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When the World Gets In the Way-Part 2

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Worldly Ambition & Godly Virtue

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SKU: 16-26 Category: Date: 9/4/2016 Scripture: Luke 14:7-11 Tags: , , , , , ,
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Obtaining the grace of Christ and receiving the honor of service and reward in his kingdom all hinge on a humble awareness that we do not in any way deserve his favor, acceptance, or honor.

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16-26 When The World Gets In The Way-Part 2

 

When The World Gets In The Way – Part 2

Worldly Ambition & Godly Virtue

Pastor Mike Fabarez

 

Luke 14:7-11

 

Well, we have made it through another Olympic season, have we not? With all the pomp of human achievements, closing ceremony are gone now. We got to see the amazing athleticism of people like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, these people putting on these displays of this supreme achievements of athleticism, it’s quite amazing. Consider that Usain Bolt guy, I mean, he’s pretty fast, isn’t he? They say that at his top speed he can run at 29 miles per hour. Now that doesn’t sound very fast, you get your wife to drive along side of you when you’re running down your street and just see what your number is. Amazingly fast. And yet did you know a grumpy little temperamental house cat, given the right motivation, can run that fast. Did you know God created this really ugly animal called the Wart Hog that, will never get a Nike promotional deal, can run 30 miles an hour? Talk about the dog races last week, you know those dogs those grey hounds? They can run at 45 miles per hour. The rabbits that are eating up your lawn, given the right motivation, can go as high as 50 miles per hour, and of course the cheetah as you know, 75 miles per hour. (01:51)

 

Yeah but did you see the Canadian high jumper? Now that was impressive, 7 feet 10 inches. He got the gold medal, I mean 7 feet 10 inches that’s really really high. It’s amazing to think about someone jumping that high and yet if you sneak onto YouTube this morning you can see a squatty little Pitbull he leaps up this wall, a 14 foot, wall to grab a little chew toy at the top of this thing. Unbelievable, and you know some antelope can leap they say 25 feet in the air, antelope. Yeah, straight up, big deal. What about the long jumper? Henderson, he won the gold for us here in America. 27 and a half feet he jumped over, think about that. That’s a long span, go in your hallway, map that out if you have a long hallway and see if you can jump that. That is a long leap, really long. And yet cougars, puma, 30 feet no problem. You’ve got kangaroos, those weird animals that God created, 45 feet they can clear and believe it or not there’s a leopard, he’s just two feet tall, four feet long, I mean that’s the dimensions of your average leopard and they can clear, if you had two cliffs 50 feet apart, they can clear a span of 50 feet. 50 feet, I mean you have that leopard leaping next to Hendersen that would be embarrassing. Right? Amazing. (03:16)

 

But you know no one at least can swim faster than Michael Phelps, right? Especially with all those suction cups all over his torso. I mean that guy is fast, 4 and a half miles an hour he can track through that water. I mean it’s hard to swim fast, that’s amazing and of course God created these lumbering super-duper fat whales, no problem, they can swim faster than that. Well, yeah Mike, but they have that big tail, big propulsion, great they have the proportion of a dolphin. You can be a small little dolphin, dolphins can swim at 20 miles per hour, swordfish at 40 miles an hour and there’s a sailfish that God created that could actually technically get a ticket on the I5, it can go 68 miles per hour through the water. Lapping Phelps, you know multiple times, he can’t even get across the pool until he’s been back and forth 10 times. Unbelievable. 15 times faster than our fastest human swimmer. (04:09)

 

It’s almost as though God created a world for us to live in that’s constantly reminding us that though you may be, you know, the most valued creature in God’s creation you certainly shouldn’t get all that full of yourself. Because there’s always something on this planet that he’s made that’s faster, bigger, stronger, I mean all of that. It’s a constant reminder from God, if you look around that we should say in creation, you know, with the Psalmist in Psalm 8. What is man that you should be mindful of us? I mean really, who are we, that in light of everything you would favor us? And of course, he does and that’s the amazing thing. But it is a cry of humility there in Psalm 8 from us as humans when we’re playing the national anthem and thinking about how great we are in terms of our human achievements we recognize that we have a hard time getting that message. And yet the Bible from beginning to end, much like nature if we ponder it long enough, is trying to get us to get ourselves in perspective. (05:06)

 

Because if you’re not in perspective the Bible calls it pride. And the problem with pride is from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, it is a catastrophic character flaw. Catastrophic and I don’t overuse that word and that’s not hyperbole, that is catastrophic. It has eternal ramifications. Last week we were in the first 6 verses of Luke chapter 14 where Jesus is being spied upon by the Pharisees after church one day if you will and he’s at this meal where the swollen man comes and they’re seeing whether or not he’s going to heal on the Sabbath. They’re spying on him, watching him closely, intently, I said that Greek word has that strong sense of watching you. Well Jesus turns the tables here in Luke chapter 14 verse 7 through 11 and he says, “You know what? I’ve been watching you and you know I need to address something that you guys – the Pharisees – typify as a major human problem.” And it’s the problem of getting yourself out of perspective and thinking more of yourself than you ought. And he illustrates it in a very germane illustration about sitting at a banquet. So, let’s take a look at this passage as we see Jesus trying to warn us as he does all over the gospels at one of the things that we seem to rebound to so easily and that is that we have an inflated view of ourselves and Jesus wants to drive the point home. Don’t be like the rest of the world, you need to learn from Christ you need to learn to be humble person and he illustrates it this way. (06:30)

 

Verse number 7, Luke 14:7. Now he, Christ of course, told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed – notice now he’s watching them – how they chose the places of honor, saying to them. Verse 8, “When you’re invited by someone to a wedding feast.” Now of course they were at dinner at a house of a prominent ruling Pharisee, but he’s saying now just think about a super important meal like a wedding reception. Don’t sit in the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him and he who invited you both will come and say to you, give your place to this person. And man, how humiliating that would be and then you’ll begin with shame to take the lowest place. Rather, verse 10, but when you are invited go and sit in the lowest place so that when your host comes he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher.” Oh man, that would be honoring, wouldn’t it? And then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. Now of course we’re going to read verse 11 here in a second but let’s just stop right there and think about what we just heard. (07:34)

 

