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Humility Matters

Proverbs 22:4 ESV

4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

I think that verse stopped me in my tracks because it reminded me that I am a prideful person. I admit to you that I am proud, but I would like to be more humble because Jesus was humble.

I actually think most of us would like to be more humble. Everything in our culture wants us to be proud. Proud of our country, kids, work, and even church. But this verse reminds me that we must be humble if we are going to experience true riches.

The theme of humility is throughout the book of Proverbs. You don’t have to get very far to find out the pride is no what God wants from us.

Even outside the book of proverbs we are told this truth.

Matthew 23:12 CEV

12 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

or what about James comments on the issue:

James 4:6 CEV

6 In fact, God treats us with even greater kindness, just as the Scriptures say, “God opposes everyone who is proud, but he is kind to everyone who is humble.”

Ezekiel records what God says will happen for the humble:

Ezekiel 21:26 CEV

26 I, the Lord God, command you to take off your royal turban and your crown, because everything will be different. Those who had no power will be put in charge, and those who now rule will become nobodies.

Pride accomplishes the opposite of what we desire: it humiliates us. But humility gets us were we want to be: it honors us.

Seems backwards right?

Think about makes sense.

When we see a person who is full of himself and drawing attention to himself, what do we feel inside? Don’t we want to cut him down to size, at least a little?

And when we see someone else who is humble and lifting others up and doing a great job without expecting any thanks, don’t we want to see him get some credit?

He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted—even for us, but far more with God. We walk into a better future not through self-exaltation but through humility before Christ.

I think we need to define humility.

What is humility?

I think in plain english we could say that humility happens when we don’t put ourselves first.

Here are a few verses we’ve read in proverbs that teach us how to accomplish humility in our lives.

Proverbs 1:7 ESV

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10 ESV

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 22:4 ESV

4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

The fear of the Lord goes hand in hand when it comes to humility.

The fear of the Lord is us recognizing God’s character and responding by revering, trusting, worshiping, obeying, and serving Him.

In order words, when we fear the Lord, we put Him first. Above ourselves in all areas.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have self-esteem. That’s important to love yourself, but if you want to live in wisdom then you must put God first in your life.

The truth is that our Self-Esteem isn’t enough. We need to find ourselves in Christ.

When we start feeling the difference between self-esteem and Christ-esteem—that is when the idol of Self is losing its grip and Christ is saving us. It is the beginning of a whole new life.

This is hard because we have this desire for self-pity, we are over-emotional, we are clingy, manipulative, and calculating. We are prideful.

Here’s a bit of good news. We do not come to Christ because we are humble. We come to Christ because we are proud, and he receives us and loves us and helps us in our pride.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” but the grace of the Lord is the beginning of the fear of the Lord. Jesus said in his parable of the wedding feast,

Matthew 22:4 CEV

4 He sent other servants to say to the guests, “The banquet is ready! My cattle and prize calves have all been prepared. Everything is ready. Come to the banquet!”

He did not say we are ready; he said the banquet is ready.

So come. Don’t worry if you are humble enough. You’re not. Neither am I. But all of us can go to Christ right now, and moment by moment, because he promises everyone who comes to him riches and honor and life.

Let your heart be melted by the grace of Christ. That is humility—all the humility you need to come into his feast.

Humility is honoring God. Revering God. Worshiping God.

Why does humility matter?

Well, let’s ask wise King Solomon.

Proverbs 28:14 ESV

14 Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

The Hebrew word for “fears” in this proverb is different from the word in “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” This word in 28:14 is more intense. It means to tremble, to shiver, to shake.

You may remember doing this to your parents or you might remember when one of your kids did this to you.

Something has been done wrong and deserves a punishment, but when it comes time to receive the punishment the kid basically is so upset that they say, bring it on!

I know one of my kids wouldn’t clean their room. I told them, they could clean their room or else they will be grounded for a week. Their response was that they would take the week!

Well, I made it three weeks! And the room got clean.

We do this to God when we don’t reverence Him. We think the crime is better than the punishment.

The warning here is that when we harden our hearts we will find ourselves in worse shape.

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.

Oswald Chambers:

Why should we remain humble? Because God is worthy and we aren’t! He deserves our humility and requires it! When we aren’t humble we invite disaster in our lives.

Proverbs 18:12 CEV

12 Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.

Proverbs 29:23 CEV

23 Too much pride brings disgrace; humility leads to honor.

These verses summarize the entire message of the Bible: humility comes before honor. Remember Jesus? The cross came before the crown.

We should take this message and apply it to every area of our lives.

The apostle Peter saw this pattern through the entire old testament; then he looked at the life of Jesus and came to a conclusion:

1 Peter 1:10–12 NLT

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

His conclusion was that Christ was to suffer, to humble Himself, before the great glory of resurrection. Peter’s entire first letter was about first having humility and then honor.

Our suffering is not worthy the name of suffering. When I consider my crosses, tribulations, and temptations, I shame myself almost to death; thinking what are they in comparison to the sufferings of my blessed Savior Christ Jesus.

- Martin Luther

We’d sure rather skip the suffering and humility and get right to the honor wouldn’t we?

We’d love to pass the test without first having to study.

But that’s not life. That’s not reality. That’s not humility.

