Embracing Humility

Scripture: Micah 6:8, Genesis 32:22-32
Date: 07/22/2000 
The supreme motive of hell is selfishness and the highest motive of heaven is love. Humility lays the foundation for true love. It does not mean berating yourself, but to think of yourself appropriately.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

“To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.” Micah presents that as the ultimate in what does the Lord require of us. You know I was reading a book about ancient America, early America, and the author, some old writings, was talking about the humble bee, the humble bee. And I discovered he was talking about the bumblebee. Did you know that the bumblebee, the name for it, originated in America and it used to be called the humble bee? The children had trouble saying humblebee and so they used to call it the bumblebee. And it’s name gradually evolved into bumblebee and they were called humble bees because they would not sting.

You really have to provoke one. They will sting, but you really have to provoke them. I remember one time I was riding my motorcycle down the highway at top speed dressed like Fonzi, my leather jacket zipped halfway down and suddenly I thought I was shot. You know I had seen that movie early in my life called Easy Rider where these hippies were shot off their motorcycles. And I thought some redneck in Covelo shot me. And I swerved to do all I could do from crashing. Went off to the side of the road to examine my wound. I had been hit by a humblebee. Now they’re very big. You get struck by one of those and if he’s doing 15 miles an hour and you’re doing 60 and you have a head-on collision it’s like a bullet going 75 miles an hour. It’s about that big. And so I was humbled by a bumblebee. You know just before we went on the platform at they General Conference there was a brief moment when the North American Division was making it’s report and they said, “Let’s talk about the Net Program. Let’s talk about Net ’95 and ’96, and ’97, ’98, ’99, Acts 2000 and the Spanish Net Programs.” And they brought all the speakers out on the platform. And just before we went out on the platform I was back there, we had a lot of fun. It took about 45 minutes. I was visiting with Mark Finley and Ken Cox and ????.

I said that wrong, didn’t I? And Frank Gonzalez who is, and Mark Finley and Dwight Nelson. Huh? And Dwight Nelson. I’m getting to that. What are you doing way back there, in the seat of the scornful? In any event, I don’t know what brought it up, but out of the blue Dwight was talking about the Net Program that he had concluded and he said, “Doug, embrace what humbles you.” And I don’t know if he thought I needed humbling, but it was a good statement. And I said, “That’s really good.” He said, “Well, I wish I could take credit for it. It’s Andrew Murray.” “Embrace what humbles you.” And you know, he said that, I think it was God’s will. It really, you know sometimes you listen to people talk all day long, but every now and then something really stands out. And the Holy Spirit tattooed that inside my head, “Embrace what humbles you.”

Of course the timing couldn’t have been better. Right after he told me that we walked out on the platform there at General Conference and it looked like 40,000, 50,000 people in the coliseum. It’s pretty monumentous when you get out on; that platform’s over 100 feet long and you see this auditorium, people all over the world who believe like you. It just takes your breath away. And as I was standing there and they’re getting ready to you know announce the various Net speakers I was thinking about what Dwight had just said and he was sitting next to me. “Embrace what humbles you.” And I spent a lot of time thinking about that. So I thought I’d share a little bit about what the Lord’s shown me with you. The manifest of hell is pride. The supreme motive is selfishness. The manifest of heaven is humility and the supreme motive is love.

We naturally run from that which humbles us because we are all naturally selfish and we are naturally proud. People who suffer from low self-esteem are not humble. They’re often very proud. And they’re intimidated by not feeling good enough about themselves because of the pride. It’s really a, it’s sort of a paradox. You would think a person with low self-esteem is humble. That’s not true. A person can be humble and still feel comfortable with who they are. Why don’t you say this with me? It’s four words. Embrace what humbles you. Would you do that? Embrace what humbles you. Of course the sermon’s called Embracing Humility. Now the Bible has an awful lot to say about the subject of humility. I won’t be able to get through all the material that I’ve compiled this morning. “Humility is a very strange thing someone said.

