The world runs on performance and appearance. Jesus taught us another way. Frederick Douglass was a slave, beaten and shackled. But he learned humility and cast his cares upon God. He saw the pride and envy that fed slave system. Humility is powerful. Jesus learned as a human and taught us to love our enemies. Isaiah 53:12; 2 Chronicles 33:9-12; 34:27-28
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon # 11598
11:00 AM on 12/23/2018
What do you think of when you think of Christmas? Christ, Our Savior, Jesus in the manger, humility, incarnation, hope, God became a man. This morning we want to speak about humility and in Psalm 113:6, God humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in earth. He humbles himself to look. He is so incredibly awesome and has no need for anything. He is so humble he holds it all together. He allows freedom. He allows people and angels to disagree. He gives freedom. You don’t have to do it his way. If you choose another way, we suffer but still he is so humble he cannot rule by being a dictator. He only will rule by love. If there is love, there has to be freedom. I choose to love. The best way he could touch our hearts was to be humble. So he came as a child. This is a pride culture we live in. Every culture through history has been a proud one. Pride. Self- importance, self-value, self- interest. We are pride. God is not. God is humble. We’ll speak about that this morning.
Is 53 the last verse I want to read before I sit down. Christ will grow up before God as a tender plant. Maybe this is one. You could step on it and crush it; pull it up by the roots. Jesus would come into the world as a tender plant, as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness and when we see him, there is no beauty we would desire him.
In the proud world, two things are important: appearance and performance. Didn’t Mohammed Ali, the fighter, the boxer, say I am the greatest? I am the best that ever existed. The greatest. We may not be that proud, but there are many expressions of pride and performance is important to us. How we do our job, present ourselves, accomplish our goals? It’s not bad but when it’s linked to pride, it’s too important. There is another way, something else God has shown us. My ways are not your ways God said. Appearance. What do we look like? How do we come across to people? Jesus was so humble he didn’t have to look like a movie star. You couldn’t find him by his appearance. He was ordinary and common. God is humble and doesn’t have to look a certain way. He serves the Father. He does the Father’s will. Jesus was not a good looking guy. If we saw him, we wouldn’t desire him. That’s fine because he’s humble. I don’t have to have it my way. I want to have it God’s way. What a lesson. I want to learn God. I want to be humble before God. We learn life in the world and pride is in us all the time and we learn in the world about this whole thing about appearance and performance. We have found another way. It’s a powerful way. It’s a way of humility. The Lord will speak to us.
I would love to sing like that. Wouldn’t it be great? How many can sing like that? There are those special people among us. The discipline. Awesome. That was so good. Handel’s Messiah. He was a born again Christian and I believe he went into an apartment and 21 days he wrote that symphony. He stayed at it with the word of God. It’s beautiful. How did he do that? It’s amazing. The Lord gave it to him. There are probably different versions on it. He was anointed of God to do that.
2 Chron. 32, we see a king that is humble. We see another one in chapter 33 and another king in chapter 34. Our theme this morning is on God’s ways are not our ways. As we said in the introduction, pride is really the way man operates. Sometimes in the business world and political world, they would say you cannot get anywhere by being humble. Have you ever heard that? You will not succeed if you are humble. You have low self-esteem and are passive if you are humble. But it’s the proud that’s what’s needed. I have a piece on that.
“It’s not easy at first glance to see how humility could ever lead to greatness. Humility hardly seems that good let alone great implying something lacking. A loss of strength or sapping of vitality, humility often strikes modern individuals as something to be avoided. Observed superficially. Humility can appear weak and passive, anything but great. Greatness seems strong and energetic, anything but humble. It’s hard to be humble, Mohamed Ali said, when you are as great as I am. Humility is hard to achieve even when you’re not the greatness. More difficult to be great and humble at the same time. After all, humility requires exacting and often painful self-knowledge for any person especially for one who thinks himself great.”
Let me explain that. Humility means we walk before not people but we are walking before God. God sees in you. He sees in your motivation, your heart. He sees you. His eyes are everywhere in Prov. 15:2. When we walk before God, he knows our pride. We bring it to him or open it up. Here Lord. I am proud.
