Living Humility

by Duane Maust
Luke 14: 7-14
April 13, 2008

This is our last red-letter edition for the series. Here again are some important words Jesus has for us today. He is talking about being humble again.

When Augustine was asked what are the three most important Christian virtues, Augustine replied, “Humility, humility, and humility.” This great virtue is often in very short supply in our culture. Even very good people have a hard time being really humble.

This is a little story that Jesus told to make a point. He would tell a parable to help his teaching. So if you go to a wedding and don’t know where to sit, he suggests that you set farther from the head table and be asked to move closer to the head table.

Read verse 9-13.

What about Christmas exchanges? I don’t want to say they are all bad. But we need to teach our children how to give when we do not expect anything back.

It is like the times my mother helps a neighbor lady that is widowed and in her upper 80’s. This lady is lucky to be living, let alone help you back in any way.

We desire to have the best seats. We crave the box seats at sporting events. Courtside seats at the basketball, 50-yard line tickets for football, front row seats for the concert and so on.

The illustration that Jesus was making was clear and vivid. Jesus was not really that concerned about telling his dinner guest where to sit or host whom to invite. What he really wanted to get through everyone’s head and heart was that what they believed, thought, and acted was not God’s way. It wasn’t and isn’t the way truly righteous people behave, because believers are not concerned with self-promotion and self-glorification.

I heard of a businessman who was asked to give his testimony. He said, “I have a fine family, a large house, a successful business, and a good reputation. I have plenty of money so I can support some Christian ministries in a generous way. Many organizations want me on their board of directors. I have good health. What more could I ask from God?” As he paused for effect, a voice shouted from the back of the auditorium, “How about asking him for a good dose of humility?”

I think we all have a problem with being humble at times. It is too easy for us to let things go to our heads. It is so easy to let that pride sneak into our lives.

My mind went to a passage that I studied at Rosedale Bible Institute. That passage is Romans 12: 3(read) “Do not think yourself more highly the you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

What do you hear that verse saying? Watch that head of yours so that it doesn’t get too big. Keep in mind where you get what you have. We get many blessing from God. He gives us many things. We must remember one basic fact of life. God is the source of everything that we have.

Why is humility so important? Is pride really that big of a problem? The short answer is, “Yes, pride is a problem.” We realize that the word “pride” has a couple of different meanings, so in a sense there is a good pride and a bad pride. In the next months some of you will see your children walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. You will be happy for them and glad that they could meet that accomplishment. That will be a good accomplishment and you will say you had a positive emotional reaction that night. We were proud of his accomplishment.

There are two things that make it a bad type of pride. The first problem is if we forget God and think our accomplishment is due to our ability or effort. There is nothing wrong with celebrating an achievement, as long as we remember that was a gift from the Lord. Our celebration should always include expressions of praise and gratitude to God.

When we try to take credit for our accomplishments and ignore what God has given, pride has become a problem.

The second way pride becomes a problem is when we think we are better than someone else because of something we have done. If receiving a high school diploma causes you to think, “Well, I’m a better person than that guy in my class who did not graduate,” then pride has become a problem.

Let’s look at why humility is important for spiritual maturity. Jesus said in Luke 18:13-14 something important. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Let’s think about what that says. If we are proud, we will be made humble. And if we are humble, we will be exalted. I think that exalted means a reward in heaven.

Proverbs 3:34 has some important words on this subject.

James and Peter both quote this verse in their letters. Pride hinders our relationship to God.

C. S. Lewis put it this way: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people, and of course, as long as you are looking down, you can’t see something that is above you.”

If we are going to have healthy souls, we are to be faithful in following Jesus and we need to get rid of the pride and put on humility.

One of the reasons Jesus was able to relate so well to others was his humility.

Read Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus is telling us that to be bound to him will be easy in the long haul. You will find rest in your soul. It will feel good down in here. Jesus sure had some enemies, but people in general really wanted to be around him. I think part of that reason was his humility. Humility is attractive.

I am convinced that a key ingredient in being effective in the Christian walk, regardless of who you are, is to develop that attitude that Paul says we should have in Philippians 2: 3-4.

Each of you should look not to your own interest, but the interest of others. This really goes against the grain in our culture that is so self-centered. We are part of the “me-generation.” Many people claim it to be their right. We like people who are interested in us, not just in themselves. We like to listen to people who talk about our concerns and not just their own.

A very prosperous farmer was asked about the secret of his success. He replied, “I learned from an old rooster on my father’s farm. He could peck harder, jump faster, fly higher, and fight better then any other rooster we had. The trouble was that just as he was winning a fight, he would stop to crow. I learned a key to success is to not crow when you think you are doing well.” Our job is not to convince people how wonderful we are, but to show them how glorious Jesus Christ is.

What did Jesus do when he could have come into Jerusalem on a white horse? Matt 21:5 has him coming into town on a humble donkey. Jesus was setting an example for us. He could be a leader and still be humble. He could get on his knees and wash his disciples’ feet.

Do we know how to get on our knees and be humble? Do we run a big horse or a donkey?

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