Humility: Not What You Might Think
Sermon Summary
This message delves into one of the most misunderstood Christian Character Traits: humility. Humility is rightfully equated with meekness, but meekness is wrongfully equated with weakness. This message explores the complexities of humility, what it is and what it is not! Jesus displayed humility in His life and yet He was a man of great wisdom and strength! A true disciple of Christ, has come to the humbling experience of realizing he or she is a sinner in need of a Savior. A true disciple knows the price that was paid by Jesus on the Cross in order to provide salvation. A true disciple knows their strength is found in Christ and not themselves. The humility to trust and follow Jesus replaces arrogant and selfish pride. Humility is a basic Christian Character Trait!

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Do you think humility is a celebrated character trait in our modern world? Why or why not? Should it be?

2. The first couple of verses of Philippians 2 give a list of reasons we should desire to be like Jesus in our character. Read these verses and discuss the reasons you find. (Philippians 2:1-2)   1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2

3. Are humility and meekness really traits of weakness or are they signs of true strength? Discuss your answer. Paul’s personal experience may aid this discussion.. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

4. Pride in ones work, or loving pride in your children is not a bad thing. However, arrogant self-pride is the opposite of Christ-like humility and can cause a person to stumble in many areas of life. What are some of the reasons to avoid this kind of pride? (Psalm 10:4-7)  4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” 7His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. Psalm 10:4-7

Sermon Notes

Humility: Not What You Might Think
Philippians 2:1-11

Last week we talked about the foundational Christian Character Trait of Love. When a person begins to understand the love of God in Christ Jesus which was shown to us on the Cross of Calvary, our next Christian trait, Humility, will naturally become a part of that person's personality.  Why?  I'll answer the question with a question...How could anyone see the Lamb of God, the Perfect One, the Holy One, the One who is the Love of God, hanging on a tree for their sins, how could they not be humbled by this sight?

Our text for today comes from Paul's letter to the Philippian Church. Philippians 2:1-11.
If you have your Bibles with you, get them out and turn to this passage. It's in the New Testament towards the back of our Bible. It may sound familiar to you because we ended our message last week with  a portion of this text! Let's pray and ask our Good Lord to be present with us in powerful ways today.
PRAY

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2

Let's stop right here for a moment. Do you realize Paul is saying if you have received Christ Jesus as your Savior and have accepted all the benefits thereof, you should desire to become like Jesus in every aspect of your Character! Let's look at that first verse again and hang out there for a minute...

Phil 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

Have you been encouraged by being united with Christ? Encouraged by the fact that being united with Christ comes with amazing benefits. His presence, His power, His forgiveness, His provision, His everything!!! Have you been comforted by His love when the world had devastated you? Have you ever fellowshipped with The Holy Spirit of God as He led you through a difficult time? Did the tenderness and compassion of Jesus touch you when you admitted your sin and cried out for His forgiveness?

 If you can answer yes to any of the above Paul says….

Phil 2:2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

 I love this!! Paul says, "Be like minded!" In other words, think like Jesus!!! Paul says, "Having the same love!" In other words, love like Jesus!!! Paul says, "Being one in spirit and purpose!" In other words, walk in the Spirit like Jesus and do things on purpose like Jesus!! "Okay, how in the world can I think like Jesus, love like Jesus, walk in the Spirit like Jesus and do things with the same purpose as Jesus?" Paul just happens to tell us!!!

I hope you're ready for this because it's radical! It confuses and confounds the world! At first glance it will not make sense. But it's truth and it will absolutely work!! Verse 3 begins Paul's answer...

Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Such powerful words!! And did you know where Paul was when he wrote these words? Prison! I'm just not really sure I could have such a Christlike attitude if I were thrown into prision for my faith! Could you? Well, here's the secret, Paul was no longer all about Paul! Paul was no longer the prideful, arrogant, religious zealot he once had been. His world had been turned upside down by a personal meeting with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

Paul had come into contact with a power and a force which left him temporarily blinded, yet in a spiritual sense, left him with clearer vision than he had ever had! He was humbled by this new relationship and at the same time emboldened. God began to show Paul amazing things and to teach him a new way of life! And what could have happened? He could have simply developed a new religious pride, you know, traded in the Jewish pride for Christian pride!