The moment you think you’ve acquired it is the very same moment you’ve lost it.” You’ve heard about people who are proud of their humility. I think it was Golda Meir who said, “Don’t be humble. You’re not that great.” It’s like the man who bought this little car in Florida and he was so proud of the wonderful gas economy that he got. The problem was the car had to be so small to get that gas economy, whenever he pulled up to one of these traffic signals where you trip the light by the weight of your car his car wasn’t heavy enough to trip the light. So he had to stand there sometimes idling for, you know, endless minutes until a heavier vehicle pulled up behind him to trip the light where he could go on his way.

It’s like those who are proud of their humility. It doesn’t really exist. “There is nothing more awful than conscious humility. It is the most satanic type of pride.” And that’s Oswald Chambers. “A man,” Dwight Moody says, “A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith. He can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility.” It’s possible to be too big for God to use you, but it’s never possible to be too small for God to use you. Humility is the virtue that God longs to see reflected in His people.

Of course it’s the, one of the main attributes of Christ. He was meek. He was humble and lowly even though He was the most powerful individual who ever walked the earth. Amen? Romans 12:3. Now if you’re going to discuss humility there’s a lot of misconceptions. Humility does not mean berating yourself and denying who you really are. It means being realistic about who you really are. Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, every one who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” That’s humility. False humility is also very ugly. That’s the idea of deliberately trying to appear humble by undermining yourself. It’s like Tiger Woods saying, “No, me? I don’t know how to golf.” That’s false humility. It’s not true. That’s not humility when you deny who you really are. It’s called dishonesty. And so these people who think they’re being humble by denying who they really are, that’s not humility. It’s lying. So there’s a difference. I used to wonder sometimes, you ever watch one of these beauty pageants? Miss America, Miss Universe.

They have the five or 10 last runner-ups and then finally they announce who the winner is. And all of those who took second, third, tenth, fifth place they run up and oogle around that person and hug them and cry apparent tears of joy. They’re so happy that they won. I had a friend who was in a pageant like that. She didn’t even make it to the runner up position, but she assured me that as soon as those girls walked off the platform if they could they’d claw the eyes out of the winner. It’s, they are there to win the pageant. And they train and go through all this humiliation, you might say, to win. And of course they manifest because it’s considered polite and proper, good manners and noble and dignified to act as though you’re so happy the other person won. Because that’s what a beauty queen would do, right? That’s a false humility.

Now the Bible tells us there are a number of benefits to embracing what humbles you. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Please turn with me to a story you know. It’s in Genesis 32. When Jacob wrestled with the angel we believe that angel was Michael, amen? And the Bible says that as he was wrestling and striving through the night Jacob, who was in his own right a very strong man. Some of you remember the story when Rachel came to water her flocks and Jacob first laid eyes on her. I don’t know if it was because he was partially inspired by her beauty, but he personally threw aside the stone that covered the well that normally took a group of men to move. Jacob was not a wimp. He was a strong man. And he wrestled with this angel through the night. Finally as the day dawned the angel touched his side and instantly his hip was out of its socket. Now you know your leg rotates on a ball-joint. Is that right, dear? You paying attention? Your leg revolves; see that’s what happens you sit way back there. Your leg revolves on a, it’s a ball-joint here in your hip, is that what it is? Yeah.

When that pops out it’s supposed to be extremely, extremely, excruciatingly painful. Here he’s wrestling and maybe he even thought he was making some headway and bingo he’s in agonizing pain. He suddenly realized that any wrestler who could do that was supernatural, that he was wrestling with God’s messenger or indeed God the Son. And so what did he do? Did he let go? Or did he embrace what humbled him? The Bible says that he clung to the angel. And the angel had to say, “Let me go, for the day breaks. But he said, I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Say it with me again. Embrace what humbles you. He wasn’t clinging to the angel because he thought he was going to pin him. He knew the angel was far superior in strength. But he knew that he was in the presence of one who could humble him and he was embracing that which humbled him. What was the result?

