4 - Choose Joy _Humilty_
Do you remember the old Mac Davis song “It’s Hard to be Humble”? Do you even remember Mac Davis?
Anyway, this country song came out back in 1980.
Here are some of the lyrics
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror 'cause I get better lookin' each day
To know me is to love me, I must be a HECK of a man
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, but I'm doin' the best that I can
Funny song, but unfortunately, probably more true for some folks than we want to admit.
We live in a culture that promotes looking out for number one and being the very best at everything.
At the inaugural breakfast for our governor I heard one of the speakers encourage the newly elected officials to stay humble and to be sure they don’t read their own press releases otherwise, their ego will grow to such an extent they’ll believe all those platitudes.
This speaker spoke from experience.
Pride and humility are two things that are covered often in the Bible. Apparently, because we struggle so much with these issues.
There are times when it’s easier to understand what a word really means by contrasting it with another.
John Stott has said for Christians “Pride is our greatest enemy.” Conversely, humility can be one of our greatest friends.”
Where does pride originate?
According to the writings in Isaiah, pride – in it’s origin and practice is demonic and evil. Satan, originally created as an angel of God developed a pride that led to his downfall and his casting out of heaven. In essence, pride was the first sin.
In his temptation of Adam and Eve, pride was the tool. “You can be like God.”
Pride is also an encouragement to compare ourselves to others. This is evident not just as adults, but begins in the school yard. We tend to pick people we feel are less than us – less intelligent, less successful, less affluent, less attractive, etc.
You’ve heard the saying “the smartest guy in the room.” There’s a tendency to be that person.
You want a reality check? You struggle with pride? Change who you’re comparing yourself to. . .rather than other people, compare yourself to Jesus Christ.
This will help.
Lining up against perfection will humble you.
Another thing about pride is that it covets the successes of others. Pride results often in celebrating that others don’t do well and also being jealous of those who do.
That’s why we often become so critical of others when they find success, whether this be a co-worker, neighbor or even family member.
Humility allows us to truly celebrate others’ successes.
Pride is all about me. It’s what I want, when I want it and how I want it. It’s about what I think and what I think I deserve.
Humility is about Jesus and others. The natural bent of man is to be selfish. Humility in a person is truly miraculous.
Pride is about my glory. Humility is about God’s glory.
Pride makes me god. Humility remembers God is God.
Pride leads to arrogance and is repulsive.
Humility leads to confidence. Confidence in knowing truth and standing for it, regardless. Confidence not in “me” but in Christ in me.
What’s the point of pride? Independence! Freedom! Doing my own thing. Isn’t that what Satan wanted? Isn’t that what he offered Adam and Eve. Isn’t that the lie that many have bought into?
Humility’s point is dependence. We can’t do this life on our own. We need God.
Pride is achievable. You can get this. It’s easy. You can obtain a prideful perspective on life.
Humility is a lifelong journey. Just think about it. If you get to the point where you can say “I’ve achieved humility!” you will say that in a prideful way and immediately lose that humility.
It’s like the person who says “Look how humble I am.”
Paul addresses this cancer of pride in his letter to the Philippian church.
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Paul starts this portion with the request to “complete my joy.” The joy, this undergirding principle of the book, is a process. How can it be made complete – by being one as a church, by loving God and each other and not allowing prideful political movements or power struggles ever occur within the body.
There are numerous points here.
First – Paul reminds us that nothing builds a church stronger and healthier than humility. Consequently, nothing destroys a fellowship quicker than pride – and that’s referenced to everyone in the church: pastors, deacons, teachers, members, youth, children, etc.
The church is a fragile body. We all know of churches that have been around for decades and seems strong and seemingly will remain forever. However, we also know that there are seemingly strong churches that, for one reason or another, disappear or exist as a shell of what they used to be or could be. Often the culprit is pride.
The church world doesn’t help in this. We preach on humility and guard against pride and yet, even denominations and church leaders, and members too, fall into the trap of prideful comparison.
“Oh, how many did you baptize last year? Not bad. We baptized such and such.”
“You mean your church doesn’t have a program for this? Ours does and it’s great.”
“What’s your annual church budget?”
“How big is your youth group?”
Oh, we fall into this left and right in our culture.
I believe one of the key phrases in this passage is found in verse 2
“but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
This is counter to our nature. This is not how we’re wired, nor is it what we are encouraged to do in our culture.
So often things are done in church, work, school and even home that get the needed results, but the process is flawed.
At times it may be that “the tone was offensive and tactics weren’t exactly great and . . . yeah, some folks were kind of run over in the process, but in the end the result was good.” We use this flawed process of thinking to justify our behavior at times. It’s an “end justifies the means” mentality that results in hurt people and according to this passage – it isn’t acceptable.
The motive, method and mission all count. Pursuing a good thing in a bad way makes the entire pursuit bad. God will not be pleased.
Paul gives us our comparison – Christ. The most humble man to ever live. When he says this in verse 5:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, we’re reminded that only because of Christ are we even able to have true humility.
Apart from Christ, it’s not achievable.
Only Christians have the capacity to understand humility, not because we’re better than anyone else, but because we know the root of all humility is the heart of God, found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul continues in verse six to remind us that Christ, though fully God, emptied himself in the incarnation, through humility, to become man.
One pastor used this illustration. Do you know the difference between chili and chili con carne? Con carne means “with meat.” The word “carne” comes from the same root that the term “incarnation” comes from, so in very simple theology – Jesus is “God with meat on.” God in the flesh. The incarnation.
This does not mean that while here on earth Jesus ceased to be God. That’s the mystery. Jesus – fully God and fully man. 100% God. 100% man. All at the same time.
Yet, as man, Jesus willingly surrendered his right to manifest himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory. His willing humility or humiliation included making himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being born in human likeness.
He literally “emptied” himself. The word comes from the Greek keno, pointing to the divesting of one’s self-interests, though never emptying himself of his deity.
It comes to the self-evaluating question. . .
Are you humble or proud?
The answer: I’m proud. You’re proud.
The question you must ask is not “Am I proud or humble?” It must be “Am I pursuing humility?”
It is possible and even commanded as a child of God to pursue humility.
We have to come to grips with this or we will continue to live short-circuited spiritual lives.
We have been offered by Christ a life that is abundant and full.
However, we also carry within us this great weapon that can mess it all up. This weapon is called pride.
The bottom line is this. Your name really isn’t that important. My name doesn’t matter that much. The name “First Baptist Church of Orange Park” doesn’t matter that much. What name matters? The name of Jesus Christ.
Why is this? Because there is no other name under heaven by which man or woman or child can be saved.
We have to get this.
If we don’t, we run the sad risk of becoming like so many other churches, ministries, and Christians who lived out their lives or existence on this earth for themselves and consequently, have been forgotten, ignored or avoided because they made no eternally significant impact.
The reality is that God hates pride. It’s all over Proverbs and other books.
If pride has overtaken your heart, realize that it’s a process of treatment toward pursuing humility. It means a change of mind, a change of behavior, a new focus of thinking.
Yet it begins with a change of heart. Today, you can make that change.