You can search me. Ps. 139 and see if there is anything in me, any evil way. Sometimes now we are in the holidays and families get together and families have differences and sometimes fight with each other about things that may not be that important. But because of pride, I might make some issue to be important. I am right, you know. I am right. Or I see it this way and I can’t imagine you seeing it this other way. I could be combative. I believe we should have disagreements in life. We’re not all the same and we don’t all think the same and there are differences, but look at J.C who is God comes into a sinful world and he is solid and humble and he is dealing with problems but at the same time in dealing with problems he is loving and humble and true and wise. Maybe we fight too much with ourselves and each other because we are not humble. Maybe we pick issues.
One illustration we used a year ago, Joseph found out Mary was pregnant and thought I could make it a public issue or put her away privately. I can publicly embarrass her, shame her, tell everyone she is pregnant and I’m not the father of the child. It’s shameful. I don’t understand this, or privately send her away. As he was thinking on these two ways, God showed him a third way and that was to marry her. It’s a good illustration of where we can fall in life. We have different positions we can take but maybe there is another one we have not thought about. God will show you. The Spirit will teach you. Regarding Noah and his fighting, fleeing, – when you are confronted by danger you can run away from it or fight it. If I meet a bear in the woods I could fight the bear which would be unwise or run away from the bear. There is another way what Noah did. He floated. When the flood came, God’s way was different from man’s way. When Mary was pregnant, God’s way was different from Joseph’s way.
When I think of my life, I say the church changed my life. The pastor’s preaching changed my life. My new friends, you and the folks sitting next to you, you helped me a lot. You ministered to me, encouraged me, loved me. This was not my way. As a proud young man I have my way. God saved me and showed me to sit in a church is powerful. To be humble and listen is powerful. To receive the Spirit of God in fellowship edified my life in another way.
Forty-five years later, someone could look at your life and say, how did you do it? How did you do it? You must be so smart. You must be so capable. You must be so. You and I know honestly you may not believe me but I’ll tell you. I don’t feel like I lived my life. I feel that God has come into our lives and given his Holy Spirit and by his Holy Spirit we bear fruit. That fruit was not fighting or destroying or crushing my opposition or being really good or smart or capable. Nobody can live the kind of life we are talking about without humility. That’s something we don’t have by nature. We gravitate to pride and self-preservation. We think too highly of myself. We care too much about appearance and performance. God became a man and was humble. Really humble. Really humble. Jesus was obedient because he was humble. He didn’t want to do some things. Father, if it’s possible take this cup from me. Maybe that’s the only time he said it’s too much for me. The responsibility level was increasing. He was becoming our high priest and Savior. When he was seven, he had little responsibility and was obedient to his parents, his earthly parents and heavenly Father. He’s learning obedience by things difficult. His life was not easy but he was humble. Same with us. What a good lesson.
I have this amazing story about a slave you all know about Frederick Douglass. He was a slave here in Maryland. He was orphaned. A slave master was maybe his father. He never knew his father. His mother died when he was eight. He was a victim of the slave system in Maryland on the eastern shore. He lived in amazing poverty almost starving to death. He would grab food they fed to animals. The slave owners may have recognized in him leadership quality. They beat him as a way of life. One of the ladies in the plantation taught him and he learned to read when he was 13. He moved to Baltimore when a slave here and met an old man and called him Uncle Lawson. He taught Frederick the Spirit or how to live in God. Frederick was beaten, a slave with nothing and very troubled in his heart and his mind how these people who were slave owners were beating him and empowered tyrants. He felt the embittered spirit growing in him as a young man. Uncle Lawson taught him humility and Douglass discovered and cast his cares on God in a way he was previously unable to do. As a teenager, he came to Christ with the help of Uncle Lawson whose life was one of prayer. He taught Frederick to turn to God. Uncle Lawson became a spiritual father. Enlightened by learning, Frederick’s heart was lit on fire for God and also for the good that he might do for his fellow men.
Under Uncle Lawson, Frederick wrote, “Fan my already intense love of knowledge into a flame by assuring me that I was to be a useful man in the world. At first doubtful that a slave could amount to anything, Frederick he learned from Lawson to trust in God. He did so and found a peace that up to that time in his young life alluded him.”
He ended up going back to the eastern shore and was on the plantation he came from. They decided to break him. They beat him for six months. They wanted to break him because they saw in him some kind of thereat to the system. When you are beaten and hurt, it’s so easy to become proud or be bitter and angry. We understand. This proud also being just humiliated and treated as nothing contradicts our nature. I want to be loved. Who could love me? Who can heal me inside? Who understands my pain? When he was 16 and going through this on the eastern shore and they sent him away to be beaten by a guy who did it as a way of life. He was an evil man. He was tempted to commit suicide and homicide. He thought about this. I can’t handle it. I want to kill myself. I want to kill that man who is beating me. We read in the Scripture that humility is powerful. We must learn this. Our culture won’t teach it to us.