Christ at a dinner watching them kind of assume their importance and get in the pecking order around the table. He says, “Listen, let me tell you a story, when you go to your next wedding reception, men take the lowest place because you could take a high place and then someone more distinguished might come and take it, so don’t do that. It’ll be better for you to be called up than to be pushed down.” Now my question would be and I’m thinking objectively about Jesus and the Pharisees, does he really care at all whether or not the Pharisees are slapping each other on the back and bestowing honor on one another at the next luncheon they go to. The answer, no of course not. This is as it says in verse 7 a parable, this is a story and the story and the parable should be the cue to us that he’s trying to talk about something far more important then the Emily Post of the New Testament. He’s not trying to give you some kind of etiquette as to how to go about your dinners although I suppose if you get the internal truth of verse 11 it might affect the way you sit at the next banquet you go to. But that’s not the point and I just want to make that clear because if you understand Christ’s view of the Pharisees he’s not trying to save them humiliation at their dinners. He’s trying to say this story might be a good way for you to understand the spiritual principal that has eternal consequences and that is this, verse 11 that should be no surprise to us, it’s all over the New Testament and it’s all over the Old Testament. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, verse 11 says. And whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (09:01)

 

Okay, there’s the principal. Now you could say that applies to the next wedding reception or dinner party or whatever it might be in terms of assuming that you should be sitting in the place of honor and being called. Okay, but that is not his concern. So, let’s use the illustration the way it’s intended to be used by trying to illustrate the spiritual truth that’s in the Bible about exalting yourself or humbling yourself that’s what matters to God. What really matters is not the person who invites you to the next party that you go to. What really matters is the God that’s going to call you into his presence one day and you’ve got to stand before him and what matters then is whether or not you humbled yourself or whether you exalted yourself. So, let’s deal with the principal that’s being illustrated by looking a fresh at verses 7 through 9 and understanding what he’s asking them to do in this parable that certainly applies to what we need to do as it relates to God. (09:49)

 

Now he told them a parable to those who were invited. He noticed how they chose the places of honor, now notice that. Here’s a place near the head of the table, that’s how it was in the ancient days they had the Rabbis tell us, usually a U-shaped big dining room, we usually have rectangle ones, but they have these U-shaped ones and at the apex of that, that’s where the host sat and then all of his important guests started from there and the pecking order and the ranking went down from there. And I assume like at your dining room table, you know, and I have people over at my house, I sit at the head of the table, that’s where I always sit and it’s my house and that’s how it goes. Now we don’t care about the rankings there and that’s not a normal thing in our culture I suppose, maybe it is in your house, but you know we don’t have first place, second place, third place but the point is they come into a banquet hall and they have the pecking order by where you sit and they said I assume that I belong here. And he says the danger in that is you may presume to be sitting in a place that should bestow upon you a certain honor that you really haven’t earned because someone else is going to come in and show you don’t belong there and you get put down the pecking order. (10:47)

 

So, the problem here is an assumption, an assumption of an acceptance by the host and an honor from the host that I’m assuming. And he’s saying don’t do that. Better for you to not do that because if you assume a kind of honor to yourself that is not objectively given to you by the host well then you might be embarrassed because here comes someone to show you, you don’t rank here, you rank here and when that happens you’ll be ashamed because you’ll have to go to the lowest place. And again, he’s not concerned about your dinner parties he’s concerned about you before God assuming that you should be accepted and be honored in a way that is not reality. So, I’m going to get around to humbling myself but right now I’m just going to understand the tendency that I have to assume that I should be accepted and honored by God in a way that’s not at all in keeping with reality. Number 1 on your outline, to try and start to correct that I want to put it this way, we need to rethink what we deserve. Rethink what you deserve. (11:41)

 

  1. Rethink What You Deserve

 

And again, the context in terms of honor and acceptance. The host it’s an illustration, it’s a parable from God, and me a guest in his house, a person, I need to think where I am in the acceptance and honor that I should have. I want to be careful not to be presumptuous about that and I need to have an accurate view of myself. So, I got to be careful, I got to rethink where I am in the pecking order of God. In God’s economy, what kind of acceptance should I have by a holy God and what kind of honor should I receive from a holy God? And if you’ve been through Sunday School, right, you’ve got the Sunday School answer. But I need to think that through in kind of an objective way. So that at least I can leave here today after studying this passage and say, “You know what? Yeah, I got a little attitude adjustment in terms of how I view what I really deserve.” Because if you ask your neighbors what they deserve from God, I guarantee you this, they all think they deserve a ticket to heaven. Am I right? All of them. I mean the stats are they bear this out, certainly my evangelism bears this out. I talk to people about you’re going to die what do you think is going to happen, where are you going to go? They all think they’re going to heaven. Your friends think that too. 99% of the people on surveys think that they die and they go to heaven. You can go to the most rank, you know, most irritating, most godless person in your office when he dies, go to his funeral and watch what happens because people get up on the platform and talk about old Frank and where he’s going to be. And they’re all going to assume he’s, no one says, “Oh, Frank is burning in hell, must be hot down there.” No one says that. They all say what? Frank, you know he’s a bit of a character but you know I’m sure he’s cracking jokes with Jesus and playing golf and blah blah blah.” And all this nonsense goes on and pours forth from the stage at these funerals. No one thinks they deserve God’s rejection. No one thinks they deserve God’s retribution. They all think they deserve God’s acceptance and they all presume upon the honor they, at least they’re going to get a celestial country club membership at the very least, because Frank liked to play golf. And you hear this. (13:32)

 

You got to rethink what you deserve. Now when you’re all little kids if you went to church, I hope and if not I hope you’ve caught up since and you will learn the verse that we all learn as little kids and that is Romans 3:23. And it says that all have sinned and they all fall short – there’s a measure example – of the glory of God. So, sin is the problem. If you ask people if they’re sinners, they say, ‘No, not really’. The Bible says all have sinned so all my friends, including myself, were sinners. And when it comes to the illustration at least the language of that passage it’s I don’t measure up because there is a measure that matters and that is the glory of God. So, let’s think this through now. There is a standard that is acceptable that is the glory of God, what’s appropriate, what God expects from human beings. We fall short because we’re all sinners. Now if you press your neighbor long enough he will say, “Well, I guess I am a sinner. I’m not perfect, I mean come on, no one is perfect.” Okay, great you’re not perfect but when you think about measuring up to what God should accept and what God should reward and honor and commend, well you think, I mean I’m not far, I’m good enough, I’m close enough. See what we have, to use a measuring example, is human beings walking around like yardsticks. Remember the old wooden yardstick you use to pass out at various places at the hardware store, whatever. And I remember having these kits and they’re supposed to be 36 inches, right? That’s a yard, 3 feet. We are walking around as all individual yardsticks of varying lengths, are we not? And if you think about what people imagine is acceptable human behavior they all think for the most part, 99% of them do, that I measure up. (15:14)

 

