Tag Archives: Humility

Establishing Value

I had the privilege of preaching again this past Sunday. As I read the words of one of the scripture passages one verse leaped out at me. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

Wow! How relevant! I could easily and accurately apply these words to our societal and political milieu. And that’s tempting. But the reality is Paul wrote these words to a Christian congregation. So while they made have broader application, the primary message is for Christians. That’s sobering – and challenging.

In his letter to the Philippian church Paul went into more detail. He condemned biting and criticism: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) Paul understood that our human tendency is to criticize others to make ourselves feel better and even superior. We do so because we fail to value others. The Bible is very clear on this issue. “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him, speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12)

Then there are Jesus’ pointed words in Matthew 7:1-5 – “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Understanding that humility is not thinking less of ourselves but rather thinking more of others, Paul continued: “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:4) Conflict often results from being insensitive to the needs of others, so Paul says we are to value, to relish consideration of others. We need to scope out and hone in on the needs of others. Our aim is always to zero in on ministering and serving.

Let me ask you something: Could you name the five greatest needs of your spouse? Your children? Your parents? Your coworkers? Your school mate? How considerate are you? Consider how Paul’s words are translated in The Message: “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

OUR PATTERN IS JESUS CHRIST. The great preacher Harry Ironside put it poignantly. “The last word of this section is the keynote—“others.” This was the overpowering, dominating note in the life of our Lord on earth, and because of this He died. “He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for”—others! He lived for others; He died for others. Selfishness He knew not. Unselfish devotion for the good of others summed up His whole life, and all in subjection to the Father’s will. For God, the Father Himself, lives, reverently be it said, for others. He finds His delight, His joy, in lavishing blessing on others. He pours His rain, and sends His sunshine upon the just and the unjust alike. He gave His Son for others; and having not withheld His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?—we, who are included in the others for whom the Lord Jesus Christ endured so much. What wonder then that, if we would follow His steps, we find ourselves called upon to live for others, and even to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1)

What would happen if we really valued others, did unto others as we would have them do unto us? What would our church, our families, our schools, our communities be like if we did to others what Jesus did to us? Just how are we to treat one another? The Bible points the way as it lists a multitude of “One Another’s.” LOVE one another. ACCEPT one another. SERVE one another in love. PRAY FOR one another. ENCOURAGE one another. FORGIVE one another. HONOR one another above yourself. AGREE WITH one another. BE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE TO one another.
BE DEVOTED TO one another in brotherly love. LIVE IN HARMONY WITH one another. BEAR WITH one another in love. CONFESS YOUR SINS TO one another. CARRY one another’s burdens. SUBMIT TO one another out of reverence for Christ. SPUR one another on towards love and good deeds. OFFER HOSPITALITY TO one another without grumbling. CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH HUMILITY TOWARD one another. BE COMPETENT TO INSTRUCT one another. USE YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO SERVE one another. SPEAK TO one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. GREET one another with a holy kiss.

What would our church, our families, our schools, our communities be like if we diligently worked at establishing the value of others? It’s worth thinking about – and doing.

(1) Ironside, H. A. (1922). Notes on the Epistle to the Philippians (pp. 37–38). Loizeaux Brothers: Neptune, NJ.

Note: The substance of this blog comes from Pastor Curry’s sermon “United We Stand.” If interested in a copy or an mp3 contact [email protected]

The Place of Honor

I was intrigued, although not surprised by a news item coming from the Olympics. One of our American athletes was upset that he did not get selected to carry the American flag during the opening ceremonies. He was upset with the selection process. Perhaps he should have been selected. Perhaps the selection process is flawed. I have no way of knowing these things. But I do understand the emotion that prompted his public comments and that is why I was not surprised.

We like to think the Olympics are a time for athletes to represent and honor their countries. But the reality is that for most athletes it’s a time to win and be honored. I’m not saying that’s bad or wrong. Rather my issue is that we all too easily equate honor with winning, with being selected to hold the flag. Honor is equated with being the top dog, the most popular, or the most respected. Honor goes to the one who hangs out with or is seated by people of influence. I understand because I’ve too often been there and believed that.

But is that what honor is all about? Jesus had a different perspective. He, in fact, talked about the banquet table and the seat of honor.

“When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward.” (Luke 14:7-12 New Living Translation)

To the Scribes and Pharisees, who deemed themselves men of honor, Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”(Matthew 23:11-12) Jesus taught his friends and followers the same thing.

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,”Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28)

Not quite the same perspective, is it? The great news is that for Jesus it was not just a perspective. It was also His lifestyle.

