we lack humility. We can repent and go back to God when we do fail, but we must never lose sight of our need for a humble spirit.

In this life we do well to look at Jesus and learn from him the humility he live out. Humility is a decision we can all make and must make for ourselves. Humility is one of the areas where the devil will repeatedly trip us up and make us think we have it,  just after we have lost it.

Lets look at Jesus and see how he practiced his life of humility while he was on earth.

Read with me Hebrews 2:5-18

1         Christ’s destiny. Here the scriptures tell us that Christ will be the final ruler, the king of kings and Lord of Lords. It won’t be angels ruling the world to come. And, in case anyone is wondering, it won’t be a world where people will be in charge either. In the world to come, of which the bible speaks, Jesus Christ himself will rule as Lord. That is a truth we must recon with.

a)    At this point in the history of the world, things are not yet as they should be. And things are not yet as they will be either. The world the way it is now will be destroyed by fire. The bible tells us that. But the world to come will be a world of peace and justice.

b)   Presently there is much that is not right and that needs changing. But in the end, God will be the sole ruler of everything.

c)    Christ’s destiny is ownership. It is not to angels that he will subject the worlds to come.  Ownership of the universe, ownership of life, ownership of you and me.

d)   When Jesus walked this earth, he didn’t come as an owner. He came as a servant. That is a sign of deep humility. But we know where he is now.

2         Christ’s road to Glory.  ( How he got there and how we will go there.)

a)    The world and God have a different view on how to go to greatness. When the world offers us greatness, it does so with various views  in mind.

i)        “Become great at the expense of others”. “ Use others to your advantage.” “Don’t ask what you can do for others, have others do for you what you want.”  It is about control, power and self preservation.  

ii)       The teachings of Jesus to turn the other cheek are not part of their life. I am not saying that you have to cave in to evil, or allow evil to take control of your life. I worked for a company where things were extremely busy, so once where every so many days we got one work day off. Once when it was my day off, I was looking forward to spending it with my family, and there was this guy and he asked me: “ Do you need your day off?”  he was a very selfish guy who only thought of himself. He would never have considered giving up his time off, but he had the audacity to ask me to give him my day off. I simply said, ‘no.’ I was not rude, or mean. I just told him I was going to take my day off. I just stuck to the rules the boss had laid out.

iii)     Another view is to look out for number one – save up, store up, hoard if you have to, but look out for number one – me, you.

b)   God’s view of greatness is the opposite. With God greatness is what happens when

i)        I put your needs before my own. NOT YOUR WANTS. You have a need that I am blessed to meet and consider it a privilege to do so and not an obligation.

ii)       Meeting others needs doesn’t mean gratifying a selfish lifestyle of another person. I have in the past had people come to me who wanted to borrow money to do things my wife  and I could not afford. I have a policy that I don’t borrow money for things that are not needs. If it is a need, then I give the money if I can.

iii)     With God we are on the road to greatness When our burdens become each others burdens. What gives you pain causes me pain. We share our burdens. There is community, fellowship.

iv)     With God greatness is in how much I can give. Give where it is needed. God demonstrated that very clearly in Jesus Christ.

c)    Jesus came to earth to bring us back to glory at HIS expense. We were created to bring God glory. God made us good, holy and perfect but due to sin we lost that. Jesus came to restore that – at his expense.

d)   The road to restoration is in the opposite direction it took us to get where we are now. We came here via the wide road of destruction. We can only go back on the narrow road of suffering.

e)    V 10. Christ took the road of suffering for us already. He not only opened the road back, he also walked it for us. It cost him every thing.

3         Christ’s price for glory. It was a life of suffering on earth.

a)    He laid aside the glories of heaven, his power and majesty, and became a suffering servant. I found an outline of the humility of Christ, I want to share it here:

i)        Christ's Humility He was Free from all Worldly Pride. The world takes pride in a lot of areas. Jesus stayed away from all of those.

ii)       Free from pride of Appearance--He hath no form nor comeliness {#Isa 53:2} he was nothing special to look at. He had no appearance of royalty. No plastic surgery, paint or decorating to make him look like something he was not. He was ok the way the ordinary people looked.

iii)     Free from pride of Worldly success--He is despised and rejected of men {#Isa 53:3}He had no agenda, no plans for money or wealth. He was  a man who could not be bought. Satan tried. Satan promised Jesus the world if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. Today many people bow before Satan for a lot less than the world. They will bow for a few dollars.

