Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, August 2, 2017.
Humility goes against all that we are made of. We don’t have a grasp of what it’s truly about. We might think that it’s about saying the right words, apologizing, and giving the appropriate, “I’m sorry.” But it’s so much more than that. Humility is being like Christ.
Pride is all over our society. It is celebrated! We even have parades named after pride. The Gay Pride parade is all over the world, and symbolizes people being proud of their homosexuality. It’s a very in-your-face display of their sexual nature. They are proud of who they are as homosexual men and women. They dance in skimpy clothes, wave rainbow flags, and shout, “Here I am!”
We all learn to be proud. We are told to be proud of who we are, to stand up for ourselves! Be proud of who you are. Is that the best advice?
During high school, I got a job working at Blockbuster Video. We could rent 5 movies a week. So, I got into mafia movies like “Godfather,” and “Goodfellas.” The mafia men were proud of who they were. There was a whole family tradition behind what they did. I liked the acting of Al Pacino, so I rented “Scarface.” He played Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who ended up making tons of money as a drug lord. He was full of pride! He spent his money lavishly, lived in a huge mansion, and smoked cigars. His drug enemies started coming into his mansion, and killed his men. He pulled out a huge gun, started killing, and ended up dying in a pool of blood in front of a statue that says, “The World is Yours.” He was proud of who he was. He had a distorted view of who he was. He thought one way of himself. But who was Tony Montana, really? He was a rich drug addict who killed a lot of people, hurt a lot of people, and ended up dying as a terrible man in a pool of blood. Pride leads to destruction.
Right now in Venezuela, there is a president that is attempting to set up a dictatorship. I’m sure he is proud of his power as president. He is proud of what he is doing. Yet, he is taking away the country’s constitution, and imprisoning opposition leaders. People are rioting. There are people protesting and getting killed. This president’s pride is bigger than his willingness to listen to the will of the people, and they are getting hurt.
The world will tell you to be proud of who you are. The world encourages pride. But the Bible says something different. The Bible points to Christ, and says, “humility.” What does the Bible say specifically about humility?
Humility is the character of an authentic Christian
First, we should know that humility is the character of an authentic Christian. Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi. Paul is currently in prison, and is remembering the church as having a good beginning. He talks of his trust in God. He talks about his confidence that God, who began a good work in this church, will continue to bring it forward. He writes this letter to encourage the church to continue in the faith.
He starts off chapter 2 of Philippians by speaking about the characteristics of authentic belief in Christ.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1–4
He says that if you are an authentic believer in Christ, you will be encouraged by Christ. You will have a comfort in the great love of Christ. His love will be making a big difference in your life, and the Holy Spirit will be working in your life.
He says that as you see these things developing in your life, the encouragement of Christ, the love of Christ, the Spirit’s work in your life, you will start to develop within you the mindset and character of Christ. You will treat people well, because humility will be a hallmark of your life. In “lowliness of mind,” you will “esteem others as better than yourself.”
A man would hurry home from work through the same street every day. Along the street, he would see the same old woman sitting in a baggy brown dirty coat, ragged blue jeans, and a blue knit cap. Her hair was brown and dirty. She was wrinkled from the elements, and would often stare down at the ground. She sat there in the corner every day with a cardboard sign that read, “Need money for food.” At first, the man noticed her, but kept walking. After a while she became part of the scenery, just like the buildings and trees around him on his way to his car.
One day, his wife dropped his daughter off at his job. His daughter was eight years old, and was excited. She had twenty dollars in her pocket, enough to get the new doll that she wanted, and her dad was going to take her to the toy store. Her dad left work, and took her by the hand to walk to the car. Along the way, his daughter noticed the wrinkly, old lady sitting in the corner. The daughter stopped and read the sign, “Need money for food.” She thought of that twenty dollars in her pocket, the money that was supposed to be for the doll. The girl reached into her pocket, pulled out the crumpled up twenty-dollar bill, and handed it to the old woman in the brown coat. The wrinkled woman looked up from beneath her knit cap, looked at the little girl with water welling up in her eyes, and said, “God bless you.”
Like that little girl, a Christian should think of others as better than themselves. A Christian will look out for the interest of others. A Christian should love others.
Rick Warren wrote in the Purpose Driven Life, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” As the Spirit of God works in your life, you start to think of yourself less. God uses people to reach people. God starts to develop the mindset of Christ in your life. He develops a humility in your life, because Christ was humble. He builds you up in love, because that is an essential part of who He is, love. He is shaping you to look like Christ. Humility is the character of an authentic Christian.
Humility is being obedient like Christ
Second, humility is being obedient like Christ. Paul opens verse 5 speaking about the mindset we should have in Christ.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5–8
We are told that our mind should reflect the mind of Christ, that our character should be like His character. We are told to be obedient like Christ. He is God, but He didn’t hold that over people. Instead, He made Himself like us, emptying Himself from His position to take on the form of a slave, and as a man. Here God was, walking around as a man. His humility knew no bounds. He was obedient enough even to die, and a horrible death at that, a death on the cross.
The idea of it is deeply profound. God became a man, and dwelt among us. It is like a king. The king owns the whole kingdom. Everything is his. He has servants, and everyone does what he commands. Yet, he wants to come down to his people. So, he gets off his royal throne, takes off his gold crown, and then takes his royal robes off. He puts on dirty clothes, and goes to sit in the dirt with the poorest of the poor.