Was God angry or did God bless him? When he embraced what humbled him he was given the promise of God that his prayer was answered, his sins were forgiven, the Messiah would come through his seed. Why? Because he embraced that which caused him pain. Instead of running from Him. In II Samuel 16:10 King David is under attack from his own family. Absalom, without cause, launches attack against his own father, wants his father dead. That’s mortifying. David has to flee Jerusalem, his own capitol. Has to quit his own palace, leave his concubines behind. He’s making his way up the Mount of Olives weeping. The same way that Jesus the son of David went down the Mount of Olives weeping. And out comes one of the relatives of Saul. Remember Saul the king who was always trying to kill David? His name was Shimei. And he thinks now that maybe the Benjamites will be put back on the throne of Israel. And he begins to curse David, say terribly disparaging things about David. Throws stones at the king. Now David still has his army there. He’s got Joab and his brother Abishai and they see Shimei hurling stones at David. David’s got his head covered, he’s humbling himself, he’s going up the hill weeping, his clothes are rent. He’s in an attitude of humility and mourning and Shimei begins to curse him.

So David fires arrows at Shimei? No. Abishai says to David, “David, let me go cut off the head of this dead dog.” And David says to Joab, Abishai’s brighter, he says, “You sons of Zeruiah, how am I going to deal with you? Don’t you understand the principles that God works under?” I’m paraphrasing. And he said, “Let him alone and let him curse, for so the Lord had ordained him.” You know God sometimes allows people and events to humble us. What makes the difference is how we respond to those things that humble us. David said, “Let him curse. It may be the Lord will look on my affliction and the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” What did Jesus do when people reviled and cursed Him? Did He retaliate? Did He attack back? Or did He embrace that which humbled Him? “Let him throw stones.” And did God turn things around? Did God install David once again on his throne? Why? Because he had learned this lesson to embrace what humbled him. And what about all the years that Saul pursued David? And David had more than one opportunity to get even with his king. And Abishai once again says, “Let me strike him to the ground,” when Saul lay sleeping in the camp. And David said, “No. Let God take care of it.

If God wants me to run then I’m going to embrace what humbles me and I’ll run.” And he had learned that lesson. I heard about a pastor one time who was telling this story that he was from the South and he said his mother was an especially large gal and whenever she would discipline him he found that if he tried to get away from her that she had much more centrifugal velocity on the belt. But if he would hug her when she whipped him it lessened the blow. He would embrace what humbled him. Somebody said one time, “It always lessens the blows if you draw near the one who holds the rod.” That’s a good quote. It always lessens the blow. When you’re under the discipline of God don’t run. It increases the velocity. Draw near the one who holds the rod. That’s what Psalm 23 is all about. We’re at rest, we’re at peace. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

You stay near the shepherd it doesn’t hurt near as much. Jesus talked about this in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5. “Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” Jesus said that we should rejoice. He didn’t say retaliate. He said, “It’s to be expected that you will be attacked if you follow me.” Embrace what humbles you. You remember the story where because of David’s pride he numbered Israel? Wanted to see how big his army was. He was at the pinnacle of his success and said, “I wonder how many soldiers I have. I bet I have more than all the other armies, all the other nations around me.” He sent Joab to number all the forces and Joab even knew that this was an act of pride. He even had enough spiritual insight to say, “David, why are your requiring this thing? This isn’t right. You’re attitude’s not good.” David persisted. He said, “That’s an order. Get out there. Number Israel.”

So Joab went and he numbered Israel. Joab was so disgusted he didn’t even number everybody the Bible tells us. Came back and gave the number to David and then a terrible plague came on Israel and God began to decimate the troops that David had just numbered. And David instead of shaking his fist at God, he humbled himself. Gad the prophet said, “The lord’s going to discipline you and you’ve got three options. You want to run from your enemies? Do you want to have a famine in the land or three days of plague?” And David said, “I’m going to let God decide. I’m going to draw near the one who holds the rod.” II Samuel 24:14, David said to God, to Gad the prophet, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord.” He humbled himself and you know what? The Lord cut the plague short because David humbled himself. Another small principle or very important principle that deals with humility. Forgiveness hinges on humility. Did you know that? The Bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.” James 4:6, “He resists the proud.”

When proud people are coming to the Lord expecting forgiveness you’re not going to get it. Grace is the vehicle by which we obtain the forgiveness of God. God will resist the proud, but He gives grace, forgiveness, to who? The humble. You know that story, Luke 18:11? Jesus says, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, a Pharisee and a Publican. And the Pharisee stood,” posture of self-reliance, “and he prayed thus with himself. God I thank you I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess. You should be lucky to have me on your team, God.” I threw that in. “And the tax collector, standing afar off,” he won’t even come to the front because he doesn’t feel worthy, “he would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven. He bows his head.

