Humility: Living Last in a “Me First” World (Mark 9:30-37)
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HUMILITY: Living Last in a “Me First” World
The true character of genuine greatness, from Mark 9:30 to 37
I loved science as a kid. It was my science teacher, Mr. Jenkins who introduced me to photography. It was my science teacher, Mr. Bass who introduced me to the study of the ocean. As a kid, before Indiana Jones, I thought I might become some sort of science explorer–I loved reading about Louis Pasteur, and how his research changed the way medicine is practiced. But my favorite scientist above all, by far, is George Washington Carver.
A solid Christian, born to black slave parents, Carver is the brilliant scientist who discovered over 300 uses for the peanut. From the peanut plant, he developed nearly 300 products–ink, ice cream, bread, cosmetics, dyes, candy, soap, sausage and oils. Through the peanut, he found substitutes for flour, cheese, even coffee. But above all, the greatest find of this brilliant man was to discover the greatest food ever invented—peanut butter. Not only did Mr. Carver aid mankind, but better than that, he gave all the glory to God. Mr. Carver was a humble man.
In fact, listen to how he describes his own amazing accomplishments. I love this answer, “When I was young I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is reserved for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.” George was a humble man!
The Bible is very clear–to be truly great, you and I must be humble. The world says we need to be self-sufficient, self-assured, and feel good about ourselves. But the Bible says we need to be humble.
Athletes seek to set records, businessmen seek a higher position, laborers lust after higher pay, students seek better grades, more influence, and cooler friends. But there is a danger in that pursuit. One writer says the higher up we find ourselves in terms of power, influence, and wealth–the more vulnerable we are to pride, and the more prone we are to be blind to our spiritual needs and deficiencies. The subtle encroachment of pride will render us useless to God and others, more than any other kind of sin. Pride manifests itself in many subtle and lethal ways. Are you a proud person or a humble person? Listen carefully as I describe the difference between pride and humility.
The proud heart focuses on the failures of others
The humble heart is overwhelmed with their own spiritual need
The proud heart is critical and fault finding
The humble heart is compassionate and forgiving
The proud heart is independent and self-sufficient
The humble heart is dependent and recognizes their need of others
The proud heart wants to prove they’re right
The humble heart is willing to yield the right to be right
The proud heart claims their rights
The humble heart yields their rights
The proud heart desires to be served and to receive
The humble heart desires to serve and to give
The proud heart desires to be a success
The humble heart is motivated to be faithful and make others a success
The proud heart has a drive to be recognized and appreciated
The humble heart carries a sense of unworthiness
The proud heart thinks how lucky others are to have me serve them
The humble heart thinks how incredible God is to use me at all
The proud heart is wounded when others are recognized
The humble heart rejoices when others are recognized
The proud heart is sad and remorseful over their sin
The humble heart is genuinely repentant, desiring to forsake their sin
The proud heart is confident in how much they know
The humble heart is humbled by how much they have yet to learn
The proud heart is self conscious
The humble heart is not concerned with self
The proud heart privately keeps others at arm’s length
The humble heart is willing to risk getting close to others
The proud heart is quick to blame others
The humble heart accepts responsibility, and sees where they could be wrong
The proud heart has a hard time saying, “I was wrong”
The humble heart is quick to admit their failure and seek forgiveness
Men and women, it is only the humble person who is great. It is only the humble person God will use greatly. If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and the servant of all. And God proves that to us in Mark 9:30 to 41. Turn there in your outline. In Mark chapter 8, the Lord has told His disciples plainly that He is the Old Testament promised Messiah who will suffer, die and rise from the dead. The Lord has told His chosen children they’ll pay the price of denying themselves, suffering for Christ, and following Him in order to truly know Christ and live with Him now and forever.
In Mark chapter 9 God proved it was all true, showing Christ as God in His transfiguration, a visit from eternal friends Moses and Elijah, then by verbally commending His Son from the glory cloud. After coming down the mountain with His three disciples, He arrives to find the other nine disciples failing to depend in Christ through prayer, resulting in their inability to cast out a demon from a little boy. The Lord calls the boy’s father to believe, and delivers his only son while reminding His men of their great need to depend on Him in faith. What happens next? Stand in honor of the Word of God, as I read verses 30 to 38 see if you can discover the Lord’s challenge to live humbly.
