Before going on to look at Jesus’ teaching to us about the importance of humility, we must take one more look at Jesus – our perfect example.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 14:11). “I am among you as the one who serves” (22:27). Jesus always personified His own teaching. I put these two Scriptures together because Jesus was the first to exemplify the principles He taught. Paul describes this humble character in Jesus and writes, He “emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8).
Whether it was the prerogatives or the status of His position, He willing set them aside in humility to accomplish the greatest task in all of the universe and in all of time. The question for you and me is-- will we take the initiative in humility so we can accomplish God’s task that he has assigned us for our short time on earth?
With confidence Jesus said to His Father in prayer, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). This work was accomplished through humility. How will you finish your work for God?
Mt. 11:28-30 is the invitation Jesus gives to us to come and find “rest” in His gentle and lowly presence. There is no other place to find “rest”; the kind that our weary souls desperately need. In the western world, we spend billions of dollars on vacations hoping to ‘get away’ from the busyness of life and the circumstances that crush our spirits and weary our bodies. This is a sad mistake. We bypass a PERSON who is “REST” BECAUSE HE IS “GENTLE AND LOWLY”.
This concept is totally antithetical to the way our world thinks and the way most Christians think. Christians are off to one conference after another hoping to fill a deep need or resolve a persistent problem, only to experience an artificial ‘high’ and then plummet down to a lower level of disappointment than before. So they chase another conference or training or book.
God has never changed His method of resolving the deep needs of the human heart. It is His Son. Though Jesus was and always will be the Creator, King of kings and Lord of lords, He attracts us with the beauty of His character. His invitation is, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
As Andrew Murray points out, Jesus offers Himself as a “Teacher” in these verses; one from whom we learn the kind of character in Himself that produces “rest”. If we come to Jesus, He will teach us through His character to be “gentle or mild” and “lowly, humble and unpretentious”, and through that, we will find rest. More and more intimacy with Jesus means that we will learn how to develop His character in us. Lowliness and humility will be lesson #1.
It is not necessary for me to comment on the following references, but I request that you ask the Holy Spirit to use them to bring deep conviction in your heart about how the humility of Jesus is being reflected in your life.
““Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).
““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).
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
“I have not come of my own accord” (John 7:28).
“I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John 8:28).
“I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (John 8:42).
“Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and He is the judge” (John 8:50).
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10).
“And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:24).
“But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28; also Mark 10:45).
This begins our reflection of the humility in Jesus. It is hard for our minds to grasp the idea that Jesus, the Creator was there in the beginning with the Father and the Spirit; all three in perfect unity creating a universe in which to place one special being, made in their image and likeness. No sooner did this special creation begin to enjoy unstained fellowship with God, than man allowed deception to break that fellowship. Why didn’t God deal with Satan right then and reverse the evil that interrupted such fellowship? He did!
He did, but not the way or time we would have planned it. God chose the way to deal with sin and evil through coming into our condition through His Son, Jesus Christ. This way did not mimic man’s military method of conquering an enemy through brute force, but through another method-- humility. There had to be a complete, unmistakable contrast between the independent, self-willed and disobedient heart of Satan and man. It came in the total dependent, obedient and humble life of Jesus. The very way He came into the world as a lowly babe “wrapped…in swaddling clothes and laid…in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Was this really the way for the Creator, Author of life, King of kings and Lord of lords to enter His creation? YES!
Follow with us and see in the following blogs that this method had a perfect design drawn out in past eternity. It will affect you personally, your marriage, your family, your work and church. It will transform your testimony and power in ministry. Stay with me!
Through my time of recovery from surgery, the Holy Spirit has impressed on my heart how little I really know about humility. He reminded me of the analogy Jesus gave in John 7 of the Spirit “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37–39).
Consider that rain which through God’s goodness falls on high peaked mountains is the same water that flows down the mountain slopes, canyons and forest lined rivers until it reaches the lowest valleys. So it is with those who are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18). The Spirit will lead us from the peaks of our pride, down, down, and down until there is nothing left of ‘me’ and what remains is Christ who lives in me” (2:20).
Please stay with me as I take us on a journey to discover the humility of Jesus. There was never a person who taught and lived humility like Jesus. This is one of the core virtues the church has missed. Without humility, we will make no progress in our maturity or in fulfilling our purpose.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
This verse should alert us, causing us to stop and examine the context of Jesus’ exhortation and teaching. The disciples were clearly out of step with their Rabbi (teacher). They had gone into town to buy supplies so their journey could continue. When they returned to where Jesus was waiting for them, they “marveled that He was talking with a woman” (4:27), but said nothing. Then they offered Jesus some food, perhaps to derail any touchy subjects about talking with “foreigners” and especially a woman.