I read a paragraph on this. “The humble person must acknowledge that he is not self-made nor at the center of the universe. Un-blinkered self-knowledge reveals our imperfections. Humility requires we admit when we are wrong and change course. The true power of humility is missed by many successful people today. Why should I become a wimp?”
This is what the successful people say. Why would I become a wimp?
“The hard charging individual wonders believing that humble folks must be shy and retiring never forceful or magnetic. Today’s achievers cannot imagine themselves ever sitting on the sidelines. Humble people they think have poor self-esteem and probably even hate themselves. They’re pushovers, meek, timid, and weak. To become humble in politics, business, or even daily life is to give up on the possibility of impressive achievement.”
But in reality, humility is our strength. Let me tell you why. In politics or business or the NFL football league, these football players are strong motivated guys. But could you be an NFL football player and be humble? What’s the answer? Could you be a business man and be humble? Could you be a slave on the eastern shore that is thinking suicide and homicide and be humble? And believe God can search my heart and gives greater grace to the humble. He is the healer of my soul. He restores me.
He is the lifter of my head in Ps. 3. He is my glory and my shield. He is my wisdom and my inner motivation. He is my righteousness and he is the one who fills me with his Spirit and gives me an understanding of his way. I’m not a pushover because I’m Spirit filled. I’m humble but you can’t walk all over me unless it’s God’s will. If you do, I will love you. I will forgive you. I will give grace to you for that is what our Savior did and lives in you. Wow. There’s a lot in there. I was thinking of Tim Teboe, a football player in the University of Florida. He was the guy that went down like this and prayed glorifying God. When the press learned about it, they started to mock it. He has faced a lot of ridicule. The uncool guy, the Christian that they mock. Who wins in this contest? What the world is saying or is he the winner? Does he win by another scale? He doesn’t play in the NFL and maybe he wasn’t cut out for it. It doesn’t matter when talking about God. If God is with you, he is with you. If God’s hand is in your life, it’s in your life. I don’t make it in Hollywood or politics or the circle in the business world is not interested in being around me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be like Daniel in Persia praying before an open window or Esther in Persia. It doesn’t mean I’m totally a loser. The story of Jesus Christ is this one. That J.C. is humble. He said learn of me. I am meek and lowly. The world is saying meek and lowly? I want the high powered, energetic motivational speaker with the whole thing. Really? When I’m hurting, I need God’s counsel. When I’m empty, I need him to fill me. When I’m suicidal, I need a voice from heaven. When I’m homicidal, I need God to teach me forgiveness and love. I need God. I need a new way. When I’m confused and troubled and depressed, I need God’s visitation. When I’m all alone and nobody knows or understands the deepest part of my spirit or soul, I need God Himself to come to me and speak to me. Jonah, doest thou well to be angry? I need a divine counsel to come to me as a believer in another way. Right? What do you think? It’s true.
Frederick Douglass said an insightful thing in his autobiography. He said, “The victim of the slave system is the slave owner as well. He said slavery gives rise to appetites that eventually devour the slave owner and the system as a whole. The base arrogance gives rise to envy which invites greed or unbridled desire for more and more wealth and ease.”
The kings in Judah in 2 Chronicles had an amazing tendency to pride. Kings in general have such high privileges and build their worlds around them. We find also certain ones humbled themselves.
2 Chron 32 Hezekiah got the news he was going to die. He was very rich, vs. 26. If I got the news from the doctor I was going to die, I would do everything I could before God and humble myself and want to know his will and seek him. Is it time? Are we finished? This is my life. This is up to you. I humble myself before you. If it is possible you could heal me and then heal me. These kind of prayers are not prayers of pride but prayers of submission and humility. But there is also authority, because truth inside produces authority. You are able to say, believe and God says I’ll give you 15 more years. Hezekiah got an extension.
The mystery of his work. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. His ways are not our ways. One man dies and another man lives. One man is proud and another man is humble.
