14 February 2011

True Joy is Found in a Life of Humility

Phil 2:1-11

What does humility look like? I can tell you what it isn't. It’s not looking for the limelight, it’s not making oneself known among a group of people, it’s not seeking the praises and acknowledgement when they do something, it doesn’t want to be the center of attention for everything, it’s not being as Brian Regan the comedian says “a me monster...it’s all about me”. See! Humility is a freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; Jesus Christ brings humility into your life? I like how Gary Inrig explains humility “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and realize the assumness of who he is, and I accept God's estimate of myself, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility.” Andrew Murray the great puritan preacher said “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.” Paul comes to a pivotal part of his letter because he is about to tell us how:

• We can walk in unity
• We work as a team
• We can stand fast in a broken world
• We walk worthy of the Gospel
• We can magnify Christ in our lives
• We can realize that whether by death or life Christ is my ultimate joy each and every day!

It begins here in the opening verses of chapter 2 (READ THE TEXT v1-v5) See the world at large views humility a sign of weakness! The world considers Humility something to be laughed at or something to be ashamed of. The world doesn’t consider Humility worthy to teach our children. ( instead we should stand up for yourself and fight back). The world considers Humility something to mock or make fun of. But that’s not true by what we read here in this letter! How does a child of the living God walk in humility? Paul starts by saying in (v3) “let nothing be done through selfishness” Selfishness means......regarding one's own interest chiefly or solely; influenced in actions by a view to private advantage. It expresses a negative command; selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. Why is selfishness a problem! becuase we are naturally selfish by nature (our sin nature) Paul told Timothy and the church leaders in 2Tim 3:1-2 “..... that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” What we want is usually a major stumbling block, or problem to walking in humility. Selfishness doesn't care about anyone else other then themselves! Paul also goes on to express another problem that usually follows a selfish person! He says "empty conceit" which means......empty glorying, that is, self-importance, vainglory, and self regard, empty or arrogant pride. Paul was warning them not to have pride and vain glory attitudes.....that me first everyone else second......For example! The house is burning down “every man, woman and child defend for themselves.” The reason Paul mentions this, because this behaviour easily injures or destroys the comfort and harmony of the saints..........which in the end leads to an unhealthy Church! It’s you seeking the glory over God and stepping on anyone who gets in your way. The Lord spoke of a church that lived this way.......and they are not comforming words by any stretch of the imagination. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Rev 3:15-17. Paul say when we are behaving in this manner we are in danger of falling onto dangerous ground! One thing I do like is how Paul structures his letter by the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit! He starts off with the nasty....distasteful remarks first and then he comes in with something that edifies the saints. It’s like asking someone.....”Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Answer is usually the bad news first then the good! Now! Paul turns to the characteristics of what humility truly looks like which is the complete opposite of what Paul wrote in the previous verse. Humility of Mind which the very opposite of selfish ambition and empty conceit. It means “a lowliness of mind, gentleness”. Humility was also a dominant virtue or passion in the Old testament saints! A passion that the Lord desired for everyone who followed his commands.

A. Moses was a humble man (Num 12:3) “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
B. David also wrote about being humble (Ps 37:11) “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
C. Solomon, David’s son wrote about the importance of Humility (Prov 11:2) “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
D. James the Half Brother of the Lord Jesus Christ wrote “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