Now if you really press them to kind of wipe off the dust from the numbers, they might say, “Well, you know I’m not 36 inches of course because who is, we’re all imperfect, but you know, I don’t know, I’m in the thirties, 32, 31.” So, here we are, varying lengths, not really worrying about the numbers but all thinking we’re pretty close to a 36-inch human life and we all should measure up and God’s going to accept me. And I’m rough and I’m near that and I’m kind of that. We all have a perception of our own acceptability before God and the problem is we presume that when we die, we stand before God and we think, well of course I should be accepted here. The problem is the Bible says you don’t measure up. If you think laterally and here’s the folly of it and here’s the verse I always quote, 2 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 12, 2 Corinthians 10:12, when people measure themselves by one another – another measuring analogy – and compare themselves with one another they are without understanding. That’s not the biblical understanding of how we ought to consider ourselves worthy or not before God. We don’t measure ourselves by each other. And in our passage that I said you learned as a kid, all have sinned and they fall short they don’t measure up to the – here’s the standard – the glory of God. And when it comes to the fact that I have to think about what is acceptable human behavior to God, I’m going to look at my life and one day I’m going to die and I’m going to meet the standard. As a matter of fact, the standard is going to sitting on a throne called the Bema Seat, the Bema Seat is the throne that God uses to evaluate our life. He will be sitting on it, he lived the perfect human life and he is the measure of humanity that is acceptable to God. He lived the human life as perfect righteousness and that is the standard. (16:56)

 

And what we’re going to find out as we all went around here thinking about what acceptable human life is, 36 inches, and you know what I may have been 32 but whatever I can get a little wood filler in there, I’ll kind of prop things up, kind of push, I’ll make it. I’ll be okay. We’re going to then stand before him and we’re going to find out the measure is not the yardstick it’s just to use a human example it is the largest human structure on the surface of the earth which is the Dubai Tower. It’s got some Arabic name I can’t recall. But the tower in Dubai, right? It’s not the Sears Tower, Willis Tower anymore. Do you know how tall that Dubai Tower is in downtown Dubai? Thirty-two thousand six hundred sixty-four inches, that’s more than a yardstick isn’t it not? All the yardsticks of varying lengths trying to make sure they’re not in the twenties hoping they’re going to measure up to what they believe and assume is acceptability. They’re going to then meet the perfect human standard, they’re going to stand before him and no one is going to stand there and high-five him. According to Philippians 2 we’re all going to bow down, foreheads to the ground and confess that he is Lord. And everyone’s going to realize, wow, I can’t even see the top of the standard that is acceptable to a holy God, because it isn’t 36 inches it’s 32,664 inches, it’s the perfect human life and at that point I can guarantee you, what gets really crystal clear the moment people die. Fred won’t be there with his golf clubs over his shoulder, he’s going to say, “I don’t deserve the acceptance or any honor coming from God because I do not measure up.” (18:27)

 

This verse will never be more real the moment you die, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That should allow me to understand in terms of our illustration the honor and acceptance you should receive from the maker, the host, is none. I should be rejected, I should be told to get lost, I should be cast – to put it Jesus’ terms – to outer darkness, there should be no acceptance before a holy God. That’s how it should go, that’s what I deserve. (18:59)

 

Now that’s hard for us because we think I can’t help it, I’m not perfect and that’s how people think. But let’s put it in moral terms because we can get a little indignant about moral deficiencies. In other words, Romans chapter 3 verse 23 is put in measuring terms and I try to illustrate that with yardsticks and the Dubai Tower as silly as that may sound. But you can get indignant and think they don’t deserve good, they don’t deserve honor, they don’t deserve acceptance by me if you can think in moral terms about people’s behavior. And I’m not trying to trick you on this, you are a better person objectively speaking than a lot of people on the planet. I’m speaking now I hope to mostly, mostly law-abiding tax-paying relatively speaking decent people here as I preach from my platform to Orange County people, forget about you know about salvation, non-salvation. I’m talking about how you live your life, law-abiding people. (19:52)

 

We can look to places in the world where there are just really cesspools of immoral, terrible, awful, unrighteous behavior. And you could look for the lowest of the low on the planet and I don’t know, I just picked one as I was thinking this through and I thought about modern day pirates. And I’m not talking about the movie pirates, Johnny Depp, I’m thinking about real pirates. There are some anywhere from 240 to 440 actual seizures of vessels merchant marines and everything else that go on by pirates. And if you follow the news you know a lot of this comes, speaking of Dubai, not far from there. And that is on the Somali coast. And if you watch the news you’ve heard the phrase Somali pirates. Smile at me if you’ve heard Somali pirates. There are real-life pirates and think about what they do. They traffic in taking hostages, holding people for ransom, if they have to, they will torture and kill people and they’re engaged in real nefarious stuff. Now as we sit here and I’m not mocking you and I’m not setting you up for anything here, I’m just saying as we sit from our relative moral high ground and look at that group and you can say, “Well, I’m going off to the office tomorrow morning and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.” I mean relatively speaking I don’t measure up to the glory of God but I mean man you got to say at least I mean those guys are in the teens and I’m in the thirties if I want to use that old illustration. And that’s, I get morally indignant about people that live by that kind of nonsense. (21:14)

 

And then all I’ve got to say is, okay, as we sit from our moral high ground and look at Somali pirates, I want you to think about those Somali pirates for a minute. Do you think they make distinctions among themselves? You’re a Somali pirate, let’s get in their shoes for a minute. And you’re a bad guy. Right, I mean it’s bad, you’re bad. You take hostage for a living, you torture people, you intimidate people, you rough people up. Now do you know any Somali pirates that you might work with that are worse than you? Oh yeah, matters of fact, Fred you know, bring Fred back into this, I know that’s not a Somalian name but let’s just pretend. Fred he’s a really, he’s a really, I don’t even, I mean, whoo, I don’t like how he operates. I mean he’ll walk in, we’ll take someone hostage, he takes the butt of his rifle and knocks their teeth out. I mean that’s just uncalled, we don’t have to do that. I mean I have hit a few hostages, I mean if they really get out of line and give me some kind of feed, I mean I might punch them in the mouth, I’ve done a few fat lips and I want to intimidate them but you don’t have to knock their teeth out. Fred, I don’t know what’s wrong with Fred, he’s a little much. And then we do like to show them we’re serious so we do a little bit of torture, I mean everyone does a little bit of torture. I mean, come on. All pirates do some torture. But I mean I’ve seen him just take a pair of pliers and just pull people’s fingernails out as they writhe in pain and scream, I mean come on, I mean I’ve taken the hammer and smashed some fingers just to make the point that I’m in charge and that they need to submit but I don’t think we have to pull their fingernails out, I mean Fred, I mean he just gives pirates a bad name, he’s just, he is a bad pirate. (22:49)

 

