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O Lord, It's Hard to be Humble

The Path of Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We are weak yet He is strong.

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We are weak, but He is strong.

Can I make a little confession to you?
My faith in Jesus causes me to have a little knot in my stomach every now and then.
Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound all pastoral and holy and such, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
See, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Heck, I don’t even know what today will bring.
And I know - and the Lord has proven to me - that He is always going to do what is best for His glory.
And He’s going to do what is best for me - that will make me more and more like Jesus.
Everyone with me - everyone believe that?
I do.
But see, I’ve read the Bible and I believe it.
But in Isaiah, the Lord says, Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
And while I think winning a couple of hundred million in the lottery would suit me well.
The Lord thinks a 2012 Chevy Impala is more my style.
So there is a tension that lives in me - which I think is actually kind of healthy.
I know that the Lord is good and is fully, 100% trustworthy.
That He loves us and His goodness abounds for all of us.
I know that He controls the rising of the sun, the wind, the waves and everything in between.
But I do not presume upon Him.
Our text this week tells me that what I’m saying to you is O.K. with Jesus.
Open your Bibles if you would to James 4.
We’ll read from verse 11 to chapter 5, verse 6.
As we read and listen, at first blush it sounds a little bit like James is coming down on us pretty hard.
And everything he talks about, we’ve done.
But James isn’t intent on sending us home feeling like worm dirt.
He’s going to send us home remembering what He said the other day.
James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you...”
Hear the Word of the Lord and see if you can hear the grace coming through.
James 4:11–5:6 ESV
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Keep this in mind right quick - this letter is written to Christians.
While it certainly fits with a lot of things going on in the world right now - James isn’t looking at the world.
He’s looking at the Church, the Body of Christ.
In fact, he’s down to the granular level.
He’s looked around and he’s seen how rotten we treat each other sometimes, and he makes three points.
The first point is this:

We forget we are weak and insecure

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
We all know bullies right?
And churches have bullies too.
And we all know know-it-all’s - churches have those too.
And Eeyore’s - folks that rain clouds follow them everywhere they go.
And Tigger’s - folks who are so full of life it drives you bonkers.
And Winnie the Poohs - people who are mostly clueless but friendly and kind.
And Piglet - our little voice of reason.
And then there is us - and we have a theme song:
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me, I must be one heck of a guy.
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can.
Maybe we don’t say that out loud - but that is James’ point - it’s hard for us to be humble because we forget we are weak and insecure.
Now, what evidence does he give that we are weak and insecure.

Evidence #1: We talk bad about other Christians.

When we talk bad a brother or sister, that tells us that it’s hard for us to be humble.
James has been all about loving our neighbor as ourselves - he’s mentioned it repeatedly.
But when we put down a brother or sister, we replace that law of love with the law of denigration.
And the scary part of that is this - the law of love was written by the Lord.
Any other law is ours.
So our actions are saying that our law is preferred over the Lord’s law.
That we are smarter and more fair than the Lord.
Kind of makes you wince, doesn’t it?
“Now Pastor Randy, that’s not what I mean to do.”
I know that and that’s why James is calling us out on it.
We don’t mean to do that - that’s not our intent.
But we are weak and insecure.
And weak and insecure people do things to make ourselves not feel weak and insecure.
All the while missing the point - the Lord gave His law so we wouldn’t feel weak and insecure.
The Lord has no problems with His identity,
He has no problems with His self-esteem,
He has no problems with His self-confidence.
So, the very thing we want is the very thing the Lord wants us to have.
We just forget.
What other evidence does James give that we are weak and insecure?

