Saturday, October 03, 2015

A Word From Pastor Mike - Humble Pie, Anyone?

Mark 9:35 "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

James 4:6  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

James 4:10  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."

Humility is a key value in the Christian Faith.  Jesus exemplified humility.  Our reading from James and Mark call followers to humility.

What is humility?  The word literally means "to be near the ground" or perhaps one could say, it means to be grounded.  

Here are some not-so-serious quotes about humility...

  • "Oh Lord, its hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way." Mac Davis

  • "My incredible humility is what makes me superior to everyone else."

  • "I try not to laugh at my own jokes, But we all know i'm hilarious."

  • And maybe the most outrageous quote of all, "Humility.  I've mastered it."

And that's the thing with humility.  You can't master it.  You can't win the humility championship.  You can't bestow the title on yourself.  The complete opposite of humility is lurking in the shadows.  That is pride.  Some say pride is the original sin; it's what caused Adam and Eve's fall from grace.

In the book of Mark, Jesus announces that he will be arrested, killed and 3 days later, rise again.  The disciples' response?  They did not understand.  The light did not come on.  Later, when they got to Capernaum, Jesus asks what they were discussing on the way.  They were discussing which of them was the greatest!

The disciples are us.  They weren't complete blundering fools but the Bible doesn't paint their picture with halos over their heads. They were people like you and me.  All human beings have their strengths and their weaknesses.  The power of sin is working on us but the Spirit of God also dwells within the faithful.

For some Christians, humility is a God given gift.  Other Christians learn to be more humble but then still sometimes struggle with pride.  We do some thing nice, some thing kind, and then we blow it by announcing to the world how kind and humble we are.  

Jesus took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

In Matthew's gospel, Jesus tells about the separation of people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats.  Jesus talks about being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, in prison.  They ask him when did they see him that way.  Jesus responds, "As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Mother Teresa, who worked with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India said, "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces given us and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."

In our society when the proud are brought down, when the arrogant are shamed, we say they have eaten humble pie. But this is really the encouragement of the whole Bible for Christians.  We SHOULD be feasting on humble pie.  Why is humility so important?  Because it keeps us grounded.  It keeps people connected and caring for each other.  Humility brings out the best in us.

Pride, in the bad sense of the word, can lead to arrogance, meanness, hard words and separation. Eating humble pie keeps us grounded, keeps us focused on what's most important.  The most important things are not trophies or awards but the kindness you showed others and how you helped those in need.

Jesus told his disciples that he would be arrested, suffer and die. The disciples didn't get it.  Later he would explain the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Jesus giving his life for us was, in part, an example of humility.

In the letter to the Philippians Paul would write, "Have this same mind among yourselves that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant... he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.

"Have this same mind among you."  Christ came to teach us to be humble servants.

Let us close by praying this Humility Prayer (author unknown)

Lord, I am far too much influenced by what people think of me, which means that I am always pretending to be either richer or smarter or nicer than I really am.  Please prevent me from trying to attract attention.  Don't let me gloat over praise on the one hand or be discouraged by criticism on the other.  Don't let me waste time weaving imaginary situations in which the most heroic, charming, witty person present i myself.  Show me how to be humble in heart like you.  Amen.

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