Now as we sit from our moral high ground, not setting you up, not trying to be silly about this but whatever we’re engaged in at the office, I’m assuming that you’re looking down your moral nose as we should I suppose humanly speaking those, I mean that’s bad. And the differences between them I mean you give him much slack to the guy who smashes an innocent person’s hand with a hammer verses pulling out the fingernails with a pair of pliers? I’m thinking I mean yeah you might be better than that pirate Fred but you’re a bad person, man. Okay, from heavens perspective looking at Orange County non-Christians does not God’s still look and say, “Listen you don’t deserve the acceptance, you don’t deserve the commendation, you don’t deserve the lauding or reward, I mean come on you don’t deserve any honor from heaven.” So, in that sense we all fall short, but we fall so short, so short that the differences between sinners, mehh. (23:48)

 

Now if you’re tracking here, theologically I hope you’re going to say, “Well, Mike that may work for non-Christians but you’ve taught us a lot about what it is to be saved and that changes things. And I know a lot of people you often point out the theology that doesn’t make a deal out of regeneration, I mean really causes problems in theology so I mean I know that when I become a Christian, you’re always quoting 2 Corinthians 5:17, we’re new creatures in Christ, old things pass away so how am I supposed to view myself against the standards of heaven as the angels look over the rails from their moral high ground at us, they got to give us some credit for being Christians” and I’m saying, you’re absolutely right, they should. We’re converted people. So, I think about self-assessment and viewing myself properly and not presuming upon the honor or the rewards of God I mean I do know that God rewards us and I do know that he cherishes me and I know that I’m redeemed and I’ve been granted not only the forensic righteousness of Christ but I also have this progressive righteousness and so there’s something laudable there and we can do things to please God so what about that? I’m not a Somali pirate and you’re not. (24:45)

 

You’ve had a conversion experience but stick with me now as we watch from our imaginative moral high ground of Orange County, you’re no longer a pirate. You’ve gotten off the ship, you’ve actually turned yourself in at the police department and you said, “I should not be a pirate, it’s wrong.” So, you join the police department, you go through the academy, you are now a Somali law enforcement agent. You can Google that one too after you get the Pitbull, you know, on the wall. The fourth most corrupt according to international standards in our world. Fourth most corrupt law enforcement in any nation in the world. And yet guess what? Technically speaking they’re on the right side of the law, are they not? They have uniforms, they have guns that they carry, they’re not carrying AK-47s they’re not taking merchant marines hostage but I mean they’re on the right side, they’ve got a badge that says serve and protect or whatever the equivalent is over there. They’re on the right side but as we look from our moral high ground you might even be a Sheriff here in Orange County Sheriff, some PD somewhere and you say well we would never pass out commendations to those guys. I mean extortion and bribery and intimidation and I mean that police department is corrupt. The fourth most corrupt in the world according to international standards. And you’d say well I’m really glad you’re no longer a Somali pirate. I’m actually, there is something I suppose commendable as I condescend and mercifully say I’m much rather you be a Somali police officer than a Somali pirate but you still got a problem. Yeah, you’re clothed in Christ, trying to merge this together to what I’m trying to say. Yeah, you’re on the right team. Yeah, you’ve been pulled out and adopted from the bad guys, yes you’re now a good guy but how, what kind of good guy are you, as the angels look over the rails of heaven and watch the church assemble together in Orange County this morning. Oh, needs some help. I know that because I’ve read the Bible. And in the Bible, even though the first chapter of 1 Corinthians will laud the fact that they’re now on the right team. They’re now the good guys because they are now clothed in Christ’s righteous. They now have been elect and they’re before God, righteous and they actually have the capacity to please God. I mean that’s the first chapter and then before we get out of the first chapter all we have is problem after problem after problem after problem. It would be like you being sent as a liaison from law enforcement and in Orange County to go to Somalia and say, “Well we have a lot going on in this precinct if that’s what they called them, we better straighten, we got a lot of extortion, a lot of bribery, a lot of kick backs, a lot of intimidation going on. A lot of rules being broken and I mean we’ve got to clean this police department up.” (27:14)

 

As God looks over the rails of heaven at us and you want to talk about passing out commendation and rewards, he still has to hold his nose, does he not, to do any kind of commendation for us. In that regard, if you followed in that silly illustration this morning, weather you are still a non-Christian, thinking about how you should view yourself before a holy God, or a Christian, how you should view yourself before a holy God. We all have nothing to boast about. Yeah, we may have been transferred into the kingdom of Light. And yes, I got to say I’d much rather have a group of Somali police officers than Somali pirates. I’m going to feel somewhat safer and yet I know there’s a lot of problems, just read Revelation chapter 2 and 3. Jesus comes on the scene, he looks at his church, he goes look at the church from Ephesus to Laodicea we got a lot of problems in the church. There’s a lot of spot and wrinkles it says in Ephesians. And while he’s constantly telling us to iron out the wrinkles and clear up those spots, we are going to move toward increasing righteousness and the goal of the church and preaching and all of us ought to be to try and purify ourselves as he is pure. If you really look from an objective perspective from the tower of Dubai, 32,664 inches above the planet and look down at the church that has been exalted to a place of being his representatives on the planet you still got to say I don’t know that we should really look in the mirror and say, “Yeah!” God should praise me and sit me at the front of the table. (28:37)

 

Now that’s a proper, I believe, as good as I can do with illustrations, perspective on the fact that we do not deserve God’s honor, we don’t deserve even God’s acceptance. We should know that because all of grace to be saved and even as Christians being empowered by God it still leaves an imperfect product, the church imperfect and you are too. So, before God we don’t deserve what we are naturally inclined to presume that we deserve. And you think you’re going to meet God even as a Christian and high five him as all the, you know, contemporary Christian songs seem to tell us, we’re just going to go dance around and high-five Christ when you see him? Not true, you fall on his face like John did on island of Patmos when he saw Christ in the glorified state and he fell down like a dead person afraid because the holiness of Jesus. Pick a man like Job who was holy in his day, God shows up at the end of the book and what does he say? I retract in dust and ashes. He’s a holy God, more holy than all of his friends that were saying all kinds of theological things and he still retracts. You’ve got Isaiah preaching at his generation that is, I mean you want to talk about yardsticks, it’s so far below Isaiah’s holy standard and then chapter 6 he meets God in his vision and then a measuring analogy, high and exalted seated on the throne. And what does he do? High-five him and say finally someone righteous to work with me. Right? No, he’s down, woe is me, right? Even have the seraphim by the way, you want to talk about how crazy infinite holy God, covering their faces as they fly around the throne. He says, “I’m ruined, I’m a man of unclean lips.” Guarantee you man he’s talking to the Somali pirates of the ancient world, he is a Somali police chief in his generation, and he sees the holy one, and he’s still like, ugh, I’m ruined. (30:29)

 