Jesus is not going to be derailed from the very purpose of being sent from the Father. I wonder sometimes how much time we waste in focusing on organizational development, methodology, and financial concerns rather than seeing our mission and call through the eyes of Jesus? The current thinking was there were “four months, then comes the harvest”. Is there really time to waste when Jesus proclaims the harvest time is NOW? Jesus and the Apostles were about doing the Father’s work with the simple methods they received through the Holy Spirit. His strategy is the only one that fulfills the commission to reach every people group with the gospel.
As Tim and Randy head out this coming week to S. E. Asia, please be praying for the Holy Spirit to ignite a work in those they train, so these countries and their unreached people groups are reached with the power of Christ in the gospel.
This is a list of each country and the number of People Groups (PG) and those still unreached (UPG). The percentage should cause the church to REPENT and realize much time we have wasted.
Thailand: PG 115 - UPG 82 (71%)
Cambodia: PG 42 - UPG 30 (71%)
Laos: PG 135 - UPG 113 (84%)
Vietnam: PG 118 - UPG 69 (59%)
Myanmar: PG 152 - UPG 49 (32%)
There is a story in Luke 17:11-19 that has teaching elements in it that apply in every generation and every people group. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and passes through Samaria and Galilee. In a certain village He is met by ten lepers who cry to Him for mercy. Whether they were Samaritans or Galileans we are not told, except that one is called a “foreigner and Samaritan” by Jesus. Their request for “mercy” was something that no one else could give them except Jesus, and that was healing from a dreaded disease.
“Mercy” is given to someone who is unable to provide the giver any reason for giving it. It is strictly from the character, goodness, and desire of the giver to benefit the one who receives it, irrespective of the standing of the person receiving it.
What would be your response to someone who totally changed your life? Or should I say, saved your life from a terminal disease for which there is no cure?
In this case, their healing began with obedience. “When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.” (17:14). I could go into more detail on why obedience was so important as it relates to faith, but let me get to my point. “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” (17:15–16). Jesus immediately questions him on his return about the other nine who were also healed. Why didn’t they return also and give thanks to the Giver of such an amazing gift.
Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas, there is a lot of receiving done by most of us. The point and question I have, is whether we place more emphasis on the gift or the Giver? The difference tells others WHO YOU VALUE, not what. HOW you thank them also says what value you place in them. Is your life a continual act of humble “falling on [your] face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks”?
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1).
The last few days have given me plenty of time for reflection and prayer. While a few days ago, I had reason for tears because of the pain in my body, today, I have tears from reflection on the goodness of the Lord!
I was speaking this afternoon with a pastor whose youngest daughter has myasthenia gravis, a degenerating disease that has no proven cure. It makes going through a third back surgery and hernia complications seem so small. Often we fail to remain in a spirit of thanksgiving because we never compare ourselves with what others are going through. But more than that, STOP and CONSIDER the mercy of God toward us! “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills…in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--” (Romans 9:19, 23).
Like so many in America and around the world, tomorrow will be spent in eating too much food and too little thanksgiving. Not only is David very intentional about giving praise to the Lord for all His “wonderful deeds”, he would not do it casually. As you spend the day with family and others, take a moment to examine your heart; no not part of it, but your whole heart. Is it an offering of praise and thanksgiving to God for all the wonderful things he has done in your life?
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13).
Have you considered that the authority of the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son who sent Him? As you read the Book of Acts, it is evident that the Early Church was being directed by the Spirit and they were submitting to His voice of authority. The messages given by Peter, John, Stephen, Barnabas and Paul were all under His power and authority. The church obeyed the voice of the Spirit (13:2-3). Individuals were directed by the Spirit where to go and where not to go (8:29; 16:6-10).
Obedience to the Spirit expanded the gospel, strengthened the church, and brought public wonder to what God was doing. There was a powerful movement of God that could not be stopped because the authority of God through the Holy Spirit was recognized, received and obeyed. This should cause us to STOP and REPENT AND RETURN to God’s original ways at the beginning of the church.
I have been rightly accused of “selective hearing”. It really comes down to what we consider important enough that we listen carefully to what is being said by others.
Jesus ends each of His seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 with, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” The inference is that some in the church do not have spiritual ears and therefore cannot hear. Then there is another group that have ears, but they selectively shut out what they do not want to hear. Hebrews says that some “have become dull of hearing” which stunted their spiritual growth and hindered maturity (5:11).
Just before Paul faced execution, he reminded some of the prophetic word through Isaiah, “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’” (Acts 28:26–27).
These two references show that the church has become much like the world. The world will not hear and neither will the church listen to its Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. That seems like a very harsh statement. Consider the spiritually deaf church of Laodicea. Their spiritual condition was so bad that Jesus said to them, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16).
Do we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church today? He is saying the same thing He has always said because He is the “Spirit of truth”, but our “selective hearing” would rather listen to other voices. This has serious consequences!
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