iv)     Free from pride of Reputation--He shall be called a Nazarene {#Mt 2:23}Jesus didn’t care about his origins. Some people are ashamed where they come from, who their parents are – Jesus didn’t care because it didn’t matter – it never matters.

v)      Free from pride of Riches--He hath not where to lay his head {#Mt 8:20} Jesus owned no real-estate, he had no house, car, not even a bicycle. He just walked wherever he went. There were no RRSPs for him, no Pension plans, he didn’t even have a regular income. He depended on the goodwill and generosity of some friends of his. Money had no hold on him.

vi)     Free from pride of Rank--Is not this the carpenter's son? {#Mt 13:55}He didn’t have any degrees or diplomas hanging on his wall, he didn’t have an office. He was called Rabbi, - he was a teacher and very often that very title just caused him problems. He once refused to be called ‘good’. He very intentionally deflected all attention away from him. He told his disciples that they were all equals and no one among them should be higher than the other.

vii)   Free from pride of Kingship--He washed the disciples' feet {#Joh 13:5}When he could have pointed to his disciples to get to work, wash feet, serve food, he was the one taking the initiative and doing the work of  a slave. We can’t begin to imagine what this looks like in real life.

(a)    Imagine a rich man – Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or some other rich guy, going into a poor city, working among the ghettos. We can’t see it, but that is what Jesus did for us – only on an infinitely greater scale.

(2)        That, is true humility.

(3)        In case we think that Jesus went through all of that- but he knew he would win – think of this – for Jesus the pain is no more over than it is for us.

b)   The pain of Christ is still not over. Just because he went to heaven to prepare a place for us, he is still present in the Holy Spirit, and the spirit is grieved. In world war 2, the Nazi government of Germany was killing many Jews and other innocent people. Even children. One day there was an execution going on in one of the prison camps. There was a hanging taking place. Three people were getting hanged. Two men and one young boy. The boy was perhaps ten years old. They hung the men and the boy. The men died rather quickly. The boy didn’t, but slowly died because he was not heavy enough for the rope to cut off his air. He hung there and died slowly.

c)    Later, one man asked: “ What kind of God is that, that allows something like that to happen? “Where is God?” the response was:  God was right there, on that gallows he died there too.

d)   Every time a sin is committed, it strikes at the heart of God’s laws. It is a contradiction to the holiness of God and there is a price to pay, and Christ suffers for it. And the reason all of the misery and poverty, crime and all the ugly stuff in the world exists, the reason for all if it is rooted in one simple word “ PRIDE” I will do as I please and you mind your own business. And if you get in my way – tough.”

e)    Every time when pride takes first place, humility is missing. Humility and pride can never occupy the same heart. We have lived as a society for so long now like that, I am not sure anymore that it is possible to avoid severe judgment.

f)     The world has seen what is going and still there is no let up in the evil we see.

4         This world’s search for glory. Of all the places and ways, one is a very obvious one. Divorce. I think that this is one of the critical areas where our nation is failing, and we as Mennonites are falling right into this trap. I could focus on a lot of areas, but I pick this one because I came across it this week in my readings.

a)   Mcleans Magazine, Jan 29, 07 issue ( came out last week) carried an article on divorce among – not younger rich couples – no – older couples. Couples married 20, 30, 40 and 50 years are divorcing each other.

i)        Some thoughts: the writer mentions that the feminist movement in the 70s prepared women for this. That was an age when women were encourage by society to go out and live like the men do, get a job, don’t raise a family, live your life to the full, explore your options, find yourself. Now those seeds are bearing fruit and it is ugly. Listen to what some of them said.

ii)      One woman was sick in the Hospital, got a kidney transplant and when she work up she said: “ I don’t know how many years I have, I just know I don’t want to spend them with you.”  There was a woman on an airplane that was going to make a crash landing and she said to herself; “ If I get out of this, I am getting a divorce.” Another woman in Texas whose son was injured in a football game said, “ Dear God, let him survive, and if he does, I’ll get a divorce and make a better life for my kids.”

iii)    The surprising thing in all of this is that there is no sense of shame or failure here. People coming from church backgrounds feel no stigma. What they do regret is that their church won’t take them in or that they are not as welcome in social settings.

iv)    These people as a norm, don’t agonize over breaking their marriage vows. In fact, for them it is almost a sense of relief.

v)      Some of these people, after their divorce can’t get over how their lives are turning out. They get together in different ways. Others find out too late that it is not working and still just blame the other party. One woman said: “ I will make that “blankety blank” pay for the rest of his life.” As a Christian one can see clearly the noose Satan has around that person’s heart and the person still believes that everything is the other’s fault.