Rethink what you deserve, you cannot compare yourself with others. It’s foolish the Bible says. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and even as a Christian we shouldn’t look in the mirror with any presumption as to the kind of party Christ should throw for us, no matter how much better you are than when you were as a non-Christian, or how much better we might be or you might be than any other Christian. We don’t deserve his accolades and we certainly don’t deserve his acceptance. (30:56)

 

So, we need to be humble, verse 10 says you should be humble. As a matter of fact if you think about going into the presence of God, in the illustration, the presence of your host, you better take the lowest place, you better humbly say, “I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve to have your honor.” You should go in humbly so that when your host comes which would be unthinkable if you really believe you deserve the lowest place and he calls you up. You’ll be amazed, you’ll be honored, everyone will go I can’t believe it and you will to and you’ll be picked up and exalted. So, you need to be a humble person. You need to see at least in this analogy that it would be better for you to be humble than it would be to be proud, obviously. So, I need to see the value of that. Let’s just make that a simple statement. What is the value of this? Well, in the illustration it’s that you would be honored and you wouldn’t be embarrassed. That you could move from a low place to a higher place which of course isn’t going to happen based on your merits when you meet God. But there is value in it. As a matter of fact, I’ll add this word, there’s eternal value in it. Number 2 if you’re taking notes, we need to see the eternal value of humility. (32:00)

 

  1. See the Eternal Value of Humility

 

And let me start with something logical and I may be wasting time on this but I’ll throw it out there because it makes some sense to me. How about that? Humility, I’ll give you three things. The first thing, why is humility to be valued? This may be more theoretical but follow me. Humility is to be eternally valued by God and it will be and it should be valued by us. Because humility is a perspective that you carry that is in keeping with the truth. It’s true. To think less of yourself is the right thing because it’s in line with reality. It’s in keeping with reality. It’s true. If you go around thinking that you’re better than you are, which is our tendency and you deserve more honor and you deserve acceptance and you deserve all these things that you don’t really deserve, you’re walking around with deceptive thoughts in your mind, in your head, they are full of lies. God is a god of truth, Satan is a liar. You need to get your mind thinking more like God which is to value humility, because humility is true. It is true that you don’t measure up, it is true that you don’t deserve his acceptance, so to think that way is for you to think rightly. For you to go around thinking that you can fly would be dumb. And as a matter of fact, it could be harmful. Go to La Jolla Cliffs, think I can fly, you might fall and die and the Bible says that pride sets you up for destruction. And pride comes before the fall. And here’s the problem, you may think that you are someone that you’re not and that’s a problem that’s in your mind that’s damaging but let’s just start with this, because it’s not even true. That’s why God always seems to put not always but often lying and arrogance side by side. I think of one of the classic passages, Proverbs 6:16, six things the Lord hates, 7 that are an abomination to him and he starts with two things. Right, haughty eyes, someone who is prideful, and then lying lips. See those go together, someone who thinks falsely about themselves and someone who speaks falsely about all kinds of things. God sees pride as a lie, you don’t deserve to think that way because it’s not true. (34:10)

 

I know I quote this all the time but when Paul is speaking to the university professors at Athens, the Areopagus, Mars Hill, Acts 17. He starts by trying to get everything in perspective. He says, “Listen the God who made the world and everything in it. Don’t think that he lives in temple made by hands or that he’s served by human hands. Seeing that you can’t serve him and he doesn’t need anything.” Now, think about that. He doesn’t need anything. Matters of fact it is he himself who gives to all men everything. Life and breath and everything else. So, God gives to dependent creatures all that they need. And God doesn’t need anything. Follow this now, we have a desire to think like God because God made us in his image. We can’t run faster, we’re not the strongest, we’re not the best creature on the planet in terms of all those physical things, but we’re best in terms of our immaterial qualities. We are made in God’s image. What does that mean? Not our bodies, God is certainly not weaker than other creatures, he’s the strongest, we’re not the strongest. He’s the fastest, we’re not the fastest. All those things aren’t true about us physically but the immaterial part of us is intellect, emotion and will that reflects divine intellect emotion and will. We have capacities that your dog and your hyena and your Pitbull don’t have. Those are things that make us want to kind of perceive ourselves to be something we’re not, we’re limited and dependent creatures, he’s independent. He gives everything to these dependent creatures and he needs nothing given to him. You can’t give him anything. In him, as he goes on to say, we live and move and have our being. God doesn’t need that, he’s completely autonomous, he’s completely independent, he’s completely transcendent, he’s completely self-sufficient, he’s completely at liberty. You are not. You’re confined. (35:50)

 

Now we have illusions of liberty, we have illusions of autonomy, we have illusions of being independent but we’re just the opposite of that. And I kind of foolishly always talk about these things in terms of, you know, decide to live to be 200. You can’t. Can God? Well he can’t decide anything but that, of course. Decide to be born in the 1600, we’ll I can’t do that, but I’m already born. Well, who decided that, you didn’t. You don’t even have the liberty to decide to be born to super rich parents. Well you can’t do that either. Is God able? If he takes on human form of course, he designed when he would be born in a manger, he decided who would be his parent. God has complete liberty, we don’t. Decide to lift your car up over your head, we can’t do those things. Have lunch on the moon, can’t do that. Fly, you can’t fly. All the things you may want to do because you think like God at least in capacities, this capacity that you have, you can’t live any of that out. You’re finite, you’re dependent. Put in terms of Jesus, you can’t even add a single hour to your life span. Remember when we studied that in Luke? If you can’t do that small thing what do you, what are you thinking, you are so dependent on God, Jesus says. (36:58)

 

Now when I start thinking small like that, when I start thinking dependent, when I start thinking I can’t control things, when I start thinking like I’m really even not able to stay alive for another minute, when you start thinking like that, now you’re starting to be humble and that’s in keeping with reality. Matter of fact when James says, when you talk about your business plans say I’m going to do this, do this, do this, you’re thinking like a lunatic. You’re thinking that you have control over that, you don’t. you should say, if the Lord wills. You should see your dependence on the infinite independent one because you are finite and dependent. Now again, I said I might waste your time with that, but can you see one of the first reasons we should value humility? And the reason it has eternal value because it gets our mind thinking in terms of reality, it’s in keeping with how things really are? And everyone else lives in an illusion. Does Usain Bolt drop to his knees and thank God for just the ability to oxygenate his blood by breathing when he runs? No, probably not, I don’t know, I mean, I’m not a sports guy but I assuming not. What’s the difference between non-Christians and Christians? We recognize that, at least we’re supposed to. And we realize who God is in providing us all things, he is the one who gives us life and breath and everything else, so that’s good. (38:14)

 