He beats his breast and he says, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He’s humbling himself. Now from the world’s perspective who is the bigger sinner? The Publican or the Pharisee? You know the Publicans were the, they were the tax collectors that drank and lived hard and they were sort of the outcasts. And the Publican humbled himself. The Pharisee, they were the church leaders. And the Bible says that, “Jesus declared, I tell you this man, the Publican, he went down to his house justified,” forgiven, “rather than the other.” The other was not. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Can I translate that for you? He that humbles himself will be forgiven. He gives grace to the humble. Now something else I’m going to highlight that’s going to come up more and more. You can pray for humility, but do you know what you’re really asking for when you pray for humility? You’re asking God to humiliate you. Be careful because the Bible doesn’t tell you you’re supposed to pray that prayer. Did you know that?

The Bible does say we should humble ourselves. You choose whether to respond in a proud, arrogant or humble, meek way. Did you know that? You have that freedom to choose how you’re going to respond. Turn with me to the book of James. I want to emphasize this point. Chapter 4, please, James 4. I’m going to go back and include verse 6 again. “But he gives more grace,” James 4:6, “therefore he says, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Incidentally, James is quoting Proverbs 3:34. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Draw near,” draw near to the one who holds the rod. Embrace that which humbles you. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded. Lament and mourn and weep.” Humbling yourself. “Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.” Notice, “Humble yourself so you can stay groveling forever.” Why do we humble ourselves? “Humble yourselves in the sight of God,” does it say God’ll humble you or does it say humble yourself?

You must choose to humble yourself. God cannot put humility in your heart. It’s something that you have the option to embrace. “Humble yourself in the sight of God and he will lift you up.” Why do we humble ourselves? Because you are not to lift yourself up. That’s God’s business. You can choose to humble yourself and He’ll lift you in His own time. “He who humbles himself will be exalted. He who exalts himself will be humbled.” The Bible is very clear. Draw near and God will lift you up. Embrace that which humbles you. You can choose to humble yourself. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” What’s the promise? “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” II Chronicles 7:14-15, “If my people,” II Chronicles 7:14-15, I’m sorry. You know this, don’t you? If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves.”

There it is again. Choosing to humble ourselves. “And pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins.” “Humble yourself and I’ll forgive you.” “I will forgive their sins and heal their land.” “If they do this, if they humble themselves I will forgive and heal.” The criteria for forgiveness is humbling. You know why we kneel when we pray? A Pharisee stood and prayed and he was not forgiven. When we pray, now I’m not saying you always have to kneel when you pray, but when you’re praying for mercy you want to humble yourself. What does it mean when someone gets down on their knees? Do you know that even in the animal kingdom there’s always a top dog in every pack? And you know how the other dogs demonstrate that they acknowledge the top dog? Is when the top dog comes near they flip over and expose their throat. Well God is the top dog. Forgive me; He’s also the hound of heaven. And we need to humble ourselves before Him when we’re asking for mercy. It’s interesting that even the top dog in a pack when the other dogs roll over and expose their necks, they won’t attack. All they’re wanting is acknowledgement. And if we humble ourselves before the Lord He’ll forgive us. This is true also of even some of the wicked kings.

They learned this lesson. This is my next point. Humility will promote and prolong peace. Pride invites judgment. I want to say that again. It’s very important. Humility will promote and prolong peace where pride, on the other hand, invites judgment, severe judgment. Proverbs 16:19, “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly than divide the spoil with the proud.” I want to read something else Andrew Murray says regarding a definition for humility. “Humility is perfect quietness of heart.” Humility promotes peace. “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing against me. It’s to be at rest when nobody praises me. And when I am blamed or despised it is to have been blessed home in the Lord, when I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and am at peace as in the deep of the calmness in the sea when all around me is trouble above.” When you have humility the devil can’t hurt you. You know why we’re so often offended, why we’re so often defensive? It’s because of our pride.

