July 30, 2017


          In our Call to Worship, a preacher who thought he would be given great honors was not even allowed to sit at the wedding banquet that is prophesied in Revelation 19 - a time when the Bride of Christ, the church, celebrates its eternal union with Jesus.  While this is merely a poetic parable I put together to illustrate a combination of Bible verses, the Bible clearly states that there will be those who believe they have done great works in the name of the Lord, but are not truly redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  While I do not consider myself worthy or qualified to judge the heart of another, the Holy Spirit knows who is and who is not chosen to participate in the heavenly wedding feast.  And just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day outwardly appeared very religious, but inwardly reeked of the stench of self-righteous pride and arrogance; today we also have false prophets whom Jesus said, “will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones.” (Matthew 24:24).  The apostle Paul also warned us by saying “such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their actions.”  

          So what does this have to do with humility?  Those whose heart is right with God will not do or say anything in order to bring glory to themselves, but will give all glory for their words and actions to Almighty God.  Paul said in Colossians 3:12 that we are to be clothed with humility, and in Philippians 2:3 he tells us to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  Do you think you are better than the person sitting next to you?  Or in front of you?  Or behind you?  Or who didn’t attend church today?  As I told the children, Jesus loves everyone, no matter who they are; from the tiniest baby, to the biggest superstar.  You might think God at least values you more than the person who rejects Christ.  No, Jesus loves them, and his heart is broken over their rejection of Him.  We need to have compassion and do everything possible to bring that person to Christ, before they are lost for all of eternity.  Or you might think, how about the Christian who is backslidden and living a life of sin?  Surely God loves me more.  Are you forgetting the story of the prodigal son?  And the ‘good son’ who was furious when the father welcomed him home and threw a party for him?  We need to have compassion on our brothers and sisters who have drifted away, show them that we care, and that we want them back in the fold.  Not out of a heart full of judgment and pride in our own unwavering dedication to God and His church, but out of love and a desire for restoration of the soul that lost their way.

          And if that isn’t enough to convince you to lose the pride, and humble yourself before God, psychologists have even proven it to be healthier to be humble.  Mark R. McMinn, in an article titled “The Science of Humility” in a recent issue of ‘Christianity Today’, said that studies have now found a striking array of benefits around forgiveness.  Compared to less-forgiving peers, forgiving people have lower blood pressure; lower bad cholesterol and resting heart rates; improved sleep and immune systems, less depression, anxiety, and anger; enhanced relationships, more optimism, and a greater sense of overall well-being.  Similarly, grateful people view their lives more favorably than others, have increased energy and self-confidence, and demonstrate better coping.  They are more generous and optimistic, have a greater sense of purpose, have fewer medical problems, and sleep better than their peers.  Humility research was stymied for a time because of the challenges with having people self-report how humble they are.  (Hence the title of my sermon – for if you take pride in your humility, are you truly humble?)  But several research labs have discovered better ways to assess humility, and it was found that as with forgiveness and gratitude, humility fosters physical, mental, and relational health.  Humble people are more forgiving and grateful, so they enjoy the benefits of those virtues.  They are also more generous and helpful than others, have better romantic relationships, have less anxiety about death, and experience less spiritual struggle.  They perform better at school and work, show more compassion to others, and even have better self-esteem than less humble people. 

          Does that last one seem to be an oxymoron?   How can self-esteem be better in humble people?  Because while humble people put God first, others second, and themselves last – they do not believe they are any less important to God than anyone else.  As I said earlier, God loves each and every person, and that includes me, and you.   How can knowing you are loved by Almighty God not give you healthy self-esteem?  True, we are all sinners, but we are sinners that God loved enough to send His Son to suffer and die to redeem us.  Jesus died and rose again for me, for you, and for everyone else that has ever lived, is living now, or will live in the future.  While not all people accept him, and some choose to spend their eternity away from His presence (which God allows because He has given us the gift of free choice), He loves even those who reject Him and is deeply saddened that they refuse His love.

     So who would be the best examples of humility for us to follow?  In Numbers 12:3 we read, “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  Look at everything Moses had done… He overcame his slowness of speech, went before the ruler of Egypt with a demand from God, performed miracles to persuade the Pharaoh to let all of the people of Israel go who had been working as his slaves, parted the Red Sea, was hand-delivered God’s commandments, and led a vast multitude through the wilderness.  And yet the Bible says he was the most humble man on the face of the earth at that time!  Moses knew in his heart that everything he had done was through the power of God, not his own power.  He gave God all the glory, as should we.  But there is someone whose humility rivals even that of Moses.  Of course, that is our Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 2:5-8 says, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!”  Now THAT is humility!  So let us strive, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to have that same mindset with one another.  Amen.