Simpler, there are a couple more eternal values to humility and that is if you don’t want to go to hell, you need to be humble. What? Think this through, all throughout the Bible the difference between the people that get their sins forgiven and don’t have to pay for them themselves, is humility. What kind of humility? The kind of humility that can look in the mirror and say you don’t deserve it. Remember the Luke 18 passage, we’ll get to that Lord willing, where the Pharisee and the Tax Collector go to the temple to pray the difference between being justified, which means they don’t have this sin pinned to their account anymore is what? The Pharisee comparing yardsticks and saying, “I glad I’m not as short as that guy.” And the short guy going, “I’m embarrassed to even look up to heaven.” Beats his chest and says, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” And he says guess which one goes home justified? The one who recognized his sin. Jesus in John 9, he says, “I came here to let people see. The problem is you Pharisees you think you see and because you think you see you’re going to remain blind. But the one who knows he’s blind, well if you thought you were blind well then you can see.” I mean, that’s a wordy way on the heels of a healing of a blind man to make the point that if you just recognize that you’re a sinner and own it, well that’s the starting point to get you through the portal of salvation. In other words, I cannot be saved without humility. The problem between you and God, it’s humility. I mean ultimately you can boil it down to that, prime and core and crucial element. Your non-Christian neighbor will not become a Christian, it will get down to the fact that he’s not willing to humble himself to say I’m a sinner who is not worthy of his acceptance. And until he does that and is granted that by God, not going to happen. (39:53)

 

Salvation, that’s why Jesus said and it’s almost a condemnation. A physician comes for sick people. I thought we’re all sinful, I thought we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God, well we do. The Pharisees thought they were healthy and he says fine then I’m going to move on to the sick and that’s why I’m hanging out with people that actually have the ability to see their sin and are seeing their sin and then they’re getting saved, they’re getting forgiven. Eternal value of humility, I guess letter A would be finally you’re thinking truthfully about reality. Secondly, it’s the doorway, it’s the portal, to salvation and forgiveness. And thirdly now that you are a Christian, if you’re a Christian, really, it’s the only means to being honored. It’s the only means to be honored and what I mean by that is this. Humility is the thing that sets you into service for God. And that service earns for you, the Bible says, by God’s grace, reward in heaven. The people that are honored by God are the people that serve God and the people that serve God are the people that are humble. Standing between your humility and your honor of sitting there is a life of service. And depending on that service you’re going to be endued with honor one day, rewards. God is going to commend you and move you up the table, it’s a gracious act based on your humility. (41:12)

 

And that’s why in the Bible, prideful people, even to the extent that you are prideful even as a Christian you’re trashing your eternal rewards. What does that mean? The extent to which you’re not humble enough to say as Mary said when the angel came to her, be it unto your servant just as you said. Whatever you want. And in her Magnificant which is a Latin word that starts her prayer of praise. She says look at how God has lifted up the estate of the humble. Here I am just a teen-aged pheasant girl in Northern Israel and now embryonically I’m carrying the Messiah, and I will raise him. Do you think she’s got a seat at the table that’s honor? Well, of course it is, why? Because God graciously enlisted her into service because of her humility and that’s set in stark contrast in chapter 1 of Luke to Elizabeth and Zaccariah, who when the angel came to him and said I’m going to have you be the father of John the Baptist. He’s like, “Ahh, I don’t believe it.” I mean the whole point was you’ve got to humble yourself to believe that God is a God that takes sinners like the Apostle Paul, who says I was the worst and the foremost of sinners but God saw fit to put me into service and now what kind of respect and honor and commendation will Paul get in heaven? (42:22)

 

How about the 12 apostles, rich ruler comes to Jesus, Matthew 19, doesn’t want to follow, doesn’t want to give it up, too prideful hanging onto his stuff, thinks he deserves his bank account, walks away. Peter goes, we left our nets and followed you. Jesus says, “Yeah and you guys, fisherman, zealot, tax collector you’re going to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And you know how he ends that last verse in Matthew 19? You know what? The last are first, the first are last, why because you where humble and you said God (as Mary said) be unto me. Let your servant do whatever you want. The value of humility is a kind of qualification for service and those aren’t just historic examples there’s a principle in Isaiah 66 verses 1 and 2 that applies to every single person in the room. And that is if you want to think about the glory of God, think about it. Here’s how he says it, heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. I mean the earth; the whole planet is just a doormat for me. And yet to this one I’ll look. Do you know the passage? Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool; where is the house that you would build for me, there is no house you can build for me. Heaven and the highest heaven can’t contain me and yet to this one I will look, I’m ready to work with this person. First thing on the list, humble, contrite of heart, trembles at my word. (43:40)

 

When God says to do something, how do you respond to it based on your heart. Are you humble enough to know where you are in this whole pecking order of the universe? Where you say, “If God said it, I’ll do it.” Who should I send as Isaiah is standing in the shadow if this high and exalted God, he goes, “Here I am, send me.” He knows he’s a sinner, sinful lips, he recognizes that but in his humility, he steps up because he trembles at the word of God. And God uses him, enlists him into service and now there’s going to be a long line for you to shake hands with Isaiah one day. He is going to be highly exalted at the banquet in eternity. See the eternal value of humility. (44:16)

 

Humility is in keeping with the truth, it keeps you in touch with reality, it’s the portal of salvation, it’s qualification for service and reward. Verse 11, what do we do then, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. In other words, if you walk in assuming and presuming upon the acceptance and honor that God should bestow upon you I can guarantee you, you’ll be sorely disappointed on judgment day. You’ll be cast into outer darkness, if you’re willing to humble yourself as Jesus said, you’re not only be saved but to the extent that you do that in your Christian life you’ll be enlisted to serve God at your work, in your family, in your neighborhood and where ever else you go. You will be an ambassador of Christ and you’ll be rewarded accordingly, richly by God, you’ll be honored. What do you got to do? Well, you’ve got to humble yourself. Matter of fact that would be a good little set of words to bracket. And he who – here’s the phrase – humbles himself will be exalted. You leave church, going home, what did the pastor talk about? He talked about humility, if you get nothing else from this sermon, here’s what you’re going to get. You’ve got to humble yourself. Let’s put it down that way, number 3, humble yourself. (45:19)

 

  1. Humble Yourself

 

I mean I don’t want to leave the sermon like this without knowing exactly what God would want from me, and clearly in this passage what I need to do, if I want the benefit of this text, two words, humble myself. I’ve got to humble myself. How do I do that? First let me start with this. I want to motivate you because some of us need to see this as a top line priority in our lives. And you may see this as another thing I learned in church that I probably should get to someday. Let me give you a few things that might show how much we need this. I’m talking to Christians now, you’re a Christian, you’ve humbled yourself to get into the body of Christ, you’re wearing the team uniform, you’re on the team, you’re a good guy now, you’re a Christian. Now, live the Christian life as a humble person. Humble yourself. Humble yourself to get in and you’ve got to humble yourself as you serve him. How badly do I need this, is this really a problem in my life? Well, here’s a diagnostic for you. (46:07)

