This message is about what you want.
If you made a Top Ten list, what would be on your list?
Recently, a man shot innocent young people in a church in Texas
because of something the man did not like. What do you suppose was on
his list of things that he wanted?
What do you suppose the survivors in Texas want today?
If you had to choose between being perfectly healthy with a perfect
body, or having a perfect spirit with a perfect heart, which would it be
Here is an essential truth. It may be hard to swallow but here it
is...what you want and the idea of humility don’t go together.
"Matthew 18: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and
asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 He
called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said:
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore,
whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. 5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this
in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large
millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the
sea. 7 "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to
sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it
away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have
two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye
causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you
to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the
fire of hell. 10 "See that you do not look down on one of these
little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the
face of my Father in heaven." (NIV)
In his prime, Muhammad Ali would shout, "I am the
greatest." In private, he might have been a very different person.
Ali once said, "At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the
world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far."
Muhammad Ali (b. 1942), U.S. boxer. Sunday Express
(London, 13 Jan. 1963).
His loud mouth is now but a whisper. He is learning about humility
the hard way.His strong body is now pretty weak.
In our world of "wants" we want status. Someone once asked
me, "Do you want to be big in the ministry?" I am still
appalled at the question and the thought.
We want power. We want personal power, Holy Spirit power, healing
power, power over pain, power over adversity, power over opponents,
power over our health. We will pay to get the power or pay to find out
how to get it. We buy a lot of books, watch TV, and a lot of folks go to
church to get power.
We want control. We want control over our lives. The disciples
question to Jesus was about power and greatness. I have secular books on
secular power and greatness. Some of you also have books on power and
greatness. I have read books by Napoleon Hill which deal with how to be
successful. In many respects the success books of the early part of this
century, and many of the books of today, try to help people find a way
of seeking greatness in the eyes of men.
Look at these verses again.
"2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And
he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like
little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven." (NIV)
Notice that Jesus used the word "Never." Jesus said the
only way the door to heaven is opened is if we are humble. He said the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven are the humble.
Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a
hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are
first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (NIV)
If the man in Texas who killed these young people had adopted an
attitude of humility although he might have been disturbed, maybe he
would not have shot them. Maybe he would have been able to admit he
needed help. Maybe he would have been able to admit his mistakes, his
shortcomings, his faults, his pain, and his troubles.
Humility means being of humble spirit, and/or being a person of
modesty. When we lower ourselves down, intentionally, on purpose, with
our own self-control we are humble. Being humble or being a person of
humility means we do not pretend anything. It means we have in us a
quietness and peace about us. Being humble means we are harmless and
defenseless. It means we do not take the offensive. Humility brings with
it the idea of our being harmless and submissive.
Humility requires that we recognize we have fallen short of God’s
call upon our lives to change who we are. Humility requires we recognize
our sin, and that we have fallen on our knees before Christ on the
cross. This idea related to humility is an idea of contrition.
The world does not like humble people. Humble people are called
names. A humble person is referred to as "a mouse," "a
geek," "a shrinking violet," "a worm," or
An English judge, in the 1600’s, poked fun (I hope) at the
Christian’s desire to be humble but he pointed out we have trouble
getting there. He noted, "Humility is a virtue all preach, none
practise, and yet everybody is content to hear. The master thinks it
good doctrine for his servant, the laity for the clergy, and the clergy
for the laity." John Selden (1584–1654), English jurist,
statesman. Table Talk, "Humility" (1686).
Humility that is imposed on someone is called humiliation. Humility
must never be imposed on someone. Humility is something we must find or
come to in our spiritual lives, of our own free will. Not only will our
pride, ego, and selfishness keep us out of heaven, our pride, ego, and
selfishness will destroy other people by humiliating them in the here
Humiliation is a horrible feeling. It can be devastating and hurt so
deeply it can nearly rip out a person’s soul. Humiliation can leave
people scarred for life. People of humility never do anything to
humiliate another person. Instead, we are called to build up others, not
tear them down. Jesus calls us to go the extra mile with people, to love
them, to care about them, to never be critical of them.
When we respect someone, we are humble with him or her. When we are
humble we do not criticize others or find fault with them. In the
church, we use the word penitence, which means essentially that we adopt
an attitude of humility. When we are humble we do not try to take away
another person’s power.
Here Is Humility In Action
Matthew 5: 38 "You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye,
and tooth for tooth.' 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have
your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him
two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from
the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 "You have heard that it
was said, `Love your neighborH and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you:
Love your enemiesI and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may
be sons of your Father in heaven. (NIV)
In raising children, we are to teach them humility but not humiliate
Matthew 18:6 "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large
millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the
Our pride, ego, and selfishness keep us from being persons of
humility. When we put what we want out in front of us, we are not being
humble. Of all the things that keep people out of the kingdom of heaven,
putting what we want in front of us is it. We can have our top ten list
but we are supposed to burn it.