“From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. 33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.’”
Let’s pray. Lord, help us to see what true greatness is. Allow us to see you clearly as the King, Lord–who is humble! Cause us to long for a heart of humility, and to kill pride in our lives. And awaken anyone here lost in pride so they might be saved. All for Your glory, in Christ’s name, amen!
One commentator wrote this: “Pride is the worst sin. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful. Pride is God’s most stubborn enemy. There is NO sin so much like the devil as pride.” This is huge–three disciples had just witnessed the glorious transfiguration in verses 1 to 13, followed by all of them seeing an incredible healing of a demon-possessed boy in verses 14 to 29. In spite of that amazing display of glory, power and love, you can’t help but gasp at the sick contrast between Jesus’ statements of His coming cross in verse 31, with the disciples’ conversation on being the greatest in verse 34–incredible!
While our Lord prepares for His crucifixion, the disciples are picking out their crowns. It was pride. So how does our Lord deal with pride in His followers? And how do you and I grow in humility? First, be impacted by . . .
#1 The ultimate DEMONSTRATION of Humility Verses 30 to 32
Read verses 30 to 32, “From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”
They’ve most likely remained in north Israel by Caesarea Philippi near Mount Hermon this entire time, but now they’ve hit the road for some private training–Master to disciples, in verse 30. What you may not know is, this is the final road to the cross. Jesus and the disciples begin the journey to Jerusalem that will result in His crucifixion in just a few months. Their immediate destination is Capernaum, but the Lord knows He’s now headed for the cross in Jerusalem.
So this is a crucial time for Christ and His twelve men. The men need to be prepared to be physically separated from Christ. The men need to be trained for the upcoming world-changing ministry. And the Lord knows pride is blossoming in some of their hearts. So verse 30 reads, “From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.”
From the far north of Israel, they’re traveling back down to the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee to the city of Capernaum, where Peter lives and Jesus hangs out. The Lord did not want the general public to know where He was. He wanted privacy in order to train the twelve. So because the crowd witnessed Christ deliver a little boy from a vicious demon, the Lord and His men need to leave to get privacy.
And as they travel, the Lord plainly describes His coming sacrifice and a true portrait of humility in verse 31. “For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’” This is the second time the Lord has plainly revealed why God became a man. Eternal Christ, God the Son, was born a man in order to die for the sins of His children–to take the punishment you deserve, to suffer in your place, to bear God’s anger for sin, and to pay the wages of sin on your behalf, which is death for you.
But death will not hold Christ, and three days later He will rise from the dead, having accomplished salvation for His children. Notice how important this is to Christ at the beginning of verse 31, “For He was teaching His disciples.” Do you see the first word? “For” . . . connecting it to the previous verse, telling us why the Lord in verse 30 did not want anyone to know about where they were. Jesus was seeking uninterrupted time with His twelve in order to be teaching them, which is to instruct, to impart doctrine, to expose God’s Word, and describe what God is like.
Then the phrase in verse 31, “He was telling them,” points out the Lord is verbally speaking to them about the cross over and over again. He is not saying this once or twice, but ongoing instruction and ongoing discussion about this crucial event, teaching and telling. And He tells them in verse 31, “the Son of Man will be delivered.” Son of Man is the Lord’s most popular self-description that comes from the book of Daniel, describing the God-man who is Lord of all. And this God-man, verse 31, “will be delivered into the hands of men.”
This is the second time Jesus fully reveals the coming cross, but He shares something new here. Jesus will be betrayed. This will be no accidental death–this is premeditated murder. “Delivered” is paradidotai, which means to be handed over–the Son of Man is to be delivered, handed over into the hands of men. Mark uses the Greek word delivered this way in His gospel:
Mark 10:33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles.”
Mark 15:1 “Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.”
