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Mar 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 6, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility . . . Colossians 3:12

Intro: Working our way down this list of virtues we come to humility

When I began thinking about this talk,
– it occurred to me you don’t need this message – look where we are
• this is not the hot spot on Sunday mornings–
◦ the place to be seen – you can’t brag about being here

Yesterday, walking Kona, I spoke with a friend who lives out of the area, and I mentioned that I had to get home to prepare my talk. He said, “I thought you resigned from being a pastor. What’s the name of your church.” So I explained that I am no longer a pastor (at least I do not go by that title) and we do not call ourselves a church. I told him about our small “spiritual community” and this morning he sent me the following text: “This fits you much better than a mega-church.” He knows me well.

• a woman, fairly new to our community, in one of our Zoom meetings,
◦ referred to us as a church, then caught herself
◦ “Oh, that’s not right. I don’t know what to call it; our ‘Cult by the Sea’”
– But, even humble as you are, pride tends to raise its ugly head
• the ego gets wounded – we feel need to defend ourselves
◦ our beliefs, our choices, our political views
• no one is immune
◦ so it’s probably worth our while to discuss humility

If you think about it, humility is vital for “intimacy” (our previous series)

In fact, this is true of all the virtues
– Psalm 133 begins,
Behold how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!

• the first image it uses to describe unity is this:
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes (Ps. 133:1-2)
• oil had many uses in biblical times: cosmetic (skin and hair), healing, and the sacred anointing
◦ but I have something else in mind other than “essential oils”
– we have to put oil into our car engines
• to keep all the moving parts running smoothly
◦ that’s because oil reduces friction
• oil change is necessary, because it collects sludge from the engine that could wear it down
– in every close relationship, humility works like (motor) oil
• it keeps interactions running smoothly, it reduces friction, and it carries away guck
• also, there are different oils for different types of machines
◦ sewing machine requires oil with less viscosity than car engines
◦ and likewise there are degrees of humility given the situation

We can see here how Paul’s metaphor breaks down

His put off and put off – like changing out of our old clothes into new clothes
– we would not say, “Put on humility,” as if we were putting on a T-shirt
• Paul isn’t saying it’s okay to be conceited or arrogant,
◦ as long as you act humble once in awhile
• it is only an act, if I’m doing something humble, while thinking, “I’m better than this”
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself [or herself] more highly than [they] ought to think, but think with sober judgment , each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Ro. 12:3)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Php. 2:3-4)
– and while we’re here in Philippians, I might as well point out:
• every lesson we can learn re: humility, we learn from Jesus
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but 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 (Php. 2:5-8)
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly [humble] in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt. 11:29)

I’m sure you could help me further develop this next point

What humility is not:
– “toxic shame”: to be ashamed of your “self” as opposed to feeling shame over an action
• I do this when I degrade myself with name-calling, “I’m stupid,” “a loser,” “hopeless”
• being obsessed with guilt, is not humility
humiliation: when you feel you’ve been reduced to nothingness
• treated like a non-person
• in scripture, it is what an enemy will do to a person
◦ or it is a punishment God inflicts on the arrogant
◦ later on, self-humiliation became the excessive ascetic practice of some monks
Paul warns the Colossians away from this:
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism–i.e., an exaggerated humbleness
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Col. 2:18 and 23)
low self esteem or self-loathing
• if you hate yourself, you can’t think that means you’re humble
• it means you need to see a therapist
worm theology: the belief that in comparison to God’s majesty, we have no more dignity than worms
• we are made in image and likeness of God
◦ that is not small, it is not nothing
◦ more than once, Jesus emphasized your worth to God
We have misunderstood the virtue of humility
– we either under value it or overdo it

There will never be a “humility contest,”
– no award given to the most humble person
• Paul does hint at a competition in his letter to the Romans
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Ro. 12:10)
– I know that I tend to take myself too seriously
• I also know I sometimes fail to take others seriously enough
• in the social structure of the kingdom of God,
◦ there is no one below me
. . . the disciples came to Jesus, saying “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:1-4)
◦ on another occasion
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:42-45)

Now we can begin to think about what humility looks like

Olivier Clement, “Humility should be practical and realistic.”
– humility is made real through voluntary service
For you were called to freedom . . . . Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
– humility is what makes it possible for us to apologize
– humility is what makes it possible for us to let go of an insult
Clement, “Humility makes forgiveness possible . . . .”
– humility is what pleases God
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6)
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 57:15)
Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me . . .?
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isa. 66:1-2)
– I didn’t know what to make of Olivier Clement’s statement, “The mixture of sin and humility is worth more than the mixture of virtue and pride.”
• but then he quoted John Chrysostom (a fourth century preacher)
Chrysostom, “. . . remember the Pharisee and the [tax collector] . . . One relied on his own righteousness, on his own fasting and the tithes that he paid. The other needed to say only a few words to be free of all his sins.” (see Luke 18:9-14)
– humility is the necessary prerequisite for becoming a disciple
Arthur Deikman, Humility “is the attitude required for learning.” “Humility is the acceptance of the possibility that someone else can teach you something you do not already know, especially about yourself. Conversely, pride and arrogance close the doors of the mind.”

Conclusion: I don’t have much advice regarding how to become humble

One thing I can suggest is the consistent practice of confession
– pray the tax collector’s prayer, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
You are not a worm – but neither are you an angel
You’re a human – so is everyone you know
We can confess our limitations and inadequacies – I can say:
“I don’t know about many things. I don’t know how to be humble”
If we do this, then Jesus will gladly teach us
Then we discover that by stepping down, we are carried up

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