- Sermon Notes
The Heart of Humility
Illus. Arm Wrestler
Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” It can be all too easy to let our pride swell, to think highly of ourselves in the wrong ways. Frankly, we live in a world that often expects us to live in pride, to vie in a selfish, earthly way for high status. Self-exaltation is a common philosophy. Yet, the Word teaches us that this is dangerous. We often have to learn this the hard way.
But rather than waiting to be humbled or humiliated, God has given us another option. We can humble ourselves. We can choose to reject pride before it trips us up. This is an important truth that Jesus shared with His followers in the past, and with us now! Be humble, or be humbled. But He also shared another aspect to this principal that defies our intuitions. Be humble and you will be made grand. So, today we will seek to come to a better understanding of the heart of humility.
Read: Luke 14:7-11
Jesus was invited to eat in the house of a leader of the Pharisees, and here He sees what was likely a common scene: people jockeying for position like some corporate business dinner. He took the time to point out some possibly unintuitive but powerful truths. He explained to them that the true path to honor is on of humility. We have the chance to learn and relearn that lesson today. As we study the wisdom of the Living Word, let us have hearts of humility, ready to get the most out of His wisdom!
- Leave Room for Reality
- Jesus saw the guests trying to claim seats of honor for themselves and takes the opportunity to share a paradigm shifting idea: What if you aren’t the most important person in the world?
- More specifically, He tells them not to take the place of honor. Why? Because someone greater, someone more distinguished, may also have been invited.
Illus. Boarding a plane
- It’s uncomfortable to be left looking silly. It can be painful to have a public introduction to reality.
- You see, getting overly confident and inflating your ego is inviting a painful, likely embarrassing, deflation.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled…”
- The fact of the matter is, there will always be someone more distinguished than you in some regard. As important, good, or honorable as one may be, it is wise to accept that there is always someone better, or that soon there could be.
- Instead of being lost in our own small world, based on our immediate perceptions and limited imaginations, we need to leave room for reality.
- Jesus gives us an opportunity to recontextualize ourselves. This is a great gift and a thoughtful practice. We can, in humility, imagine those who would deserve a seat of honor sooner than ourselves. We see the ways in which we still need to grow. Grander still, we can see how much we lack next to someone truly perfect and worthy of honor: Jesus.
- We are given this warning about exalting ourselves to protect us from the consequences of a misaligned reality.
- The pain of being told to move from the seat you chose to a humble seat is a tough way to learn this lesson. It’s like thinking you are going to carve the turkey, but instead you end up at the kids table.
- Ultimately, this is something we need to learn for our own good.
Illus. Super Swimmer Jayme Sanchez
- God wants to protect us from destruction (Proverbs 16:18) so He has given us warnings throughout scripture, opportunities to humble ourselves, and gentler lessons along the way. If we persist in pride, we will eventually face the consequences of our disconnect with reality. We should really find a better way.
- Find the Seat of the Humble
- So, Jesus continues bringing wisdom. He does not only tell them what they shouldn’t do, He also makes sure to fill that void with what they ought to do instead.
- He tells them to “go and recline at the last place”, and in this we find something at the heart of humility.
- We are wise to find the seat of the humble. Rather than inflating ourselves, we need to take a posture of humility.
Illus. The Sublime
Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.
- To recognize how cosmically small we are is a moving and humbling experience, and it allows us to avoid the pain and humiliation that follows arrogance.
- So, how does one humble themself? By meditating on the grandeur of God. By acknowledging how valuable all of His children are to Him. By accepting that every good thing you have or that you are comes from Him. (James 1:17)
- A large part of humility is learning to think about yourself a little (or a lot) less, and think about the Lord more.
- Self-aggrandizing pride often sneaks into our hearts subtly at first. A key entry point is created when we start to place our identity in the gifts, abilities, and attributes God has given us, without clear understanding or recognition about who gave these things and for what purpose.
- The humble heart is keenly aware of the source of their blessings, and actively chooses to live in a way that reflects this surrender.
Illus. Dented Eagle
- We can too easily get our perspective distorted, elevating ourselves, and consequently diminishing everything else. The worst to minimize being God.
- It is so important that we find the humble place in our hearts. Let us grow more and more aware of how grand our God is. Ultimately, let’s give Him the proper position and authority in our lives.
III. Let the Lord Seat You
- Now, humbling ourselves for the sake of avoiding the downfall of pride is wise. And humbling ourselves because we want a right perspective is noble. But Jesus gives us another reason: so that we will be lifted up by God!
Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Gene spoke to this last week, this principle can be wildly unintuitive. Jesus gives us a parable to help us understand.
- When you choose the seat of the humble and lowly, you create opportunity to be called higher. How honorable it is to be called up to a greater place.
- Now, one might want to try and misuse this principle and stumble into something like false humility.
Illus. Fishing for complements
- I don’t think that is what Jesus is encouraging. Sitting at the last place still acknowledges the reality that you are an invited guest –you are at the table– which is its self an honor. You just choose to be unassuming about the degree. False humility is more like pretending you weren’t even invited and standing outside, instead.
- We want to be genuine in our humility.
- In my understanding, the highest form of humility comes when we let the Lord choose our seat.
- In His parable when the host calls you up higher, Jesus doesn’t say to be coy, He doesn’t tell you to insist on staying in the last place. No, we get to respond promptly and joyfully to God’s exaltation! In doing so, you demonstrate great humility, a heart surrendered to the Lord.
Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker —
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?”
- Who are we to argue with the Lord when He ascribes us value? One of the key results at the heart of humility is this: Having an accurate appraisal of where you stand.
- It is tempting to think that humility is always believing you are of little value. It can be easy to constantly tear ourselves down and say that it must be humility.
- Yes, we need to avoid getting too high of an opinion of ourselves, but it is also folly to reject who God says that we are! Is that not a massive show of pride? And Jesus happens to assign us great value!
1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
- Scripture is full of the wonderful things that God proclaims us to be! This is a significant part of Christ exalting us. He takes you from the lowly place, and tells you that you are more than you really ever knew!
- So many of the things we get prideful about are trivial next to the things that God is trying to get us to understand about ourselves.
Illus. Cheap Plastic Trophies
- Yet, they are hard to accept sometimes. Humility put’s the Lord’s perception above our own. The humble heart accepts gladly the grace of the Lord, and sits where it is invited to.
- Humbling ourselves involves letting go of pride in all its forms. We are wise to accept the Lord’s invitation that states that we do have value, and then wait, unassuming, for Him to direct that value. Let Christ be the one to bestow honor on you!
7Now He began telling a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8“Whenever you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9and the one who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then in disgrace you will proceed to occupy the last place. 10But whenever you are invited, go and take the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are dining at the table with you. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”