Mark 15:15 “Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
This verb, “delivered”, is a futuristic present, giving it a sense of certainty. The passive voice of the verb actually hints at the agent of betrayal. This verb, “delivered”, is also used in the New Testament to describe the betrayal by Judas–being handed over to the Jewish leaders and delivered into the hands of the Gentile governor, Pilate, which is clearly in view when Mark says in verse 31, “delivered into the hands of men.” “Hands” is plural, and “men” is plural–Christ will be handed over to others who will murder Him.
But before you think this is some random tragedy, wake up. This same term, “delivered”, is also used to describe God Himself delivering up Jesus for our redemption. The New Testament makes this very clear, Acts 2:23, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” And Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.”
By a willful, pre-meditated, evil act men will betray Christ–but only as the will of God permits it in order to fulfill God’s greater divine purpose. Jesus is telling His men in verse 31 He intends to go to the cross. Though men will intentionally and knowingly seek to murder Christ, it is God’s will that Christ die for the sins of His children. God initiated this action before the earth existed. And God planned to save His children, and to pay the ultimate price to do so.
Look at the second half of verse 31, and read the double reference to His murder, “and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed”–this points to the reality of Christ being put to death violently. Then verse 31 concludes with, “He will rise three days later.” Mark uses the active voice, telling us Christ will rise in His own power and might.
In His teaching, Jesus kept His death and resurrection together. Jesus doesn’t just physically die, He also physically resurrected. He does not merely die–He lives again. His death isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. But His men still don’t get it–and worse, they’re afraid to ask. Verse 32, “But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” “Not understand” literally means it escaped them–they’re still ignorant of what God was doing through His Son. They continued to picture a deliverer from Rome, and not a deliverer from sin. They refused to take off their old glasses, which only showed a ruling Messiah. And they would not put on their new glasses, which brought the suffering Messiah clearly into focus.
Listen to how Luke describes their reaction in Luke 9:45, “But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.” Matthew 17:23 adds, “’and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.’ And they were deeply grieved.” They didn’t perceive it, and God concealed it from them since they weren’t ready for the full implications.
They didn’t yet understand exactly what God was going to accomplish through Christ’s death and resurrection. And Matthew says the disciples were also deeply grieved–there’s a growing sadness and gloom about what might lie ahead for the Lord, and for all of them. That’s part of the reason why verse 32 ends with, “they were afraid to ask Him.” When it’s happy news, you want to know–when it’s sad news, you don’t. “They were afraid”–the Greek means the disciples were feeling anxious, apprehensive, and frightened about His coming death. Plus, after Peter challenged the Lord’s death plans, Jesus reacted harshly toward Peter with, “Get behind me, Satan.” So which one of them is going to ask Jesus about his coming death now?
Humankind is not only imperfect–we are flawed, corrupted, messed up, distorted, defiant and rebellious in sin. We violate God’s law, distort God’s character, and resist God’s perfect plan. You know you deserve judgment, but want to avoid it. So you try religion, doing good deeds, and making sacrifices, but fall short. It is impossible for you to cleanse yourself from sin. It is impossible for you to get right with God by your choices. God had to save you, so He was born a man, lived a perfect life, then died on the cross for your sins, taking your punishment, satisfying God’s justice and providing a way for you to be forgiven.
That is what makes Christ the model of humility. Perfect God left heaven to live as a man for 33 years, then die for the sins of His children–and not just any death, but the death of a criminal on the torture of the cross. Romans 5:6 and 8, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Humility is dying to self—it’s serving others, it’s giving yourself away, it’s seeking what’s best for others. True humility is perfect, almighty God, solving our sin problem. Christ going to the cross is the example of true greatness. Laying down one’s life for another is the expression of humility. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
The path to greatness has to do with denying yourself–but the disciples struggled. Even the night before our Lord was crucified, in the Upper Room, the twelve were again arguing over “who is the greatest.” What did Jesus do then? Jesus removed His outer garment, took a basin of water and began to wash the disciples’ feet. The Incarnate God, who is just hours away from dying for their rebellious sins, washed the feet of his arrogant disciples. John 13:14 and 15, “’If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.’” But for now, the meaning of humility and the Lord’s coming suffering and sacrifice completely escaped His men, leading to . . .