But he didn't. Something was different...Listen to how he put it in his letter to the Corinthian Church. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but that's not important. Now we begin to see his secret. The secret of his strength. Paul humbled himself before Christ and depended upon Him for everything! That's why Paul could write such a powerful word even though he was in prison. Selfish, arrogant pride no longer ruled Paul's life. He had seen something in Jesus he admired. That's why he told the Philippian church...

Phil 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Remember last week, when we talked about Jesus becoming like a servant and washing the disciples feet. Paul had heard the stories. Paul now understood why Jesus did what He did! Why Jesus humbled Himself to wash the feet of those He loved! Why Jesus laid down His life for those He loved! Paul now understood how selfless humility and not selfish pride is the only way to build a loving relationship. A loving relationship with God and a loving relationship with another human being.

It's hard to trust someone who is prideful because you never know if they  are doing something because of their love for you or if they are doing something only because it's good for them. And if it's not good for them to love you anymore then you may get tossed by the wayside! However, a person who has humility puts others ahead of themselves and would rather suffer than to see those they love suffer.

Some people think humility is a sign of weakness. "Meekness is weakness," they say. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact Jesus made this very bold statement in His sermon on the mount...

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Wonder why the meek will inherit the earth? Let me share with you what I believe on this. Those who are meek, and humble themselves before the Lord, ultimately rely on God's strength and power rather than their own and this has tremendous effect on the outcome of their circumstances. Here's how the Psalmist put it…


Psalm 18:27-35 (NIV)

27You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
28You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
29With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall.
30As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
31For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
32It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
33He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
34He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.

By the way, let me share with you the definition of meekness...

Meekness: Quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive

A meek person is quiet! He or she doesn't always have to get in the last word. They don't always have to broadcast their opinion, or tell it like it is, they simply and quietly live out their beliefs. Oh, they'll speak when they need to, but they don't don't have to scream, because their character speaks for itself!! A meek person is also gentle. They don't have to be rough to be tough! They have learned they can accomplish so much more if they are gentle and kind.

Now some of you might have a problem with the third part of the definition of meekness: easily imposed on. A person who is meek is easily imposed on because they have placed themselves behind others. They have placed the needs of others before their own needs. Now don't get me wrong! I didn't say the meek person allows others to walk on them and they have no boundaries. I'm not saying that.

Sometimes a meek person, if they find that someone who is prideful and selfish is attempting to take advantage of their kindness for the wrong reasons, can become tough and quiet strong in their resolve to make it clear they will not be abused. Furthermore, God defends those who have been willing to humble themselves and with meekness, serve others. So remember that when you go to mess with a meek and humble person. You may be messing with God Himself!

Oh yeah, the definition of meekness also includes submissive.
A person who is humble and meek understand the need to be submissive to God and His plan for our lives. Why, because a meek  person realizes God's plan is always the best plan and they are willing to humbly submit to that plan. This all has to do with the Christian Character Trait of humility!

Let me share with you the definition of humility.

Humility: A modest or low view of ones on importance!

Now this is a dictionary definition, not the Bible's definition, but it still has truth.  A person with humility does not over estimate their personal importance in the grand scheme of things. In other words they don't think the universe revolves around them or that the world would stop turning if something happened to them. A prideful person, on the other hand acts as if they are the center of the universe and the world couldn't function without them.
Listen again to verses 5-7 of our text in Philippians 2

Phil 2:5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Even though Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, God in the Flesh, He had the very essence of humility! He took on human flesh. Why? Because He cared so much for humans He became like one of us so He could understand our existence and our troubles and our feelings.