 

Here’s the first thing, when it comes to your life, take a look at when disappointment prompts frustration. Disappointment in your life seems to generate a lot of anger, disappointment in your life gets you really frustrated and – to use a biblical word – vexed. You get vexed over it. How do you deal with disappointment? The prideful people, like King Ahab just to enlist an example, husband of Jezebel, sees a vineyard that he wants, Naboth’s vineyard. And he really wants it and then his desire is blocked. He can’t get it, he tries to negotiate and he can’t get it. He doesn’t get it, he’s disappointed. He goes home disappointed to talk to his wife Jezebel about that. And what does the Bible say, there’s the words, he was sullen and vexed. Sullen and vexed. Now there’s a prideful man who didn’t get what he wants and he gets really frustrated over that. Now all of us are going to live with disappointment, you’re going to want things, they’re not going to happen, how do you respond to that? The prideful person is vexed and sullen. He’s frustrated and angry. (47:09)

 

When Job was disappointed, stated as the godly person, and of course you can’t be godly without that core humility in your virtue of your life. And so, here’s a humble man like Job, talk about disappointment, he’s planning the funerals of his kids that have just died. What does he say, the thing that should blow your mind every time you read it? And what does he say? The Lord is given and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. How different is that? A guy can’t get a vineyard that he wants and he’s frustrated and angry. A man can’t get the rest of his children’s life because they’re dead and he says, you know the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. What? Well that’s a humble man who recognizes this, that every child you have, every camel you own, every sheep in your pen is all a gift of God. You don’t deserve it, it’s grace. And now God has chosen to take some of that back. Can you still sit and say in your disappointment, you think he cried at his kid’s funeral? Absolutely but he says ultimately, I recognize something as a humble servant of God, I didn’t deserve getting it and God has the right to take it away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I know that’s a radical distinction. Ahab and Job but that’s a good place to start. (48:19)

 

How about this one? When you’re criticized, does your criticism prompt retaliation? Let’s put that one down. Does your disappointment prompt frustration? How about this? Does your criticism, when you’re criticized how much retaliation and revenge does it prompt in you? Someone hurts your feelings, you’re going to hurt them. You feel slighted by someone, you’re going to go out and try and do your retaliatory kind of, I’m going to talk about them I’m going to tear them down. How much of that is going on in your life? You know the Pharisees as we learned in Luke 11 when we studied that, they were insulted. The scribes and Pharisees were insulted by the teaching of Christ. And if you track what’s going on with the Pharisees, it ends up that those guys ramp-up to the place of having him crucified. Taken through the kangaroo court on that night when he was betrayed and all of this unfolds because they’re bitter and they’re angry and they’re retaliatory. You see that all the time with prideful people. Cain and his pride, he’s basically insulted by the gift of his brother. He’s going to go kill him, retaliation. (49:22)

 

How does a humble person respond to criticism? Completely different, the extent to which you see frustration and disappointment and the extent to which you see retaliation coming out of your life. When you’re criticized. I mean that’s the extent to which your humble or prideful and I think of David when he was criticized. Remember Absolom takes over the kingdom? He’s getting basically shooed out of the capital city and as he’s going a man named Shimai comes up with rocks and dirt clods. And then he starts throwing them at David and cursing David and of course his captain of the army says to David in this little humble caravan that’s leaving the town. Let me go over, unsheathe my sword and let me kill him. And I’m thinking most of us are going to go, okay have at it. And he says, “No, put your sword away.” He understands this as a humble person, under the great providential provision of God, that he can’t control things like this. He cannot control people’s opinions of him and people are throwing rocks at him and he says this, put your sword away, the Lord has obviously called him, appointed him to curse him. Here’s the words, he says leave him alone, let him curse, the Lord has told him to do so. Does he think he deserves it? No, next verse. May it be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me today that the Lord will repay me with good for the cursing today that I’m receiving. So what’s he saying? I know this is unjust criticism but you know what? My response isn’t retaliation, in the humility of King David he says, you know what? Maybe God will see it and see the injustice of it and maybe God will do good to me and deal with this. That’s a far cry from the retaliation of the scribes and Pharisees or of Cain. (50:53)

 

When disappointment prompts a lot of frustration, when criticism prompts retaliation, how about this third diagnostic, when pressure in your life prompts anxiety. I know you think that’s the acceptable sin, especially you ladies think it’s okay, I’m just a caring Mom, I’m worried, I’m anxious, I mean that’s Mom’s job. No, it’s not, it’s sin and it’s a reflection of your pride. Anxiety is a reflection of your pride. Now think this through. Jesus said to quote the passage I’ve been quoting now which is Luke chapter 12, by worrying you can’t even add a single hour to your life. Do you think worrying will keep your baby in the crib alive? No, do you think anxiety is somehow going to protect your children? No, none of that does anything, because why? Because God is in charge, God does not watch a sparrow drop from the tree without his sovereign control. Now you think you’ve got control when you don’t have control. You know what the Bible says? You need to – I’m quoting now 1 Peter 5 – humble yourself under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you at the proper time. There might be a lot of pressure and you’re feeling down but he’ll pick you up at the right time. You know the next verse? Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. You want to put together Luke 12 with 1 Peter 5 you’ve got it, you shouldn’t be anxious because God is in charge. If you humbly live your life under the mighty hand of God with humility you know when you feel the pressure your only response is to humbly give him your requests. Give your anxieties to him and again I know I’m hitting on a very, you know, socially acceptable sin among us Christians but as God looks at the Somalian Police here this morning gathered for the sermon, he’s going, this is bad it reflects your pride. It’s time for you to cast your anxieties on him. Frustration coming from disappointment, retaliation from criticism, anxiety from pressure. Every Christian who’s humble is going to be disappointed, criticized and have pressure. Every Christian who is prideful is going to have disappointment, criticism and pressure. The question is how do you respond to the extent that you see a lot of frustration, retaliation, anxiety, man you’ve got to top priority for you is working on humbling yourself. (53:00)

 

Well how do you do it? Well let’s start with the passage I just quoted, 1 Peter chapter 5. It says that you have to cast your anxieties on him. Well that’s an act of prayer you recognize. So let’s just start with that, you want to make this a constructive positive list, here it comes. You’ve got to pray a lot more. Prideful people don’t pray, they think they can handle it. As a matter of fact, the only time they pray is when they’ve done everything they can do and nothing is changing so now it’s time I guess to go to God. That’s a prideful heart. That’s a heart that does not live under the reality that in him we live and move and have our being. They don’t understand the he gives us life and breath and everything else. And I don’t have time for all these connections but if you could just look at the virtue of faith as something so connected in scripture to humility. You cannot be a faith filled person without humility that recognizes the reality that God is in charge and God is sovereign. And the way that you reflect that and express that is through prayer. (53:55)