#2 Christ exposing their LACK of Humility Verses 33 to 34
Read verses 33 to 34, “They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.” How subtle and sick pride is! Just how bad is it? Just after the Lord describes His coming cross, His men start arguing about their coming crowns. Immediately after the Lord announces His coming passion, they’re arguing about their coming privileges. I can’t imagine how hurtful this was to Christ’s already burdened soul.
While on the road, they’re having a lively discussion. “One another” is emphatic–it’s a hot discussion discussed with one another. Mark seems to indicate the Lord was walking in front, possibly alone, probably considering the coming cross just months away. Then grouped behind Him, as if they were in the back of the bus, are the disciples, fighting over position, extolling their place in the coming Kingdom, pushing for a higher rank and seeking to be first. They are arguing over which one of us is the greatest. “Discussing” is to contend or dispute, suggesting a heated discussion–and the Greek tense of discussing tells us it was a long argument.
Every one of you has done it, and probably still battle with it. Remember when you had to be first in line, chosen first in kickball, called on first by the teacher, chosen first by the coach, acknowledged first at work, complimented first for your new look, first in your group as you board the plane, first to get your food, first in front of the other cars on the freeway, first off the line at the signal, first to get the new gadget, first to see the new movie, first to ride the new ride at Disneyland?
The disciples want to be first in Christ’s Kingdom. Now they are not desiring worldly greatness, but a zeal for the things of God—but they went too far. They wanted the chief seats, like the scribes, and they were preoccupied with rank and honor. Three of them just returned from the Transfiguration–Peter, James and John are probably leading the way in claiming first place in God’s new rule. Peter, the speaker leader, the one Jesus called the Rock, says, “It’s gotta be me.” “No,” James and John say, “we’re the Sons of Thunder, it’s us!” The other nine all have had their moments, so they want to be first.
It may even be that all this talk of the Lord’s coming death has given rise to who’ll be the successor—who is gonna take over? But the Lord saw right into their hearts. So as Jesus and the twelve return to Capernaum where Peter has a house and family, the Lord seeks to expose their sinful pride. Verse 33, “They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’”
The Lord gives them an opportunity to confess, but they were too convicted and ashamed to reply. Verse 34, “But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.” The Greek word “greatest” is to magnify–who will live the largest? Who will sit on Christ’s right and left? So then who are truly the mightiest in God’s eyes?
The Lord wants them to see how His Kingdom works. Greatness is not found in being first, but in living last. Humility doesn’t focus on self, but serving. True greatness is thinking more about the Great One than thinking about yourself. Do you recall how Paul thought of Himself in the New Testament? Paul said . . .
“I am the least of the apostles” in AD 59, 1 Corinthians 15:9. Then four years later . . .
“I am the very least of all the saints” in AD 63, Ephesians 3:8. One year later . . .
“I am the foremost of sinners” in AD 64, 1 Timothy 1:15.
As the years pass, Paul thinks less and lower of himself, but Paul increasingly thought more and higher of Christ. Just like John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” So how do we do it? How do we grow in humility? Thankfully the Lord gives us specific answers.
#3 Christ’s instruction on how to DEVELOP Humility Verses 35 to 37
Today, do you really want to be great in God’s eyes? Are you here wanting to please Jesus Christ? Students, how can you make the biggest impact for Christ on your campus? Men, in your workplace? Ladies, in your neighborhood? Grow in humility, by obeying what Christ says starting in verse 35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.’” The Lord makes two powerful applications–two steps to developing humility. In fact, without these two you can’t become humble.