Paul then goes on to say by building up his last statement!.......Esteem others “Don’t merely look out for your own personal interests but look out for the interest of others” which means “to observe, to give close attention and special consideration”. See we must always be careful! Because personal interest can be very destructive to a church: It causes disharmony and dysfunction, it causes disunity and mistrust, it causes heart breaking results among fellow believers. We are not to do that!! Plain and simple. We are to look at what Paul writes here! "The interest of others" which means “to take notice of others; to acknowledge them which is the way to submit to one another in the fear of God, and to promote truth, friendship, and love among the church body.” See Paul knew this all to well! He wrote to the church of Corinth “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor 12:26. If one member of this church is suffering or hurting, we all suffer and hurt with him or her. Remember that....there is no I in team! Paul says all this, so that we are without excuse or the ‘but’ rebuttal statement.....there is no room for our excuses when it comes to the matter of humility especially in the Christian life or the local church for that matters. Paul makes a statement which really humble us instantly as we read his letter to this church (v5-v8). This is a profound and very important portion of biblical truth.......which is the glue to everything when it comes to the matter of humility. (v5-v11). Jesus Christ the God man came to this earth to display the love of the Godhead to their creation as a humble servant! Form refers to “the outward manifestation (exhibit, display) of an inner reality.” The idea is that before the Incarnation, from eternity past, Jesus pre-existed in the Divine Form of God..........Jesus Christ is, always has been, equal with God the Father in every way. How did He do this? By coming in the likeness of man to die for our wickedness as a man of no reputation! God in all His Glory came to this earth to display to humanity............His sovereign love for His creation. Jesus came in the likeness of man................Jesus came here as a man of no reputation! This word reputation  is clearly translated “emptied Himself” Christ Jesus who created and owned everything “forsook everything for the sake of the cross”

1. Emptied Himself of His divine Glory......“When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You,” John 17:1

2. Emptied Himself of independent divine authority......."I can do nothing on My own. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30

3. Emptied Himself of the voluntary exercise of some of His attributes.........(Matt 24:35-36) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

4. Emptied Himself of His eternal riches.......“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:28

5. Emptied Himself temporarily of His intimate and face to face relationship with His Heavenly Father.......“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matt 27:46

We as Christians cannot empty ourselves like our Lord did, but Believers are obligated (bound, indebted) to Him! To follow the Lord’s example of true humility, emptying ourselves of anything that would steal our joy found in Him. Anything that would hinder our obedience and service to Him with humility of joy. Jesus Christ! God in human flesh............Humbled Himself even to Death (v8) Christ our Lord suffered the worst punishment that anyone could ever endure! NO! CREATED PERSON, COULD WITHSTAND WHAT OUR LORD WENT THROUGH AND NOT SIN IN THERE HEART “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Heb 4:15. But we read on in the following verses we see the ultimate end to Jesus’ great act of humility. Though we will never receive that honor but our citizenship is with the very one who humbled himself on our behalf. All He asks of us is to seek the interest of others first... a genuine care or concern about people....take the gospel to the world with humility and love for one another. (v9) says something that has great truth about who jesus is! Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, Lord which means “the title of majesty, authority, honor, and sovereignty.” The Hebrew word for Lord is “Adonia”.......this Hebrew name “Adonia” does not just mean Lord or God; it speaks of a deeper and more personal response. What it‘s literally means is “my Lord” or “my God”. Mary used these words of Jesus in the garden on Easter morning (John 20:14-17). Thomas said “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28).....Even the demons understood His authority as Lord (Luke 4:34) “Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!" That name Lord carries some serious weight and consequences for all of us (v10-v11)Everyone will bow down and call Him Lord.....Whether Living or in Heaven or in Hell. Every person shall acknowledge Him as God and admit His right to Universal Authority! Every single person on this earth will see Him as Thomas saw Him, as Mary, and even as the demons saw Him. But you will bow down before His Throne! I remember listening to preacher say “I have good news and bad news. The good news is God is here! The bad news is God is here!" Do you find that sobering this morning? Does this portion of scripture humble you this morning? If not.....then I fear for you!! Because the ultimate question we need to ask yourself! Will it be in love and adoration as you fall gratefully before the One who loved you and died for you? Or will it be by compulsion as you are forced to your knees by the angel moments before you are removed from His presence forever to spend eternity in Hell? If you are a Christian! We must humble ourselves like our Lord did on our behalf! We must display this same kind of humility to the whole world... True joy is found a life that seeks the interest of others! Why? Because this is the mind of God in you..........SDG

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