When people speak unkindly about us and we want to retaliate what does that indicate? It’s pride. But if we embrace what humbles us there’s a tremendous peace that comes with that. I Kings 21:29, when you think about the wicked kings of Israel, among the top three Ahab’s in there somewhere. Would we all agree? Wicked King Ahab, husband to Jezebel, persecuted the prophets and Elijah. You know the Bible says that after Elijah the prophet came and pronounced judgment on Ahab because Jezebel had Nabath killed so Ahab could get his vineyard. Elijah came to Ahab and he pronounced judgment that he and his children would no longer be on the throne. How did Ahab respond? Did he retaliate? Did he defend himself? Did he get angry? He had learned that Elijah was a prophet of God and no matter what he did what Elijah said was going to happen.

Ahab tore his clothes, put ashes on his head and he went about softly. The word is humbly. Listen to what the Lord says to Elijah. “See how Ahab has humbled himself before me. Because he has humbled himself before me I will not bring the calamity in his days, but rather in the days of his son I’ll bring the calamity on his house.” The judgment was postponed. He had prolonged peace because he humbled himself. You remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar. He had a dream of this big tree and the tree is cut down and Daniel interprets the dream and he said, “That dream is you, O King. And there’s going to be judgment upon you. My advice is that you humble yourself, that you confess your sins that it might be a lengthening of your tranquility, a prolonging of your peace.” And for at least a year Nebuchadnezzar listened to Daniel, but then he couldn’t take it any more, got up on the balcony as he surveyed Babylon and all its splendor. He said, “Is not this the great Babylon that I have built by my majesty and my power?” And then the judgment came. But as long as he was walking softly he had peace and prosperity. The same thing happened during the days of Josiah.

Josiah had the priests reading the scriptures about the judgments that were going to fall on God’s people if they turned away from the Lord. And he realized that they had broken every one of God’s commandments and impending judgment was coming, the prophets had told him. But a prophet was sent to Josiah because he humbled himself. And listen to what the prophet said. II Chronicles 34:27-28, “Because your heart was tender, and you’ve humbled yourself before God when you heard the words against this place,” the impending judgment, “and against the inhabitants and you humbled yourself before me and you tore your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you says the Lord. Surely, I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace.” Humbling yourself prolongs peace. Isn’t that a clear principle from the Bible that you can count on? There’s a lot that we miss because we; a lot of the blessings of God we miss and a lot of anxiety we invite because of our pride. Humility fosters soul winning. Psalm 51:12-13, this great prayer of repentance that King David prayed. He says, “Restore unto me,” verse 12-13, “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with you generous spirit, then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will be converted to you.”

As David humbles himself in this prayer he acknowledges that that will open the way for conversions. Luke 5:8 & 10, when Simon Peter saw this great miracle where Jesus multiplied the fishes he fell down at Jesus’ knees. He humbles himself before the Lord. He says, “Depart from me, Lord. I’m a sinful man.” He confesses. You notice what he’s doing? He is saying, “I’m a sinful man,” but does he run from Jesus or embrace Him? Is he going from or to Christ? He falls down at His knees. He says, “Depart from me,” but Peter didn’t leave. He’s embracing that which humbles him. He says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” And what did Jesus say? “You’re right. You’re a sinner. Get out of here.” No. “Because you’ve humbled yourself do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Humility paves the way for others to be converted. Pride wrecks a church’s evangelistic possibilities. Humility creates an environment where the lord can bring people in to see Christ. Mark 1:7, John the Baptist, the very successful evangelist, he preached saying, “There comes one after me whose mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” And because of the humility of John multitudes came from all around Jerusalem and Judea to hear him speak, a humble man.

Isaiah became a prophet of God. What happened before he was commissioned by God? He fell down on his knees before the Lord. He confessed and says, “Woe is me! I am undone. I am a man of sinful lips. I dwell in the midst of a people of sinful lips.” And what did God say? “You’re right, you’re a sinner. Get out of here.” No, God said, “Who will go forth and who shall I send?” And He employed Isaiah. He humbled himself ad then he was sent. What was preceding the outpouring of the Spirit and all those baptisms at Pentecost? What did the disciples do for 10 days in the upper room? They put aside their differences. They humbled themselves. There was a spirit of one accord. They were all guilty of sin. What were they arguing about during the Last Supper in the upper room? In that same place. Which of them was greatest? Which of them was at fault? But when they turned away from that attitude and they humbled themselves before the Lord then He could fill them with the Spirit and thousands were converted. Can you say amen?