First Be first in SERVICE to all others Verse 35
Are you known for being a servant? Not doing your chores or taking out the trash, though that’s nice. Jesus is not talking about filling your wife’s tank with gas, though that’s also nice–but with everyone, all the time, looking for ways to serve. Do you love living last in a “me first” world? Read verse 35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’”
Christ is at His hangout house in Capernaum, either a home He used, or Peter’s house who lived in Capernaum with his family. When rabbis officially taught, they’d sit down–and Mark tells us Jesus sat down and calls the twelve to come around Him and listen. Who is the greatest person in God’s eye’s? What behavior does the Lord desire from His men and women? What are the actions that bring a huge smile to God the Son? Verse 35, “’If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’”
If you’re a doctor with twenty employees who say, “How high?” when you say, “Jump” . . . if you’re a policeman who gives orders and carries a gun . . . if you’re an executive who tells people what to do as a job . . . true, you don’t abdicate your authority or responsibility, but no matter who you are, as a genuine believer (all ages), you and I are called to radical servanthood. This is the way to true firstness in God’s eyes. This is the one who is the greatest in our midst. You’re to serve first, live last in a “me first” world. Jesus tells His men what matters to Him is for them not to pursue the top dog, high position, ranked first in the group, but to love always being last and serving all.
Did you see the condition in verse 35, “If anyone wants to be first.” The condition is you have to want it–the Greek is desire or will. Spiritual zeal is missing today–do you want to please Christ? Too many believers act like Christ is your distant uncle you see occasionally, rather than your most intimate friend you can’t wait to be with and talk to all day long—zeal. Have you prayed to be a Paul or a Daniel or Peter?
Are you determined to pursue Christ—or don’t you care anymore? Jesus says it’s a general rule–anyone or any man (not just the twelve) can pursue being great in my eyes. Being first is not evil, as long as it’s being first the way Christ designed. Go ahead and desire to be great in God’s eyes, just do it His way. What way is that? There are two ways. Verse 35, “He shall be last of all and servant of all.”
“Shall be last” is best taken as he will be last by his own deliberate choice–he will voluntarily humble himself to assume the position of being last of all in his own circle. It’s choosing to let others go first in line, at the intersection, on the freeway, in the grocery line, in the store, boarding the plane–it’s esteeming your brother or sister at home more than yourself. It’s not competing in order to do better than others or beat others, but competing to please Christ. You love being last in a “me first” world.
“Servant of all” is a heart seeking to demonstrate voluntary service to others. The word “servant” is not describing a slave, but an attendant who renders a free service to others. “Servant” is describing a service being rendered rather than a servile status. True humility is not self-deprecation or humiliation, but an attitude of unselfishness and self-forgetfulness which seeks the welfare of others.
And Jesus says in verse 35, being last and service was “to all”. This is not selective service just for your friends, your family, or your favorite people, but to all–friends and strangers, popular and lowly. Service is not only the passport to developing humility, but also the very essence of greatness in Christ’s kingdom. Let me ask you one more time–do you serve? You are commanded to serve–your Savior calls you to serve, and the only way you can kill pride and develop humility is to serve.
Even in random relationships, we are commanded to serve one another–Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Serve your giftedness in a local church–1 Peter 4:10 and 11, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Even serve your unsaved neighbor, the grocer and kids’ coach–Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
True greatness in God’s Kingdom is not for the gifted and famous, but rather true humility is cultivated through a heart of service. Just like Jesus, who came to serve, Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Are you here this morning to be served, or to serve–to grow humble, seek to be last, and serve others? And the second key to developing humility is to . . .
Second Be first to CARE for the weakest/neediest Verses 36 to 37
Look carefully at what Jesus says in verses 36 to 37, “Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.’” This is a tender moment–as Jesus sits there, He picks up a child, turns the child around so the child is facing the disciples, and Jesus cradles the small child in His arms. Literally, “bent arms” like this–it is sweet to reflect on the strong possibility that this young child is probably one of Peter’s children.
I know, you get it–to be humble we need to be like a child. No, read your Bibles, friends–that’s taught elsewhere, but not here. This is not about acting dependent, or living by simple trusting faith. Look carefully at verse 37, “’Whoever receives one child like this in My name, receives Me.’” The child here is a metaphor for a believer, both in Mark here, then later in verse 42, and in the parallel account in Matthew 18, “’If you cause one of these little ones who believe to stumble,’” Christ is describing believers, not only children–they’re believers.