Slavery was a wicked system and a slave that found God, found humility and promoted him. He became a spokesman. When Lincoln was inaugurated, Frederick walked to Washington to hear his second inaugural speech. They wouldn’t let him in because he was a black man. He wanted to see the president and Lincoln invited him to the White House. Frederick Douglass went in. He had met Lincoln before, once or twice. Frederick Douglass said I knew he accepted me. I knew. Because humility knowing Jesus, the Spirit of Jesus if it’s in our hearts you know how I can make you and me comfortable in our space. You are welcome in my space. I honor you as a man, as a woman. Humble people are amazing. They are the greatest thing going in the world. Where do you learn humility in the world we are living in and the culture of arrogance? Arrogance is everywhere, me, myself, and I. it’s filled with people who are not seeking God. When we seek God and that humility of God is part of our life, we have found a great treasure. Augustine wrote about it. He said humility is at the heart of our community, the city of God. There are more things to say about it.
Go now to 2 Chronicles 33:9-10 this is the thing about pride.
They can’t hear. Jeremiah 13:17 our verse for last Wednesday, if they will not hear it my soul shall weep in secret places for their pride. They could not hear it. King Saul couldn’t hear Samuel, David, God, so he went to a witch. Be careful where the pride takes you. It might take you to tarot cards or a witch or a séance. Those places are an abomination to God. They are not part of our faith. We don’t need to pray to Mary. We can pray to God. We don’t need to pray to some saint in heaven. We can pray to God. We have respect for people who have faith, but we want to have faith in the doctrinal position or truth. We have faith in the truth. This man was an evil king. He lived a long time. He was a bad man, really bad. Manasseh was really bad. Adolf Hitler killed his own Jewish people. Manasseh was an evil man. I’d say there is no way he can get saved.
vs 11. Suffering has a way of making us humble. I caught a cold one time and got real humble. I was wind surfing and went into a fog and I’m out on the ocean and I don’t know which direction is which. I’m in a cloud and kneeling on the board praying. I don’t know what is going on with the weather. Didn’t Mark Twain said something about New England weather? If you don’t like it, wait a minute. It changes so much. On my board, I started to pray. I confessed every sin! I confessed sins I would never dream of committing! I confessed everything I could. Suffering can make people humble. Poverty can make people humble and poverty can also make people proud. Suffering can make people proud and hate and be angry with God and the world they live in. It’s no guarantee.
vs. 12. He got real humble and went down and just came before God. When God becomes great in our heart and mind, when is awesome and great, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, we say search me. You know my down sitting and uprising. You care about me. You are God. Thank you God. You know my thoughts afar off….oh God you are Almighty God. We have before Christ at Christmas and we see Christ as a baby at Bethlehem and we realize we are talking about a very, very humble God and we are in a proud world with a lot of privileges and benefits and can think highly of ourselves whether we are rich or poor or a slave who hates his master. That slave finds another way. It’s humility. Instead of hating something, find God and his way and forgive them and love them and pray for them. Love your enemy. Do good to those who harm you and hurt you. This is more than a platitude of Jesus. This is doctrinal instruction regarding wisdom in a world that needs humility. Humility is a way of hearing the wisdom and embracing it.
Chron. 34:27 is the third king we want to refer to, Josiah. vs. 28 just to finish. I don’t know Tim Teboe but I understand the principle. He was the son of missionary parents in the Philippines. He was homeschooled and became a very good football player but behind it is his faith. Is football your God? No, I have God as my God. In my heart, I am humble before God. Do whatever you do, do it with all your might.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do it to the glory of God in Col. 3:23. We have a living God. But the humility is where we get our strength and authority over the vices that destroy and take down the pride. Humility. Blessed are the meek. They shall inherit the earth. He forgets not the cry of the humble. Lord, you hear the desire of the humble. I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, despised…the humble shall see this and be glad…hear me for I am poor and needy. My heart is not haughty and my eyes not lofty; neither do I exercise myself in things too great for me. Many things to say about it. In finishing here, it evades me that I’m brought back to believing this. If I’m hurt in life, maybe that’s good for me to learn humility and the Lord will be the lifter of my head and guide and lead me in my life. Wherever he puts me, if he puts me in a place here, that’s fine.
God puts down one and promotes another in Psalm 75. You find yourself in a place and you need God in that place. When Solomon becomes the king, he goes God, I need you. I don’t need my enemies destroyed. I don’t need more money. I need your mind and spirit and heart and wisdom. If I can find that, I can rule people in a good way. Humility will not be blind. Pride blinds people but humility will enlighten us and help us.
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