I want to read something to you from Testimonies to the Church, volume 9. “If we would,” this is page 189. You ought to write this down. This is a great reference. Testimonies, volume 9, page 189, “If we would humble ourselves before the Lord and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful there would be 100 conversions to the truth where now there’s only one.” Now let’s think about that for a minute. I believe that. If we’d humble ourselves and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful there’d be 100 conversions to the truth where now there’s one. We’re getting ready to engage in all out war with the devil, evangelistic meeting. Invading his territory. Typically, I’ll tell you there’s a formula that a decent evangelist looks for. You hope as a minimum that you can baptize 10% of your opening night attendance.

I know Steve DeLong’s here. He probably does better than that. But I try to get 10%. Let’s say that opening night we had, just trying to stretch your thinking right now. Let’s say that going by the regular, carnal formulas for evangelism that a conference looks at when they do budgeting. You know Conference has a formula how much a soul costs. The advertising and everything. And you’ve got to think that way. I’m not faulting them. You’ve got to figure what does it cost to win a soul? If you go by that and let’s suppose, we seat 1200 people here, if everybody that comes that’s a member brings somebody plus the general public that may come we could have 700-800 visitors. You baptize 10%, that would be what, 70 or 80? Now take that 70 and 80 and apply that there’ll be 100 conversions for every one if we would really humble ourselves.

What do you have then? 70 or 80 times 100, what is that? 7,000 or 8,000? Is that possible? If we would humble ourselves. If we would have the same spirit in our midst that the apostles had after they saw Jesus on the cross. And put aside our differences and draw together. God can pour out the Spirit for us in the year 2000 the way He did for them in 31 AD, amen? Do you believe that? Humility fosters soul winning. Humility increases wisdom. Now this is sort of a backwards analogy I’m going to use, but some of the wisest in the Bible were also the most humble. Joseph, when he came before the Pharaoh to interpret the dreams the Pharaoh asked him, Genesis 41:15-16, “And the pharaoh said to Joseph, I have heard it is said of you that you can understand a dream and interpret it.” “You’ve got the power.” And most of us would like to have that on our doors. “He has the power to interpret dreams. He has understanding in wisdom.” What did Joseph say to Pharaoh? What a time to take advantage of promoting yourself before the king. I mean, he’s in jail.

It’s a good time for him to tout his own abilities. But Joseph humbles himself. Everybody here, I’m convinced that if you were in the same situation it would be really tempting if you’ve been in prison and finally you’re before the pharaoh and he thinks you’ve got special powers and wisdom to say, “I’m glad you finally came to your senses. What am I doing in jail if I’ve got all this power and wisdom?” Joseph does not seize that opportunity. Instead he gives the glory to God. “Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, It is not in me.” “It’s not me.” “God, Jehovah, will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Same thing with Daniel. Daniel 2, he prays that God will give him wisdom to understand what Nebuchadnezzar has dreamed. God answers his prayer. And the guard, it’s kind of interesting, the guard that Daniel approaches, Daniel goes to the guard and he says, “Bring me to the king and I’ll tell him what his dream means.” Daniel found the guard, but when the guard goes in, you know, he’s an unconverted pagan guard. He acted like every one else.

The guard goes in before Nebuchadnezzar, he says, “I have found a man.” Made it look as though he had been searching all throughout the kingdom to find someone. “I finally found one. What reward do I get for finding a man?” Daniel found him. But look at the difference in the attitude of Daniel. “Daniel answered in the presence of the king and says, The secret that the king demanded the wise men, astrologers and magicians and soothsayers cannot declare to the king,” but I can. Is that what he says? No. He says, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets and he has made known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the last days.”

Daniel never uses the word I. You ever read through the gospel of John, the apostle of love? I told you at the beginning that love and humility go hand in hand. Pride and selfishness go hand in hand. John the apostle of love was also the apostle of humility. He used to be a son of thunder and his pride was so offended when Jesus was not welcomed into Samaria that James and he wanted to call fire down from heaven on those who did not appreciate and respect them.