Evidence #2: We believe we are masters of our own fate

James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—”
Listen to what that one little sentence says - “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town...”
Remember when we talked about Centrikid camp a few weeks back, remember that on Sunday night while we were preparing to go...
A couple of hundred miles north of us, they were deciding whether we could go or not because so many of the staff got sick.
Hannah and her friend bought a tour to Greece and got all fired up and ready to go.
And - Covid.
In both cases, the same circumstance - Covid.
One situation turned out one way, one situation turned out another.
And in both cases, we were ignorant - we had no clue that there were things at work in the background that might wreck our plans.
We don’t know what is right around the corner.
I bet you’ve done this.
You’re getting ready to go somewhere.
You stop and say to yourself: “Have I got everything?”
Then, once you get there, how many times did you end up at the store because you didn’t have everything?
We don’t know what we don’t know.
Look at what else that sentence says: James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there...”
I will go to that town and spend a year there.
Our perception of time is a problem.
We see life as circular.
Don’t we?
When you are crazy busy, “I feel like I was running in circles all day.”
We get up - we go to bed - then we get up and we go to bed - then we get up and go to bed.
Spring comes - then summer - the fall - then winter - then spring again.
Easter comes - the 4th of July - Thanksgiving - Christmas - and then Easter again.
Every year we have a birthday.
Every year an anniversary.
School comes every August.
In the great philosophical classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Clarice sings to Rudolph, “There’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true...”
Harry Chapin sang, “All my life is a circle, sunrise and sundown...”
For us, we go to bed expecting to wake up in the morning.
And we’ll go to this town and we’ll wake up there 365 times.
We forget how frail we are.
How many times have people left home to go somewhere - and they never came back?
And that sentence says one more thing: James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—”
We’ll go there “and make a profit.”
We’ll be successful.
That with the right planning and the motivation, we can do anything.
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
“Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.”
“Believe in yourself and anything is possible.”
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
“You can do anything you set your mind to do.”
Forgetting all along, our dependence on the Lord for everything.
A recent British documentary puts it into perspective for us.
“We owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.”

Evidence #3 - We accumulate wealth

In chapter 5, James talks about rich people again and he’s pretty pointed.
He’s not saying that a Christian can’t be rich.
But he is saying that a Christian can’t be a money hoarder.
James 5:3 “Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.”
Let’s suppose you have a flashlight that you use in your job everyday.
Over time the batteries wear out, right?
So you pitch the old ones and you put in some new.
Flashlight works - that’s how it’s supposed to go.
Now, let’s suppose you have a flashlight you keep in the drawer for emergency use.
And you have no emergencies.
For months and months and maybe years.
Then one day, lightning knocks the power out.
You go to the drawer - you get the flashlight - and - nothing.
You unscrew the battery compartment and it’s full of corroded batteries.
Why did that happen?
I can’t give you the science, but I can give you this: You didn’t use the flashlight.
If you had used it, you would have noticed the batteries were getting weak.
But you didn’t use it - you stored it up.
That’s James’ image - “Your gold and silver have corroded.”
They’ve tarnished - because you haven’t used it.
Gold and silver are tools God gives us to use for His glory.
And the fact that it sat there and sat there so long that it got tarnished - that’s evidence you didn’t use it as He expected you to.
It’s evidence against you.
And it proves a lack of faith in the Lord.
I can’t completely trust You to take care of me, so I’ve got to make sure I take care of me - even if it means excluding my brother or sister.
All of this is caused because we forget we are weak and insecure and:

We forget His greatness and strength

Now remember, we are talking about us here - Christians - brothers and sisters in Christ.
All of these things we’ve talked about - most of them we’ve done.
And been ashamed of doing them.
They all happen to us because we forget the greatness and strength of God.
We forget that He gave us the law so that we could learn to be more like Him.
That we could grow in wisdom, and worry less and fret less.
That our measure of success wouldn’t be how many baubles we accumulated but in how much of God’s goodness we can give.
One of the sad things about hoarded wealth to me is this - one day we will all die.
And all of that money will be meaningless.
Some of your relatives might fight over it.
People you don’t like might spend it.
And your bank book will become a dusty old relic tossed into the back of an abandoned file cabinet one day.
We forget that our lives don’t stop here.
Romans 6:3-4 says:
Romans 6:3–4 ESV
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
We were baptized into His death.
We were buried with him by baptism.
We were raised from the dead with him so we might have a brand new life.
For as long as the Lord wills, we will live on this earth.
But when He calls us home, we’re going to go home.
We will not die - we’ll simply leave.
Because of His greatness and His strength.
And He knows that this scares us.
James’ says the Lord hears the cries of His oppressed.
He hears our cries.
He hears the cries of our brothers and sisters being persecuted around the world.
He hears the cries of our poor brothers and sisters who weep for the necessities of life.
He hears when we are oppressed.
He hears when we are mistreated.
He hears when our hearts are breaking.
And He hears us in our joy.
James 5:6 is an odd sentence, until you think about it.
James 5:6 “You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver.
A righteous man - the only righteous man to ever live.
They gathered Him up, they condemned him and they murdered Him.
And He did not resist them.
So He could die.
So the Father could resurrect Him.
So He could ascend to the right hand of the Father.
Because He heard our cries.
So He made a way.
John 1:12 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
And that’s what we are, brothers and sisters.
As ashamed as we might be of ourselves sometimes, never forget.
He washed us clean.
He’s making us strong like Him every day.
And one day, when He decides it’s time, He’ll tell the Father we are His brother.
And the Father will welcome us home.
And the more we remember this, the better we will treat one another.
Let us pray:
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