Text: Matthew 23:1-12
We often think of humility as a rather dreary virtue. We know we need it but we don’t expect it to be much fun. A bit like going to the dentist.
C.S. Lewis stated that humility is a far from dreary virtue saying: “to even get near, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.” Tim Keller (The reason for God: Belief in An Age of Skepticism) said something similar ‘There’s nothing more relaxing than humility.’ As he explained, pride grumbles at everything but humility can joyfully receive life as a gift.
So perhaps we get it backwards: we think humility is an unnecessary burden but in reality it is as light as a feather. Instead it is pride that makes life Grey and drab; humility brings out the colour.
Why do we get this wrong? part of the answer might be we simply misunderstand what humility is. C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Humility can mean when a ‘proud and disobedient person is brought into subjection’ or ‘submission to another’s will’. Sometimes humility is forced while other times it happens willingly
1.Humility Begins With a Sense of Subordination or Submission to God in Christ. ‘A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master’ Matthew 10:24
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time He may raise you up.’ 1 Peter 5:6 Summing up humility simply it is acknowledging our need of and our dependancy upon God.
Even those in authority serve: Jesus served the disciples (washed their feet). We cannot practice humility without practicing service (being submissive).
2.Humility Is Obedience To Christ Jesus
Zephaniah 2:3a Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do His just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility;
Zephaniah understood that the humble strive for three things: (1) The Lord(2) Righteousness and (3) Obedience Righteousness and obedience comes from seeking the Lord first which in turn, gives the student of Jesus ‘shelter’ from God’s wrath.
Likewise James says: ‘Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.’ James 1:21
Humility has to start with a willingness to submit in obedience to Christ Jesus.
3.Humility Does Not Presume Any Right to Better Treatment Than Jesus. “If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of His household!” Matthew 10:25b
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:21 -23
4.Humility Encourages Truth Not Building Ego At Any Cost.
“Love rejoices with the truth” 1 Corinthians 13:6 Jesus Himself said “What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light. . . . Do not fear those who kill the body…” Matthew 10:27-28
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servant for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5
5.Humility Knows It is Dependent on Grace In Everything. What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
1 Corinthians 4:7. “In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” James 1:21
A person who thinks he or she is greater than another will experience a “downfall” Proverbs 11:2; 16:18; 29:23a but the humble will have strength and the determination to live.
“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” St Augustine (Theologian/Philosopher)
6.Humility Knows It is Imperfect
Because there is a conscious awareness of our imperfection is able to learn from those who do things differently. Different isn’t wrong. “A wise man is he who listens to counsel” Proverbs 12:15
Humility allows us to embrace in love those who are not like us. It allows us to go to places and people that our simply humanity perhaps would not.
But humility doesn’t dwell in the place of imperfection because it also knows, that God has made provision for human weakness and that He calls us to share the really good news of salvation others. “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” 2 Corinthians 5:11
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility at the very end of his chapter on pride.
If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more or less of myself but thinking of myself less.