Second Corinthians 8:9 states: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” He believed that we were valuable enough that He would come and save us. That took a divine amount of humility. That is who Jesus is. His love is shown in His humility, that Jesus, who is God, the owner of all, came and dwelled among us, to save us from ourselves.
What was it like for Jesus to empty Himself of His privilege as God to take on our low, miniscule existence? The thought is mind boggling. The human brain can’t totally comprehend what it took for Jesus to take our place. All we can do is sit in awe as we consider the humility of Christ who take on our place.
When the Spirit of God leads us to be humble, our humility is making us like Christ. So, how can we show this kind of humility? Paul says that in His humility, He was “obedient to the point of death.” We remember Jesus, sweating drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). His humility was shown in His obedience. If we are going to be humble like Christ, we must be obedient to Him.
Obedience to God says that I am going to put my will aside, and make Your will the priority in my life. I am going to serve Christ no matter what it costs me.
Around the world, people are taking a stand for Christ. Their humility moves them to be obedient to Christ. In 2015, Christian Freedom International reported that more than 200 million Christians are facing persecution in 105 countries. They state that a Christian is martyred for their faith every 5 minutes. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.
Here is one such story of a persecuted Christian woman in Pakistan.
Asia Bibi, her husband, and two daughters, were one of three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families. Her female coworkers had often pressured her to renounce her faith. After a discussion on June 19, 2009, Asia responded to the women by sharing her faith in Christ. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told the women, “and yours is not true.”
The Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia, who was then locked in a closet. An announcement from the mosque loudspeaker declared that Asia would have her face blackened and be paraded through a village on a donkey. Christians informed the police, who immediately rescued her from being beaten, but Muslim authorities later pressed charges against the Christian woman.
What did it take for this woman to have this bold faith in Christ? How did she have the strength to face her persecutors? She knew that Christ “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.” When we are humble, God gives us the strength to be obedient.
Humility is the character of an authentic Christian. Humility is being obedient like Christ.
Humility glorifies Christ
Third, humility glorifies Christ. When we exhibit the character of Christ, we glorify Him with our lives. Paul starts verse 9 with a “therefore.” This refers to the humility of Christ, that He “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death” on a cross.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9–11
The humility that leads to obedience has real consequences. Because of His great obedience, the Father greatly glorified the Son. He gave Jesus the greatest name of all. At the name of Jesus everyone, everywhere, of all time, will bow down and confess that Jesus, the Messiah, is Lord of all, and the Father will receive the glory. You, whether you are a Christian today or not, will bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord.
The world would tell you that humility is a sign of weakness. Humility is not weak, it is strong. Jesus showed His great power and His strength in His humility. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). The world will tell you to puff yourself up, to make yourself look important. Jesus shows His strength by taking on our lowly position, and being obedient to death on a cross. He was strong in His humility. His humility was His glory.
When we are reminded of His humility, we are reminded of how He emptied Himself of His privilege to take on our place. In the same way, we must empty ourselves; we must be willing to be weak in ourselves, “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
It is said of George Mueller, the great Christian evangelist and Director of a large orphanage in England, that:
When a man asked George Mueller the secret of his service, Mueller responded: “There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.”
Are you willing to empty yourself of your will, in order to put on God’s will for you in Christ? Are you making yourself weak, so that He is strong? Are you humbly following Christ in obedience? The hymn of Amazing Grace says,
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me…
Humility looks at reality, and sees how much of a wretch we are without Christ. There is nothing within me that is good, nothing that I want to hold on to. I need none of me. I need all of Christ. He is all that is good and great. I am a wicked, desperate man without Him. Humbly, I will follow Him in all obedience. He was humble, so I will be humble. I am weak, because I want Him to be strong in my life. Humility glorifies Christ.
Paul reminds us that the Lord Jesus, who is God, was exalted before the world through His obedience. His humility to come and take on flesh became his exaltation before the world, and glorified God. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Man saw the awesome power of God in Jesus Christ in His humility and perfect character. His name is great because of all that He is. His name is great because He is a healer. His name is great because He is a deliverer. His name is great because He has great love for you. His name is great because of His great humility; God came in our place, and took on our sins, to give us life. His name is great, and He is worthy of all the worship, and all the praise.
Every person, of all time, will worship the Lamb of God. “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13). You will humble yourself before Christ. Today is the day to make that happen. Humble yourself today.
Humility is the character of an authentic Christian. Humility is being obedient like Christ. Humility glorifies Christ.
In conclusion, how do we respond? We see that Christ through His humility was highly exalted, that at His name, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There is only one response. In humility, I must rid myself of myself. I must die to myself, in order to take on Him. I need all of Christ. I must bow down to Christ. Today, we, you, must bow down to Christ.
Humility is being obedient and glorifying Christ. We glorify Christ by being like Him. We must live out His life within us. Meditate on what He has done for us. We must think of His sacrificial love for us, and be willing to sacrifice for others. We must think of His mercy on us, and be willing to be merciful to others. We must think of how He healed others, of how kind He is, and be willing to be healing and kind to others. We must think of how humble God was, to come in our place, for us. When we think of His humility, we realize how humble we must be in return. Pride is being like the world. Humility is being like Christ.