As Paul later recorded:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very natureGod,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:3-11)

I’m not sure if Jesus’ view of honor would fit in the Olympics. But I wonder – what if we really lived for the true place of honor? What difference would it make? How would our world be different? Are you ready to take the place of honor?

Olympic Rings: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/13284311374/

Number 1

As a young student at Central College in Pella, Iowa, I worked for the campus radio station. Iowa’s governor, the honorable Harold Hughes, had announced that he was not seeking re-election so that he could run for the United States Senate. When word came that he was making a campaign stop at a restaurant in downtown Pella I was asked to go and get an interview. I was both excited and nervous – a big assignment for a rookie radio guy. On the big day at the appointed hour I entered the restaurant and surveyed the crowd. There was no problem spotting the governor – not only did I recognize him but he was an imposing figure; I couldn’t miss him. I eventually identified myself and asked if I could do an interview. He said he’d be with me shortly. So I sat off to the side and waited.

A few minutes passed as people of much greater stature than me kept going up to him and asking for his time. But all of a sudden I heard him say to those gathered around him, “I promised this young man an interview so I need to give him some time now.” Wow – impressive; a politician and a man of his word. (I guess it’s not always an oxymoron!) At that moment I felt I was #1 and on top of the world – and even more nervous! Then he sat down next to me and immediately made me feel at ease. I turned on my little recorder and began the interview. One of the questions I posed to him had to do with whether nor not he had mixed feelings since he was leaving office after a doing good job and could easily be re-elected. He had made many friends and earned deep respect. Yet he was also venturing into new territory and was already being mentioned as a future Democratic candidate for President. I must confess I can’t remember what he said but I do recall that I was impressed with his thoughtful response. I finished my relatively short interview still #1 and on top of the world.

Immediately after completing the interview he began his public remarks so I turned the recorder back on again. I’ll never forget the gist of his opening remarks – he said something to the effect of “I was just being interviewed by this young man here from Central College, and he asked me a very good and thought-provoking question.” He then opened his brief speech by sharing his reflections on my question! Wow! Now I knew I liked this man! And that’s saying a lot for one who born and bred a Republican! If it was possible to feel higher than #1 and on top of the world, I was feeling it. All I could think of was that when we played highlights of his remarks over the air people would hear his opening references to me (true- since he hadn’t mentioned my name very few would know to whom he was referring; but I would know! And, yes, I confess to a little – make that a lot – of pride!) Needless to say I followed his career with great interest. In many ways, he was #1 in my book.

And while I could share much more about the faith and humility of Harold Hughes, my point right now is he became #1 in my eyes because he made me feel like I was #1. He understood that “If you want to be #1, make someone else #1.” I don’t mean to say that we ought to strive to be #1 so we can lord it over others; that is pride and self-centeredness. It has more to do with earning respect and love from others. We gain respect and love when we show respect and love. We gain the right to be heard when we give the right to be heard. We gain the opportunity to speak about Jesus when we live like Jesus. In the context of what I’m saying, Jesus becomes #1 to people because He makes them feel like they’re #1. Just think about the man by the pool, the woman at the well, Zaccheus, the lepers, the lame, the blind…the list of those Jesus made to feel #1 endless.

So this week, wherever you are and whoever you are with: “If you want to be #1, make someone else #1.” I have a hunch that if you do, Jesus will be the real #1.

Proper Clothes

The “One Another” phrases in the New Testament have really been

Consumers shopping for clothes

on my mind. Perhaps it’s because not a day goes by without headlines of someone demeaning, or seeking to destroy someone else – all to prove superiority. But the Bible offers a stark contrast, even as it tells us how to dress for one another. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

So how do we ‘clothe ourselves with humility?’ We dress up with the clothes of Jesus – we become like Him. It’s what Paul had in mind when in Philippians 2 he painted a picture of what Jesus’ humility looks like. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8).

Peter clarified it even further when he summarized Jesus’ life: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power…he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). We clothe ourselves with humility, we become like Jesus by doing good. The fact is that the New Testament is full of comments about and commendations for doing good.

  • “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.” (Luke 9:36).
  • “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” (Romans 2:7)
  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  • “In everything set them an example by doing what is good…Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good…And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone…Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” (Titus 2:7, 3:1, 3:8, 3:14).
  • “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:12, 15).

We have the power to do good works. God’s nature – Jesus’ nature – is in our spiritual DNA. Paul, in Ephesians 2:10, made it very clear: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” We are God’s workmanship: His work of art, created to do good works. We are to do what we have been created to do – dress up with humility through doing good works towards others. It means to live less for our own selves and more for others – to live a life of selfless service and ceaseless sacrifice. Such clothing may not make the headlines – but it will make a difference. Let’s make every day a Jesus dress up day!

***From my book ‘7 Habits of Highly Healthy People.’