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Previous Message From Virtual Church

About Humility

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 and why?

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 "a wimp."

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 and now.

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 them.

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 sea."(NIV)

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.

Greatness

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 to God.

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 sufferings." (NIV)

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018