 

By the way not just bringing him petitions but just to use the old phrases here, bringing him also your praise. In other words, your prayer life needs to be advanced not only in how you cast your anxieties on him but when you see the connection by every good and perfect gift coming from him that you give him thanks. There’s another reason you can reflect the need for your humility, that you got to humble yourself, because you don’t do a lot of thanksgiving. If your prayer life could just move up, you’ve got two basic things you can do. You can ask God for things and you can thank God for things. And those two things only really flow from a humble heart. But pray. (54:31)

 

How about this one just to practical. Ponder the price of sin, just ponder that more often. If you want to think in the scripture how a person is really humble they see their sin for what it is. When Peter sees Christ and he recognizes his holiness he says away from me I’m a sinful man. Isaiah says with God high and exalted I’m a man of unclean lips. When you see the sin as being a big deal, well that’s when you really reflect a humble heart. So ponder the price of sin. What did sin cost? What does gossip cost? What does retaliation and vindictiveness cost? What did lustful thoughts cost? Well it cost Christ being pinned to a Roman execution rack. And then maybe we get back to the statements of our hymn from last week that I quoted, when I survey, when I ponder, the wondrous cross, on which the prince of glory died. You can think of what a huge sacrifice it is. My riches gain I count but loss. We looked at that last week, now here’s the part we need to focus in on. And I pour contempt on all my pride. You can’t really be prideful looking at the cross going what I did bad last week those are the things that made that possible. He died because of my sin and rebellion. Guess what that is? It makes you a humble person before God. That he would go to such an extent as to save you. You want to talk about Psalm 8 on steroids, here it is, what is man that you would think of him. How about this? What is man that you would die for him? I mean that you would spill the blood of Christ so that we could be forgiven. Humble yourself, you’ve got to see the need, do some diagnostic checks, you got to pray a lot more, you’ve got to ponder the price of sin. I’m out of time so let me just give you one more and wrap up this. (56:08)

 

You need to truly value the example of Christ, truly value that. You all give lip service to it and so do I. Oh Christ, want to be like Christ, be like Christ. Look at the life of Christ, he didn’t retaliate, he was so confident in the overarching sovereignty of God, he was willing to be someone who not only didn’t worry, he wasn’t frustrated, he didn’t retaliate. I mean here was a person who was willing to lay down his life for sinful people. And when you start looking at passages on humility the classic one I suppose would be Philippians 2, when it says, do everything with a humble mindset. I’ll read it for you, do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourself. Don’t just look out for your own interest, look out for the interest of others. There’s the expression of humility, and then it says this, oh you really want the best example? Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus and then here it comes, his laying aside of his glory so that he could save us. If you start to value what Christ did in coming in the incarnation, in serving, putting up with guys like Peter, James and John. If you really look at what he did by going to a cross so that we could be forgiven and you say look at him, he didn’t come to serve he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. That’s going to drive you to a humble perspective about who you are. I want to emulate that. Humble yourself. (57:27)

 

Now if you slept through this sermon or part of it. You’re going to go away in your car today and you’re going to go, “Yeah we talked about humility. I guess I’ve got to be more humble.” You really weren’t paying attention or maybe you were but you don’t understand the rest of scripture. You may think that’s synonymous with being more passive, more chill or more go with the flow. Don’t cause many problems, don’t have strong opinions. I mean humble people they’re just kind of milk-toast. I’m mean they’re just kind of wall-flowers. Not at all. You notice the subtitle of this message? It doesn’t say ambition verses virtue because guess what? Ambition is a virtue. It says worldly ambition. The problem with the Pharisees who were full of themselves, jockeying for the best position at a dinner, was they were all about self-promotion. Right? You should be ambitious, let me prove it to you. Quote one last passage, Matthew 12. Jesus said this, whoever would be great among you, now think about that. You’d think if he’s all about not wanted to be great, or you not wanting to be great, or you not wanting to be ambitious. He’d say don’t any of you do that. No, no, whoever will be great among you, let him be your servant. He’s just giving us the instructions for being great. Whoever would be first. Well he didn’t want us to be first. Paul says I’m not running this race to come in second, I’m running to win. What’s the point? He says, “Well, let him be the slave of all.” And then the famous verse, even the son of man didn’t come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. What’s the point? The point is that ambition is not the problem, it’s worldly ambition. The kind of ambition you should have, you should sit in a sermon like this and you should say, I need to be humble. What does that mean? I need to be great in the kingdom of God. And to be great in the kingdom of God is to put my needs behind myself, to put other people first, to willingly sacrifice for the good of others. To lay aside my rights and prerogative so I can be more like Christ to be intrepid about my service for the kingdom of God and not worry about what I need. I mean these are the kinds of things that reflect the greatness of the kingdom so I’m not down at all with ambition. I would like you to be great, I would like you to be first, I’d like you to be the kind of church that’s marked by great Christians but those Christians are not going to be applauded by the world because they’re very very different what the world expects from us, we’re prayerful, thankful, dependent people that know we are not worthy of the things that God is so willing to graciously give us. Let’s pray. (59:57)

 

God help us please hard call on a sermon like this. I know we can try to define these words in a way that tucks them into our lives that allows us as we saw last week in 1 John 2 to still chase the pride of life and then try to think we’re somehow humble. But God the world is completely pitted against what you want and the virtues you want to create in us and that is that we would learn to be like Christ, humble, doesn’t mean we’re milk-toast, doesn’t mean we don’t have convictions, doesn’t mean we don’t have strong opinions. It just means that we’re not living for ourselves and we are not about self-promotion that we don’t think we’re entitled to anything, we don’t think we deserve anything and if you were to take things away from our life today, we would be so painfully disappointed that we could still say with the humble of the earth, the Lord gave and the Lord took away. I certainly don’t deserve it and even if I do everything right in my Christian life as we’re going to learn here in the book of Luke and I’ve don’t everything I should, I should say I’m an unworthy slave I’ve only done that which I ought to have done. God give us a humble perspective but one that’s zealous for what’s right, one that’s purposed to live more and more like Christ as we see our position in light of eternity, as we see ourselves in light of the glory of God as we recognize that everything comes from your hand and we need to be dependent, thankful, petitioning Christians, marked by prayer and humility. Make that a reality for us, in Jesus name, Amen. (1:01:25)

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