A child was the least significant person in Jewish and Roman society. Children were not fawned over in those cultures. They were considered weak, or here in this passage—“the last.” So Jesus is saying accepting, serving, caring for such a child, the lowliest on the social ladder, is to be a servant of all. Look at verse 37, “Whoever receives,” is the Greek verb for welcomed–to accept, to embrace, to care. We’d say to include in my crew.
Jesus welcomed this child into His arms. To receive such a child like any lowly believer is to humble oneself and become servant of all. So don’t miss the point. The disciples are not exhorted here to be like children, but to be like Jesus who received them. It is the Lord, not the child, who portrays what a servant is all about. The issue is not the imitation of the children, but how you accept and care for the weakest and neediest around you.
And the Lord adds, when you accept lowly believers “in my name,” meaning all of who Christ is, on the basis of all of Christ’s character, “in my name” is on the basis of all God has revealed about Christ in His Word. So when the weakest and lowliest Christian is embraced by you, it is not because they’re great by worldly standards, but because they belong to Christ, and Christ is great in my name.
When the Christian high school athlete builds friendships with the nerd . . . when the Christian cheerleader genuinely cares for the rejected gal . . . when the Christian housewife listens to the socially different mom . . . when the Christian businessman is buddies with the believing warehouse-worker . . . Jesus says, when you embrace the weakest and lowliest, it’s as if you’re welcoming me. When you make them your crew, it’s as if you are making Me your crew as well.
And the Lord even makes a stronger point at the end of verse 37b, “whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” When Jesus says, “not receive me,” He means “not only Me.” When you care for and embrace the lowly, you’re not only humble, but you’re also welcomed by God the Father–your Heavenly Father. This is awesome–as you make lowly, weak, needy believers your crew, Jesus says the Father makes you His crew. You’re giving evidence that you are truly a born again believer. You are showing you belong to God and belong in Heaven with Him
A. Are you battling with PRIDE?
J Oswald Sanders provides three searching tests to ask if you have succumbed to the deadly danger of pride.
1 The Test of PRECEDENCE How do we react when another is selected for the assignment we expected? When another is promoted and we are overlooked? When another outshines us in gifts and accomplishments?
2 The Test of SINCERITY In moments of honest self-criticism, we will say many things about ourselves and really mean them. But how do we feel when others, especially our rivals, say exactly the same things about us?
3 The Test of CRITICISM Does criticism arouse resentment in our hearts and cause us to fly to immediate self-justification? Do we hasten to criticize the critic? Only when we compare ourselves to Christ, who humbled Himself to death on a cross will we begin to be overwhelmed by the vile pride in our hearts. Take time this week to deeply remember the incredible example of Christ’s humility by dying for a proud, defiant sinner like you.
B. Are you growing in HUMILITY?
The Lord just told us in order to develop humility, you regularly, faithfully serve your fellow Christians in ministry in the Church, serve one another in relationship–even serve the lost around us. These are not optional for true believers, but commands. Stop sitting on the sidelines and get into the game. A biblical local church is made up of participants, not spectators.
The only people here at FBC who should not be serving are visitors, those who are recovering from another church, or those physically incapable because of a near-death disease or surgery. Why? Cause every genuine believer serves–it is who a Christian is. If you know Christ, you’ll want to be like Christ who came to serve. Are you a servant, not with an occasional act of service, but as a way of life you have a heart to serve? The greatest in God’s eyes are the servants.
And the Lord said to grow humble, our service will jump over any social barrier, any clique, any age difference in order to care for and embrace the believing needy, different and weak. Those developing humility are those who care for the weakest. We want others to be first over us–to esteem others over us. The Lord changes our hearts so we want to break social barriers and care for all genuine brothers and sisters, making them our crew. Are you growing in humility?
C. Do you KNOW Christ?
Becoming a Christian is not accepting Jesus in your heart for fire insurance, then continue living for yourself. To become a Christian, you came to an end of yourself and hated your sick, proud, selfish sin–so you surrendered your life to Christ, believed He took the punishment for your sins on the cross and lives to give you eternal life. You had to humble yourself. If today you’ve never come to that place, but in your heart you are sick of your pride, and see it as God does, then humble yourself and turn to Jesus Christ alone to be saved right now.
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