vi)    One woman, got dumped by her husband, went away, got plastic surgery, changed her name, and moved away. It is all a desperate attempt to satisfy a dying idol that could never live up to it’s promises in the first place.

vii)  The effects on the children. The writer interviewed children of couples who had divorced late in life. It impacted them deeply.

viii)            This divorce trend increase is not the young. It is in the age group over 50.  there is now a drift to ‘older divorce’.

ix)    One lawyer, who is already married for the third time predicts that in 50 years from now we will do with marriages what we do with houses. We will have first the starter marriage, then we will have the raising children marriage, and lastly we will have the companionship marriage. That is a sad, but I am afraid perhaps true statement.

5         What is our solution?

a)   The road of the cross. See Hebrews 2:14-18. (read).

b)   Jesus is God’s high priest. A priest is the one who makes a sacrifice for sins that have been committed. Blood is used to pay for the wrong done. Jesus is that for us before God.

c)    Jesus took upon himself our circumstances, our flesh and blood to identify with us to be able to take us back to where we belong – free from the power of the devil.

d)   Jesus came specifically for people – you and me. Freedom from a fear of death. That is what the world is trying to avoid, to run away from and by doing what they are doing, they are running right into it full speed.

e)   V 18. because he suffered, he can help us. There is only one way out of this world. That is through the cross of Jesus. There is nothing fancy about it or even pleasant. But it is a road that is sure that it leads us to where we become like Jesus. A life of true humility. Do we want that? Do we have that?  

6         What is our responsibility? Have we lost our humility?

a)   Pay careful attention as it mentions early in the chapter. There are some clear signs that we can recognize when we are losing our humility. What are my priorities? What do I give most attention to?

b)   Stay away from the edge. There is a danger here also of going off the other side. The side of the Pharisees. They were men who would never have considered doing anything that was not allowed in the bible, but they did their good deeds for the same reason the sinners were doing their bad deeds. They too were not humble.

c)    Recognize the nature of humility. Humility is something so unique, that those who make it their goal to attain it, usually miss it. I like to compare humility to the same thing  C.S. Lewis described worship. C.S. Lewis said that the best worship service is a service, in which you are not aware that you are worshipping. You are so into what you are doing, that the doing is second nature, and the joy of the event overpowers all else.  C.S.Lewis compared a good worship service to a shoe. When you have a good shoe, it is comfortable, but you forget that you are having it on because it is so comfortable. You just enjoy it without being aware that it is on your foot.

d)   Be a true servant.  I have sometimes observed people when they serve. In time you can tell who is serving humbly and who is not. People who give up easy, who are easily hurt, or who easily get puffed up and have a need to demonstrate their talent – those people are not serving in humility.

e)    Be open to correction. Whenever my service to God can be controlled by the responses of those around me, I have not served humbly.

f)     Monitor our own hearts. Humility is something we can know when we lose it, but is something we are not aware of when we have it.

g)    When we become self focused, we have lost it.

(a)    None are so empty as those who are full of themselves. —Benjamin Whichcote

ii)       Humble people are careful with their words.

(a)    True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes. —Edward Frederick Halifax

(b)   Someone once said: “ I would rather have people wonder why there is no statue of me, than wonder why there is.” - Unknown.

h)   Humility is said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice (structure, building). The virtue is inferior only second to faith's foundation. Humility is the first virtue inasmuch as it removes the obstacles to faith -- per modum removens prohibens, as St. Thomas says. It removes pride and makes a man subject to and a fit recipient of grace according to the words of St. James: "God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve, nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.--T. S. Eliot

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.--The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier

God loves your fault mixed with penitence more than your virtue seasoned with pride.”

—Walter Baxendale

The spiritual life is impossible without the virtue of humility. Humility of heart is a great treasure because it keeps us honest, cutting away self-deception, falsehood, and inauthenticity. It forces us to be real, even when it is uncomfortable. It rescues us from superficiality, and compels us to always be true to ourselves and to others. Humility of  heart forces us to stand in the light of truth. Humility is a difficult virtue, but it is  indispensable to progress in the interior life...

Jesus showed us the true road to greatness. It was for him  a journey that led him down to the valley of death, death on a cross. If you want to be humble, and humble we must be if we want to follow Jesus, we too will have to die on our own cross as well.

True greatness waits for all those who follow the road of humility in Christ. It is the road that leads to heaven. It leads to true greatness. The greatness of humility is that it is the only road that is not a dead end. It is the only road that leads to heaven.

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