#687. HUMILITY (10/11/22)
This week’s devotionals are based upon our ’New Ground Sunday’ and our recent Leadership Conference. Both of these events are focused on encouraging churches and leaders in the New Ground family of churches but I trust that anyone will find these devotionals helpful.
Summary: Humility is confidence properly placed. Humility is revealed in the way that we pray and serve.
What is humility? I think that most of us know that its important but I think we may find it hard to describe. Humility is meekness. Again, we know that meekness is important but what is it exactly? Here are two texts that speak of its importance:
‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ (James 4:6)
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5:5)
‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29)
God loves meekness and humility. It attracts His ‘favour’. Such people ‘inherit the earth’. If we learn this demeanour from Christ we will ‘find rest for our souls’. So you can see that it’s important and, therefore, it’s vital that we understand what this is.
WHAT IS HUMILITY?
The Dunning-Kruger effect can be summarised: ‘People with limited knowledge or competence in a specific area largely overestimate their knowledge and competence’. For example, an amateur chess player overestimating their ability in the upcoming tournament compared to their more experienced counterparts. This effect is seen in great confidence in skill and knowledge in areas in which one has very little understanding. Bill Stenberg puts it:
‘The more I know, the more I know how little I know. The less you know, the more you think you know.’
The more you know of God, the more you realise how little you know. The more you learn about yourself, the less confident we are in ourselves. Biblical humility is having a sober assessment of oneself in light of who God is. The meek walk in the fear of the Lord. Somebody once said:
‘Humility is confidence properly placed’.
Meekness is not weakness; it’s the refusal of self-confidence and the embracing of faith, which trusts in God alone. I like to summarise it:
‘Meekness is God-confident’.
Gordon Fee describes it:
"Humility is thus not to be confused with false modesty, or with that kind of abject servility that only repulses, wherein the 'humble one' by obsequiousness gains more self-serving attention than he or she could do otherwise. Rather, it has to do with a proper estimation of oneself, the stance of the creature before the Creator, utterly dependent and trusting."
HUMILITY IS EXPRESSED IN PRAYER
Humility is seen in many ways but devotion to prayer is surely one of the most critical attributes of the humble. Jesus, our model for humility, was devoted to prayer. Jesus - the creator God - had the humility to pray to the Father, how much more should we! What does this say about us if we fail to pray?
‘One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ Luke 11:1-4)
Jesus modeled humility in the way that He prayed. Jesus, when on the earth, had chosen to submit all of His divine attributes to the will of the Father. He did nothing apart from the Father’s will. He was a true human being with all of our limitations. He was God the Son and yet He chose to pray in order to be led and empowered by God the Father and Spirit. If Jesus prayed whilst possessing omnipotence, how much more should we - mere creatures who are so weak and vulnerable! The meek pray. Do we pray?
HUMILITY IS EXPRESSED IN SERVICE
Humility is seen in the way that we serve others. The haughty think they are better than others. They deserve to be served. They are protective of their image. They are easily offended if their rights are not met… Jesus, in humility, served God and us:
‘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 nature God, 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!’ (Philippians 2:3-8)
Do you see that we are to follow Jesus’ example of self-less serving? Christians and churches can fall foul of our celebrity culture. We esteem the look and performance over character. We can, like Samuel, look at ‘the outward appearance’ and fail to miss the ‘David’ in our midst. God is looking for worshippers who will serve Him from the heart and we often want worldly success. As Tope Koleoso, speaking at the Leadership Conference warned:
‘Our churches can have entertainment masquerading as worship, clubs masquerading as community, leaders masquerading as God, you are not God!’
You and I are not God! This is the fundamental foundation of humility. Meekness is seen in dependent prayer and service. How can we grow in this?
Christ Taylor at the Leadership Conference encouraged us:
‘We grow in dependence on Him as we keep our eyes upon Him…As we worship we are humbled. It hard to exalt ourselves when we are exalting someone else. ‘ (Chris Taylor)
The Lord’s prayer begins by humbling us:
“Our Father in heaven hallowed by YOUR name, YOUR kingdom, YOUR will be done…”
The whole prayer is humbling. If we would worship each day and pray this, we will remain in a meek posture. It’s not about me! It’s not about you! It’s about Jesus! The glory of it is that He involves us and rewards us as we meekly seek His power so as to do His will for His glory.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
NEW GROUND SUNDAY - THE KINGDOM IS GROWING
On Sunday we had Dave Holden speaking at our New Ground Sunday. He spoke about the need for fresh faith that God is building His Kingdom and that He wants us involved.
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The Kingdom of God, put simply, is God’s rule. Whenever someone becomes a Christian, they enter the Kingdom as they come under the reign of Christ. Whenever the church effects the world in any way, the Kingdom is expressed as God’s will in done. To see the Kingdom come means more people becoming Christians and more light being shown through he acts of the saints.
GOD IS EXTENDING HIS KINGDOM
It’s God’s will for the Kingdom to grow. Isaiah promises that the success of the Kingdom, ultimately, depends upon God’s power and zeal:
‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.’ (Isaiah 9:6-7)
God’s kingdom is going to be extended from generation to generation and nation to nation until the end comes. Jesus taught us to pray:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”
This prayer will be fully answered at the return of Christ. Then, and only then, will the Kingdom be fully expressed in this fallen world and universe.
THE KINGDOM STARTS SMALL AND GROWS
Jesus spoke of the growing nature of the Kingdom with these 2 parables:
‘Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.’ Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’ (Luke 13:18-21)
Jesus is promising that the Kingdom of God will affect more and more people and places. Each generation is to expect to see the Kingdom extended. Again, as with The Lord’s Prayer, the full growth of the ‘tree’ and the full mixing of the ‘yeast’ is about the final consummation at Jesus’ return.
GOD WANTS YOU AND I INVOLVED
God is committed to His Kingdom coming. The final outcome is inevitable if the process of growth has started. The Spirit is at work to complete the work that He has started. However, He wants His church involved in this work. Through us, the Kingdom comes to more people and places.
RESPONSE - DIG AROUND IT!
Jesus gave us this parable:
‘Then he told this parable: A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” “Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’ (Luke 13:6-9)
This parable was confronting and challenging God’s people, many of whom were religious but unfruitful. Many were rejecting Christ. Jesus was speaking to them of God’s judgment, patience and call to repentance. God was giving them time to dig around the soil of their lives and come back to Him. God is calling us to dig around the soil of our lives. Are we being fruitful? Are we seeking first the Kingdom? Are we paying lip service but our hearts are not engaged? How does God want you to be more involved in 'seeking first the Kingdom of God'?
i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii) How would you summarise the Kingdom of God?
iii) How does one enter the Kingdom of God?
iii) When we pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” what are we asking to happen?
iii. How does God want you more involved in seeking the Kingdom?
SIV - Let's keep praying and planning for how we can invite people to our carol service on 11th December (4 pm).
SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?
SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?
SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.