When you read through his gospel he doesn’t even use his name. He says, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was so overwhelmed that Jesus would love him. He identifies himself as the disciple Jesus loved, the disciple that leaned on His breast. Then there was another disciple who outran Peter. He is so self-effacing because of his humility, because of his love for the Lord. Real wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom also springs from genuine humility. “The Christian someone said,” Thomas Guthrie said this, “The Christian is like ripening corn. The riper he grows the more lowly he bends his head.”

You can see the maturity of a Christian by how they begin to humble themselves. The more proud one is the more unconverted they are. F. B. Meyer said, “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other an the taller we grew in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and it’s not a question of growing taller, but stooping lower.” A preacher was waxing eloquent during the sermon one day, feeling very good about his ability. He heard a little girl lean over to her mother and say, “Mama, if we give him money will he let us go?” Embrace what humbles you. I read about Richard Nixon. You know he was Vice-President once before he was President and he had a story he loved to tell about while he was Vice-President. He went to a Boy Scout Jamboree there in Maryland and all the little Boy Scouts with their mothers came and stood next to the Vice-President. And then this one boy was standing there and his mother was snapping one picture after another and the boy said, “That’s enough, Mom.

He’s only a Vice-President.” And Nixon loved to tell that story. You know why? He was embracing what humbled him. You know, when you go through any kind of a humiliating experience if you embrace it and accept it and draw near it instead of becoming aggravated by it the pain dissipates. Like that example I just was sharing with you. Well let’s talk for a moment. How can we foster humility? I’ve been talking about what the Bible says about humbling ourselves. What can you do to humble yourself? You ever gone out on a clear night and looked up at the cream of the stars in a clear sky and begin to ponder how big space is? I understand that the amount of the heavens that we can see, even with the Hubble Telescope, is the equivalent of what an amoeba can see when he floats in the ocean. You got that? The universe is so big and we are so small. I remember reading one time when Thomas Roosevelt was on a hunting expedition with one of his friends who was royalty. They sat out under the stars and looked a the heavens for a long time and then Roosevelt said, “Well, I think we’re small enough now.

We can go to sleep.” When we were at General Conference. I went to Niagara Falls about 15 years ago. I hadn’t been there in a while. Karen and I and Bonnie and Ed we took our rental car and went to Niagara Falls. And what I really wanted to do was get on this boat called the Maid of the Mist. Some of you know what that is? They’ve got these boats that you can get on. You’ve got to get a raincoat because there’s so much spray that’s generated from the falls when you approach it in this boat that if you don’t wear the raincoat you’re just completely saturated. I was looking at all that water, just a mountain, a virtual mountain of water thundering off that precipice and crashing below and the spray and the rainbows it created above. John and Angie Lomacain went on the Maid of the Mist and they said later, “Oh, you should have done it.” They said, “You should have done it.

All we could think was, ‘How great Thou art.’” They felt so small when you get down. You know, we were up at the top looking down at it. They went down below the falls and looked up. It’s a whole different perspective. And you see the water crashing down and you realize how vulnerable you are and how puny you are. So one of the ways that you can feel puny; no, one of the ways that you can help embrace humility is look at the creation of God. Look at how big He is. And it’s not only the telescope looking up and vertical. Look at a microscope and you can see the greatness of God. And you understand we’re so small and yet He loves us so much.

You’ve heard of counting your blessings when you become ungrateful. It’s not always wrong to chronicle your flaws and ask for God’s mercy. The Bible does talk about confessing your sins. You’ve heard me say before that I think we treat confession in a very flippant, shallow way. The kind of confession I find in the Bible is the kind that’s more thorough. It’s the kind like where David spent seven days on his face after sinning with Bathsheba. Today people sin like David and they defend themselves. And they say, “Oh well, you know, nobody’s perfect.” David did not make excuses. It’s a good idea for us to get before the Lord quietly and say, “Lord, show me my sins.” The Bible tells us it’s healthy periodically to do that. “Search me, try me. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Lord, show me. Where am I letting you down?”

