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Message Monday: Practical Humility

17 Oct

Intro:

  • In His book Humility C.J. Mahaney offers this definition for humility: “Humility is honestly addressing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness”.
  • From this definition Mahaney then spends the remainder of his 200 page book exploring and explaining that definition and is biblical basis.
  • While we do not have that kind of time this morning, we do want to consider whether or not we are humble biblically.
  • Most of us know how to act humble, but humility is just an act if we do not have an inwardly humble heart.
    • People will congratulate us on a job well done and we will say it was really nothing, but on the insider we relish the accolades.
    • We will not volunteer for jobs in the church, but wait on someone to ask us to serve, so that we will not look braggadocios. Secretly we enjoying the affirmation of someone coming to us, and expect that people will ask us to take that job again.
    • In the south we are masters of the polite insult, and the tactful complaint.
      • Have you ever heard a southern lady say something like this, “I wanted to check and make sure that you received the gift because I never received a thank you note.”
      • Or maybe when someone offends us we will say a phrase like, “Well bless their hearts.”
      • On the surface phrases like that sound very humble and kind, but we all know that they are veneers for a seething outrage that we could be treated that way.

 

Hook:

  • We may allow others to go before ourselves, we may hold doors for every person, we may never take credit, and we may wait for others to ask us to serve but do we do any of this because we honestly evaluate ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness?
  • Today I would like to help you see four ways to practice genuine humility in your heart and mind.

Message Points:

  • Last week, as we picked up our study in Philippians again we saw Paul focus very heavily on the need for us to have like-mindedness and a unity of love, spirit and purpose.
  • In these verse he then tells us the kind of unity and like-mindedness he desires for believers to have.
  • Verses three and four offer us two commands while verses five through eleven give us two observations about Christ’s example for us.
  • So our 1st point is one of those commands: We practice humility in the way we evaluate ourselves (2:3)
    • Notice how this is a compound command with two parts.
    • The first part tells us what not to do: namely we should not act out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
    • What Paul is saying by using the phrase do nothing is that it is never acceptable to act out of our pride.
    • So the natural question we must ask ourselves: is it ever acceptable to experience pride?
      • Should we be proud as students when we pass a test or receive a good grade on a project we poured lots of time into?
      • Should we feel pride as parents or grandparents in the way our children are turning out?
      • Should we feel a sense of personal fulfillment when we give ourselves to work hard and finish in a job well done?
      • Should we be proud of our church when someone is baptized or a building is complete or we see ministries we support succeed?
    • Paul’s word is not that we should not at times have that feeling, but that we would guard against letting that feeling control us.
    • That is why he has the second part of the command: in humility consider others better than yourselves.
    • This second portion of the command tells us to evaluate ourselves when we feel that pride to see if we can rest and rejoice in that accomplishment in light of all the others who still have needs.
    • In other words, we practice humility when we evaluate the needs of others as better than our need to rest and rejoice in our accomplishments.
    • Let me say that phrase again and ask you to think of the needs of others right here in our community.
    • If we really believe that people who do not receive Christ as Savior will die and go to Hell, how can we rest when people around us are lost, dying and going to Hell?
  • This leads to Paul’s 2nd command in verse 2:4: We practice humility in the way that we view others (2:4).
    • Again Paul uses a compound command here, looking at both our interests and the interests of others.
    • Notice that Paul does not forbid us from taking care of our own interests and needs.
    • Instead he adds to our concern the needs of others as well.
    • This is the kind of instructions that we hear anytime we fly.
      • Before you take off the stewardesses do the demonstrations for the oxygen masks and tell you to make sure you get the oxygen on yourself before you help your children.
      • Paul’s counsel here is similar in that we need to make sure we have a right relationship with God and others before we start trying to help others.
        • We cannot witness about someone that we do not have a personal relationship with.
        • If we have a broken relationship with others, we cannot move forward until we have fixed those relationships.
    • In recent days on of our candidates for president has raised many eyebrows about his past behavior and his dismissive statements about that behavior.
      • While many reacted to this latest political twist with consternation towards one candidate or the other, listen to what pastor James Macdonald says to all of us about this situation:
      • “What if instead of calling for [the Republican candidate] or [the Democrat candidate] to repent, we repented?”
      • Macdonald understands Paul’s point here, namely that we all have a vested interest in the Savior: WE ALL NEED A SAVIOR!
    • So we practice humility when we view others in the light of the gospel.
      • No matter what sin others may be in, their situation is not worse than ours was before Christ.
      • We are all sinners in need of a Savior, and we serve others humbly when we are open and honest about our need for a Savior instead of self-righteously seeking to shift blame for ourselves.
      • Consider just a moment if someone you counted as an enemy came up to you and said, “I know I hurt you with my behavior. I have already asked Jesus to forgive me, but now I need to ask for your forgiveness.”
      • Imagine when we ministered to others instead of doing so from a sense of superiority, we echoed the preacher of the 16th century John Bradford who said, “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford”.
        • Take just a moment and think of sin in others that most frustrates you or offends you.
        • Now with that sin in mind say that phrase in your head, but insert your name – “There but for the grace of God, goes _________.”
        • We are all fellow sinners in need of a Savior.
  • For that reason, Paul’s next words are the 1st observation.
  • These words should seem so sweet to us: We practice humility by having an example to follow (2:5-8).
    • It is not humble to blaze your own trail or to cut your own swath.
    • It is not humble to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
    • It is humble to have an example to follow and follow it.
    • I do not know how many of you like to follow the directions that come with an item or follow the directions on the GPS in your car, but we are talking about something far more important that those examples.
    • Paul talks here about us adopting the attitude (NIV84) or mind (# of other translations) of Christ.
      • In other words Christ is our example to follow.
      • Notice the details Paul mentions about Christ’s mind.
        • He did not grasp at the greatness of God (2:6).
        • He emptied himself of the kingliness of God and adopted the servant nature of man (2:7)
        • He became humbly obedient to God’s plan to the point of death (2:8).
    • For Jesus, he had to let go of his divine nature in order to be the suffering servant that God planned for the Messiah to be in Isaiah 53.
    • For us to practice humility, we need to follow the example of Christ, not grasp at being divine, but empty ourselves of all but one expectation: How can I please God today?
    • If you are an unbeliever here today, you may rebel against the idea of merely adding pleasing God through obedience to you desires; much less having this as your singular passion.
      • After all as an unbeliever you have a myriad of tangible goals and desires that you can reach. Why adopt such an intangible goal?
    • Consider then for a moment the words of Roy Baumeister, a psychologist and writer about self-esteem offers this observations about our nature:
      • “For most of us… the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them.”
      • Presumably the more tangible goals we esteem ourselves as able to accomplish the more potential there is for failure.
      • Too many goals and expectations is a real problem when we cannot live up to those goals and expectations.
      • I do not know if Baumeister is a Christian but his thinking mirrors Paul’s thinking.
      • If we adopt the mind or attitude of Christ we will not clutter our thinking with a myriad of desires but seek humbly to please God like Jesus did each and every day.
      • The most beautiful part of that goal is that we can be sure as we follow Jesus that our limited ability to please God is viewed through the lens of our dependence upon Christ.
  • Which leads us to Paul’s 2nd Observation: We practice humility by choosing who we will serve (2:9-11).
    • Notice that Paul concludes his look at Christ’s example by pointing out that it was God who exalted Christ.
      • God raised him from the dead.
      • The power of God ascended Jesus to his right hand.
      • From glory Jesus oversees all Creation while he directly rules His church until the 2nd Coming.
      • By God’s decree at the perfect time, Jesus will come again to judge the world and bring all Creation under His direct rule.
    • Notice as well how Paul says everyone will serve Christ by using the odd construction in verse 10.
      • Every knee will bow in heaven, earth, and under the earth.
      • All will bow – the saints in glory, the saved and unsaved on earth now, and those consigned to Hell.
      • In other words, Christ is on the throne, even if we do not like it.
    • Finally notice who will be glorified when every tongue confesses Christ as Lord.
      • God the Father is glorified because of his wonderful plan of salvation.
      • We can agree with God as a friend and exalting Jesus in our lives or we can be forced to bow and confess Jesus as Lord.
    • This is why friends it is so important that you practice humility now and choose to serve God through Jesus Christ.
      • Why you serve Jesus Christ as your Lord, and not place yourself on the throne of your life, you glorify God by agreeing with God that Jesus deserves to be exalted and not yourself.
      • You place Jesus in charge of every decision and make his Word a priority as the instructions for your life.

 

Conclusion:

  • So today, allow me to meddle in your life for just a moment.
  • Be very honest as you answer the question that I am asking you.
  • Who is in charge in your life?
    • Does your pride control you?
    • Does your need for superiority control you?
    • Does your reticence to obeying God control you?
    • Does your desire for control of your life control you?
  • If you would practice humility in your life, let me suggest that none of these can be in charge of your life.
  • If you would be ready for eternity and an abundant life here and now, there is but one who can sit on the throne of your life.
  • Your only Lord can be Christ, the Savior of your soul.
  • Will you turn from selfishly controlling your life and humbly trust Jesus to guide you into a better life and eternity?
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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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