In 1920, a British socialite had a great perspective as to how
humility fits into our lives.
"The first element of greatness is fundamental humbleness (this
should not be confused with servility); the second is freedom from self;
the third is intrepid courage, which, taken in its widest
interpretation, generally goes with truth; and the fourth— the power
to love— although I have put it last, is the rarest." Margot
Asquith (1864–1945), British socialite. The Autobiography of
Margot Asquith, vol. 1, ch. 8 (1920).
Here is a verse about the aftermath of pride.
"Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with
humility comes wisdom." (NIV)
There are advantages to humility.
The big advantage is we get to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Moreover,
in many ways we can receive the blessings of the Kingdom here on earth
by being a person of humility. When we are humble before God, when we
are kneeling at the cross, then we are transformed. By kneeling at the
Cross, we go from being the ego-driven person, the selfish person, the
person who is always "wanting" to a person who is always
looking to give rather than receive. When we kneel at the foot of the
Cross, we are transformed and we gain a peace and love which come to us
because of our humility before Christ and His suffering. When we pray or
we serve others, we should be anonymous about it because we are called
to be humble. When we serve others and then want the recognition our
pride and ego is driving us.
Most people think humility results in poverty, lack of fortune, being
run over, pushed down, stepped on, or crushed. Instead, just the
opposite in true. In Proverbs, we read about some of the possible
earthly benefits of humility.
Proverbs 22: "4Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth
and honor and life." (NIV)
Humility cancels out fear. If you are afraid of something it may mean
you are trying to handle it all yourself. Real humility can give you
courage by giving whatever you are afraid of to God. There are some
things in life over which we have no control. There are some situations
that overwhelm us or overtake us. Humility lets us recognize there are
things we cannot handle. Then humility enables us to give these things
Life brings challenges to us every hour. The world around us has many
measures of success and it has many avenues to wealth, honor, and life.
However, Jesus’ way to success is not like the world’s way. What is
not widely known is that Jesus’ way always works. Jesus’ way works
every time. Jesus’ way never fails. His way is the way to the top.
Jesus’ way is not only the way to the top in the spiritual world and
but also Jesus’ way can also lead us to the top in this world if we
aspire to be at the top in the spiritual world.
Humility can also work in the real world. Here’s how…
If you are humble, you begin to start thinking clearly about what others
want instead of what you want. By being humble, you are not always
looking out for yourself. Instead, you are keenly aware of the wants and
needs of others. As you seek to meet these wants and needs of others
then people begin to notice this quality of greatness in you. As others
notice that you are so often thinking about them, they start thinking
well of you. When new opportunities arise then the first person others
think of is...YOU!
The apostle Paul was a giant of the faith. We could not begin to
measure his impact on the world. In addition, he did it all through
humility. Look at Paul’s words about humility.
"Acts 20: 18: "You know how I lived the whole time I was
with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19I
served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was
severely tested by the plots of the Jews." (NIV)
The Search for Power
As we said before, people want power. They want "personal
power," "Holy Spirit power," "healing power,"
"God power," "you name it and claim it power," and
in this search for power, humility is ignored. Be careful about what you
read and hear from people of God. Be careful, because today humility is
not attacked openly as much as it is ignored. In the Apostle Paul’s
ministry, legalism was the way to God. Not humility, but legalism.
Legalism is making sure you celebrated the right festival days, ate the
right diet, or carried out the right ceremony. Although these
celebrations were supposed to be spiritual, they actually led people
away from God. They led people away from humility and the kingdom of
heaven. In our day, in the 90’s, people want to hear about getting and
staying healthy and how to be prosperous in the name of Jesus.
Paul wrote to the people in Colosse who were caught up in legalism.
These people wanted a whole spiritual life. Paul tells this church (and
us) that true fullness and true humility is found only in Christ.
"Collisions 2: 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what
you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon
celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that
were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let
anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels
disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about
what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle
notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole
body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as
God causes it to grow." (NIV)
Humility and Leadership
Paul’s letter to Titus deals with church leadership and the style
of leadership we are supposed to exhibit. Paul tells Titus that humility
in action is the way church leaders should behave.
"Titus 3:1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and
authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to
slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true
humility toward all men. 3 At one time we too were foolish,
disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and
pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one
another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of
his mercy." (NIV)
Peter also spoke of humility.
1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are
older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the
humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand,
that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you. 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the
devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your
brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of
Of all the people who needed to learn the lesson of humility it was
Peter. Peter was the least humble of the apostles. He did not know what
being truly humble and submissive meant early on in his faith. However,
later, when he was crucified, he insisted on being crucified upside
down, as an act of humility.
Humility is the way to heaven. It is the way to greatness in the eyes
of God. Humility may bring with it sufferings in this life. However, at
the split second beyond this life, there is greatness because we have
chosen to be humble people of God.