Everybody wants to write the next mega-hit. Everybody wants a place in the Hollywood Walk of Fame or the Guinness Book of World Records or whatever. Nobody wants to be a zero.

For a person created in the image of God to be a zero is unbearable. And God himself wants to honor us.

Romans 8:30 NKJV

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

God want’s you to be glorified - that’s part of the plan. It’s not our pride to want something more in life, that’s the grace of God! We don’t deserve it, but He wants good things for us.

He’s not out to make you mediocre; he is out to make you glorious!

But there’s a strange way to get you there.

I read it just a few minutes ago: Humility leads to honor.

This world seems like it’s spinning on it’s own. The truth is that it’s not - God is in control. He has a plan for the world and He has a plan for you.

Your life might not look like much right now, but don’t worry about it. If you are trusting God for your SIGNIFICANCE, keep on trusting. He has you right where you’re supposed to be.

Humility means you’re trusting Christ with your life. Let Him lift you up at the right times.

I can’t help but to think about King Nebuchadnezzar. This King had it all. His life was amazing. No person living would have dared to challenge him. They couldn’t imagine him being humbled because he was so great.

The Bible and God have no problem with people having authority and dominion on the earth. In fact, that’s how God wanted it to be from the beginning of time.

It’s only when we lose our humility does God have a problem.

Daniel 5:20 CEV

20 But when he became proud and stubborn, his glorious kingdom was taken from him.

Here is a prayer God will never refuse: “Lord, keep me in your humility. Keep me down low before you, where I belong.”

Humility is the safest place for every one of us. I find it good for me sometimes, when I pray, to get down on my face.

Not just on my knees—down on my face, as low as I can get.

It is contrary to my pride, but that lowest place is where I belong before the Most High God. It is also the place of blessing.

We need to be absolutely and totally deliberate in our handling of our pride. Mainly, because we don’t see our own pride most of the time.

Proverbs 16:2 ESV

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Pride feels normal. We trust in our own minds. We feel innocent. We feel more sinned against than sinning.

The scariest thing about us is our self-assurance is that we are not alarmed by ourselves. The on-ramps to the interstate of death have no warnings, no signs, no flashing red lights. But God is telling us. We need to pay attention.

Proverbs 14:12 CEV

12 You may think you are on the right road and still end up dead.

Paul reminds us that we are people made of flesh and our desires will mess us up if we allow them to rule us.

Romans 8:7CEV

7 Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws.

How do we escape the pull of that? We humble ourselves enough to recognize we need daily union with Christ in His word.

The Bible is a more reliable guide away from death and toward life than our own intuitions.

The Bible warns us away from death that feels like life and toward life that sometimes feels like death.

Which do you trust more—your hunches or the Bible? Humility before the Bible is a matter of life and death. That’s why humility matters.

How do we know if we are walking in Humility?

Proverbs 13:13 CEV

13 If you reject God’s teaching, you will pay the price; if you obey his commands, you will be rewarded.

Proverbs 15:31 CEV

31 Healthy correction is good, and if you accept it, you will be wise.

Proverbs 28:13 CEV

13 If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful if you confess your sins and give them up.

There are three words in these incredible verses of wisdom that we need to see: Obey, accept, and confess.

Humility obeys the word

of God, but pride despises it. When we read the Word we must remember that God is trying to speak to us, don’t dismiss verses. Seek our the meaning. It’s worth understanding that the Lord is telling you. Studying and obeying the word is an act of humility.

Humility accepts or listens to correction. We don’t like being corrected. But we need our feathers ruffled. It gives life.

When was the last time you said to someone you trust, “Help me see myself. How can I improve?” If you are not in any relationship where you trust anyone enough to open up like that and then really listen, there is a reason. The reason is not that you cannot find someone good enough for you; the reason is your pride. But humbly listening to trusted correction is essential to entering into the community of the wise.

Humility confesses and leaves behind sin. We would rather save face. But it is so freeing to confess our sins, especially to one another! When we confess and forsake our sins, we obtain mercy. The Hebrew word translated “mercy” is related to the word for a mother’s womb. Why? Because God has a soft spot in his heart for sinners who open up and come clean. God envelops us in his tenderness and warmth when we confess and forsake our sins.

How does a humble person live life? They obey the word, accept correction, and they confess sin.

The last thing I want to speak

to you about tonight is a short thing.

How can we find humility?

We find it in the example of our Saviour.

Philippians 2:6–11 CEV

6 Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7 He gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8 Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. 9 Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others. 10 So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11 And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Humility began in Heaven. We did not invent it. The Son of God revealed it. We lift ourselves up. The Son of God stepped down. Nothing is too good for us. Nothing was too low for the Son of God. We make ourselves big deals. The Son of God made himself nothing. We measure out our obedience one inch at a time, to keep control. The Son of God became obedient to the point of death, even

death on a cross, for you and me.

And this humble God loves us proud sinners. He even wants to share his glory with us, and on terms of grace. The only price we pay is the loss of foolish ego.

Proverbs 22:4 NKJV

4 By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life.

What new step of self-humbling is God calling you to take as you follow his Son? Whatever it is, he will honor you as you take that next step. After humility, there is honor. After the cross comes a crown.

Risk everything on God’s faithful promise. He will be true to you.


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