Then write down on a piece of paper what those things are. It had a humbling i8nfluence. You know one thing it does? It makes it very hard for you to be critical against others when you see how much God has forgiven you. And then finally, look to Jesus. Christ said, “If I am lifted up I will draw all men.” I believe it’s also safe to say that if we look to Christ lifted up we will be humbled. He’s our example. Look to the cross. Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself.” Now you’ve heard me say it several times. You notice how consistent it is through the word? Humble yourself; humble yourself; humble yourself; humble yourself. Don’t say, “God, humble me.” You must choose to humble yourself. Jesus humbled Himself. And it says, “He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

So when you look at the cross and you know why He’s hanging there. Why is He hanging there? For our sins. What do we have to be proud of? Think about it. What gift do you have that God hasn’t given you? What gift do you have that God could not take away tomorrow if He chose? Job lost everything in a day and it could happen to you and me. We have nothing to be proud of, friends. Amen? We need to learn that spirit and attitude that was in the patriarchs and prophets that every good and perfect gift comes from God. And we need to remember to give Him the glory and the credit. And ultimately when Christ was preparing to go to the cross that’s when He really humbled Himself. He completely put aside His desires and His position. And when He prayed, “Not my will; thy will be done,” three times, “Not my will; thy will be done,” He knew He was getting ready to enter into the most humiliating experience that any human could ever even imagine. To have people spit on you and mock you, punch you, beat you.

The devil did everything he could to see if there was a shred of pride in Jesus. And through those hours between the betrayal and the cross the devil did everything he could to have Jesus retaliate. If there was any pride in His being it would have come out then. But what did Jesus do? He blessed His persecutors. He embraced what humbled Him. He forgave those who crucified Him. And if you want to learn lessons of humility they’re best learned at the foot of the cross, friends. Amen? They’re also learned in Gethsemane that we might pray with Jesus, “Lord, not my will, but thy will be done.” That we submit ourselves to God as James says. That we humble ourselves and He will lift us up. God doesn’t want us; keep us crawling around like worms.

He wants to lift us up, but we must first humble ourselves, acknowledge our sins, remember to give Him the glory and then He will do that, friends. Amen? Embrace what humbles you. You’ll increase wisdom. You’ll prolong peace. You’ll postpone judgment. You’ll multiply conversions. You’ll increase opportunities for God to use you in your respective gifts. The creed of heaven is humility and love. The slogan of hell is pride and selfishness. And today if you’d like to cast your vote on Jesus’ side why don’t you reach for your hymnal. We’re going to sing the closing song. It’s five; help me, 567? Is that right? Let’s stand together and we’ll sing.


I would expect that if you’re anything like me that the devil taunts and tempts you to respond because your pride is offended. Maybe you’ve worked somewhere for a while and you don’t feel like you received the promotion you deserved. You’ve been passed by. Maybe you don’t get the credits that you feel you deserve or the appreciation and you’re tempted to allow your pride to be wounded. I’d like to submit that you embrace what humbles you. As you do that you’ll find peace in your soul. When you can say, “Not I, but Christ. Not my will, but thy will be done.” It’s got a wonderful liberating influence on your heart.

Just takes the stress and agony and makes it evaporate to realize that you’re God’s problem, you’re His property and now you’re problems are His problems. Amen? When you humble yourself before the Lord you’re casting your cares on Him. You’re not trying to defend yourself; you’re letting Him do it. You become His business and His trouble and He’ll give you peace. Would you like to make that decision today? “Lord, I’m going to embrace what humbles me and accept your will.” Let’s sing verse three and four.


I feel impressed before we sing the last verse. There may be some here today who, you’re questioning where you stand with the Lord. You know the Bible says, “Humble yourself and you’ll receive grace from God.” Well you can come now. Maybe you’ve been standing in the position of the Pharisee and you’re ready to take the attitude and posture of the publican and you’d like to come this morning and know that your sins are forgiven. We’d like to invite you to come to the front. There may be others who have been struggling with some offense in their life or some area where they know that their pride has been a battle. And perhaps you’d like to say, “Lord, I’m letting go of this. I’m going to embrace what humbles me.”

Maybe you’ve been feeling like you’re going through some discipline with God and you’re wanting to draw near the one and take hold of the hand that holds the rod. You’d like to come to the front now we want to have special prayer for you. And so, let’s pull together as a family. Let’s humble ourselves and I believe the Lord will lift us up and we will see this church explode with souls who know the Lord. Is that your prayer, friends? Let’s pray as we sing verse four.


I hope you’ll understand that, especially after this message, it’s probably appropriate. If you’re able let’s kneel as we close with prayer.

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