And ultimately so He could die for our sins. So here's a very important piece of information. If we are not willing to humble ourselves and accept what Jesus did for us on the Cross, our selfish pride will prevent us from experiencing the forgiveness, salvation and peace of mind that can only come from Jesus Christ.  Some folks who feel things are so bad they can't take anymore, because of pride, refuse to let Jesus help them. But Jesus still offers. Listen to Matthew 11:28-30.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus doesn't want to burden you down, He wants to set you free and lift you up! He's not angry at you or wanting to lord it over you in a mean spirited kind of way, He wants to be your Lord so He can strengthen you and empower you to be all He created you to be. In order for this to happen you must humble yourself and let God begin to change you. Humility is recognizing you're not God and you'll never be! In fact, why would you even want to be?

I personally don't want that kind of responsibility!! If you're lord of your own life then the responsibility of everything falls on you. Wanna be the boss? Then get ready to deal with everything that comes along with that title. Do you really feel confident in your own abilities to control life's circumstances, the future, eternity?
However, some people's pride causes them to refuse the offer from Christ Jesus. It's sad, but pride keeps more people out of heaven than any other sin I know of.

Psalm 10:4-7
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies.
6He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”
7His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

I pray there's no one in this room that has gotten to the place where they have that kind of pride, but if you find yourself in that place, I have good news for you today. If you are willing to humble yourself before the Lord, and admit you've been wrong, He will forgive you and begin to work in your life in ways which will astound and amaze you! By the way, I'm going to let you in on a little secret! Some people never humble themselves before God.

Some people wait until the circumstances of life humble them, but God is so merciful that He ask us to humble ourselves. It's much eaier that way. Some people pray for God to humble them, but God's Word tells us twice we are to humble ourselves. In the book of James and in the book of 1 Peter...

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

The last point of our message today is one we would be absolutely negligent if we didn't take some time to understand.  If Humility had not been a character trait in Jesus Christ, you and I would be without hope forever! That's right! If not for the humility of Christ our Salvation would be impossible!
Let's read the rest of our text…
Philippians 2:8-11
2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Folks if Jesus hadn't been a humble man He would have never left heaven to come to earth! Had He not been a humble man, even if He had left heaven to come to earth it would not have been to save us, it would have been to show a sinful and ungrateful humanity just how powerful His judgement could be. However, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. It wasn't a simple, quick, painless death. It was a long, drawn out, torturous death!

Instead of judging us, He took our judgement! Instead of condemning us He became a condemned man. Instead of using His power to punish us, He used His power to forgive us!

Here's my question for each of us today…How can we live in prideful arrogance knowing if it hadn't been for the humility of Christ we wouldn't have a prayer!!

How can we live in arrogant pride, knowing we are but sinners saved by grace? How can we think we're better than even the worst of sinners, when we know it is not by our righteousness or any good thing we've done, but by the precious Blood of Christ that we stand clean before God?
Let me be quick to tell you what I'm not saying when I talk about the Christian Character Trait of humility. I'm not taking about self-hatred, self-despising, or self-rejection!

I'm talking about humbling your self under God's mighty hand that He might lift you up in due time. I'm talking about letting the Holy Spirit help you control self so it does not become prideful, selfish, and self-destructive. When self is submitted in humility to the loving authority of Jesus Christ, God is glorified and the Character of Jesus is personified in our words and deeds!
Self-hatred has no place in a Christian's life because if you hate yourself, you're hating something God loves!

Jesus didn't die for worthless human beings. There are no worthless human beings. There are sinful, wicked, lost, prideful, arrogant, mean human beings, but even the worst of humans have worth. They were created by God to be so much more, but they allowed foolish pride to cause them to reject God and His plans for their lives.

Remember what I've said over and over, "I'm no better than any other human being on this planet because I'm a Christ follower, but I am better off! So much better off and it is my desire to tell as many as I can that God loves them ever bit as much as He loves me!

I just love the way Paul put in his letter to Titus.

Titus 3:1-7
3:1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Let's pray!