A Preventative Dose of Humility Goes a Long Way

Today I wrote the second point of my sermon. It is the first point I have written, so I still have to write the introduction, point 1, point 3, and the conclusion. This is obviously not the final draft. Anything you can add to make it better understood or correct some wrong thought would be greatly appreciated. And prayers for guidance are always appreciated.


Matthew 18:1-4
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 He called a child, whom he put among them,3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

We cannot be Christians without modeling the humility shown by Jesus, a humility that can, at times, seem almost unreal. But, obviously, it is real. We can see it in the lives of some of the great reformers of church history, in some of the quiet spiritual warriors in our church, and, most evidently, in the life of a newborn baby.

A newborn is a perfect example of humility. They totally depend upon others to feed them. They are completely vulnerable if they' aren't kept safe. There is not one ounce of self-reliance in them because they do not have the capability to be self-reliant.

Then they reach Isaac's age. Humility is, unfotunately, no longer their dominant trait. Independence, selfishness, and self-reliance are beginning to creep to dominance. They want to do everything on their own. He will try and try to tie his shoe lace or to stack his blocks in some gigantic structure, but he will usually - or in the case of the shoelaces, always - fail. But in Isaac humility doesn't always manifest itself when he fails, frustration sometimes does. Sometimes, he will become angry and tearful, yet he will still try to do it on his own. That boy will not give up. But once he reaches an emotional frenzy, he will never be able to do it no matter how much he tries. He has to give up and allow us to help him. When he does that, whatever he was trying to do gets done. And hopefully he learned a little more how to do it, so next time he can do it better or even completely on his own.

Humility is much easier to grasp a hold of when you are completely ignorant of how to do what you need to get done. For instance, some of you might know Brian Reinhart. He's a good friend of mine. And the summer before last he taught me how to do an oil change on my car. He was always gifted at mechanical things and I seemed to have missed the boat on that one. My attitude of submission to his knowledge made it real easy to learn. I accepted that he knew better than me, and there was no problem.

That's the way it usually works for most of us in areas where we don't know what to do. In areas that we think we know what to do, we are not as good of a student. Take for instance, folding towels - something that I have, luckily, been able to get out of lately. Back when we lived in Lansing and we were newly married, I wanted to fold the towels the way I had always folded the towels. It worked fine for me to fold them that way when I was single; I couldn't fathom why it couldn't work the same way when I was married. I wouldn't accept a new way. Lindsay would try to show me, and I would just get frustrated. I know. It's silly. Getting frustrated over folding towels. In my mind it all made sense at the moment. I knew how to fold towels, and I wasn't going to change. However, the way I folded them didn't allow them to fit well on the shelves in the closet. When they wouldn't fit in the closet, they had to be refolded. It was a frustrating experience (probably moreso for Lindsay) because I could never remember how to fold them and I probably never really tried. I still don't fold them "properly" to this day.

We oftentimes don't give our stresses, our problems, or our heartaches up to God until they become so severe that we can't exist with them any more. God will be faithful and help us in our time of severe need; however, that is not the plan he has for our life. He wants us to model the humility that Jesus showed and walk our lives humbly submitted to him, always. Never should we think we are so great as to do great things without him. And never should we think we are so strong as to go through the pits of life without him. He wants to be there every step of the way.

But humility is difficult. It is a constant battle with our selfish ambitions. Surrendering our goals, plans, and idea of independence doesn't come easily. But if we truly want to live life and experience it to the full - to taste the greatness that God has planned for us - then we must deny ourselves and daily, humbly submit to His will.

The Cross and Self-Denial - Matt 26:24-28
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

God's kingdom is here now (or else Jesus was a liar - and you can probably figure out where I stand on that one since I am up here saying we need to be more like Jesus), and we, the church, are a glimpse of that kingdom. But what picture of God's kingdom do we give to the world? What do the people of Antwerp think about God because of us? It all depends on if we are truly humbly submitting to God and his will or living in our own selfish ambitions. God wants us, along with every group of believers throughout the world, to be a group of people living together who show the world what it means to be the Kingdom of God. This can't happen if a spirit of humility is not exhibited among us. A genuine spirit of humility will guide us to follow the example of Jesus, humble ourselves, and take on the form of a slave to all of those around us. Picture Christ as yourself. Would your life be any different than it currently is? Would our our church be any different if each of us took seriously the call to humble ourselves and become a slave to our community?

Galatians 5:13-14
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This will lead into point 3.

Watch out for the potholes.