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A Matter of Humility

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(10/13) Okay, how many Duck Dynasty watchers do we have in here? How many of you have seen the first show of the new fall season? It was the one in which the family of Phil and Ms. Kay planned a wedding renewal ceremony for their 48th anniversary. Do you remember the scene in which the sons were discussing who should be the best man? It couldnít be Allan because he was officiating, so, Jason thought since he was the next born, the honor should be his. Willie thought that since he was the Duck Commander CEO, the honor should be his, and Jed, thought that he was the baby and his motherís favorite, the honor should be his. Remember? Phil however picked his brother Si over his sons. Well, that little comedy is reality TV and really shows how we think sometimes. Because of who we are, or what we have done, we deserve a little higher position in this life or in the one to come. Perhaps like the older son in the story of the two sons in Luke 15, we feel we deserve more attention for our faithfulness than that which some sinner receives when he comes back after snubbing God and the church? Ever feel that way? Well that is another sermon.

Letís do a little recap. Chapter 15 we looked at last week is all about the heart. That is the area of life that God is most interested in; not our traditions, rituals, or religion. In Matthew 16, Jesus has asked lifeís most important question, and Peter gave the right answer. Jesus praised him for his response. Then Jesus told them, straight up, the exact details of the mission they were on and how it would result in the cross and empty tomb. Peter, however, said, "Unh, uh, ainít no way." Our Lord than responded, that His greatest allies can also be His greatest enemies when they seek manís ways instead of Godís. To follow Jesus means total and absolute surrender, a white flag, self-denial, and a cross. It means to submit to being a soldier, a servant, a student, and a son of God. You just have two choices. Godís stuff or manís stuff. Pick your goal and go for it. Sadly, many people forfeit eternity, or eternityís rewards for the temporary rewards of this life. I donít know who said it but, someone said, "I never heard a man on his death bed say, ĎI wish I had sent more time with my business."

Then, in Matt. 17, there was the mount of transfiguration and the man with the demon possessed son that the disciples couldnít help the lesson of fasting, prayer and faith. The end of Matthew 17 (v. 27) is about a temple tax that all Hebrew males were required to pay. Our Lord Jesus told Peter to go fishing with a rod and reel, and the first fish he caught would have a coin in its mouth that would be sufficient to pay both Peterís and His own tax. I have often read this verse and asked God where to go fishing, especially at tax time. "Lord, just show me here to fish." That brings us to chapter 18 where we will camp for today and the next 3 weeks. We will look at the Matter of Humility, the Matter of Hell, the Matter of Honesty, and the Matter of Heart-given Forgiveness.

"At that time," the text begins. We have to use our imaginations but it would seem probable that they were in Capernaum, it was temple tax time, and they were most likely at Peterís home, maybe its family dinner time (I canít get that Duck Dynasty Dinner scene, or Blue Bloods dinner scene out of my mind). He had just told them again (second time, Luke 9:44) that He would be betrayed into the hands of evil men. But it was like they werenít listening? "Did you guys just hear what I said?" An argument starts (Luke 9:46) about who is the most honored, and who is the odds on favorite for the top positions in Godís kingdom that surely was just around the corner. It was so close they could taste it. They had been part of preaching its nearness and showing signs of its evidence (Matt. 10). Mark 9:33 says that when Jesus asked what the ruckus was about, they all kept quiet like little kids, embarrassed that they were caught. Our Lord then gives them an object lesson to emphasize 6 points:

I. Unless You are Converted and Become as Little Children You cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (v.3). Perhaps from a member of Peterís family, Jesus calls a child. The word child implies, a small toddler. This had to be a child that was familiar and comfortable with Jesus. As the child came and stood with Him. The first of the six lessons recalls, that no one comes to God because of their merit. A child is conceived and born by the parents. Just so, a person is conceived by God, and is given new life when that person repents, turns, and gets a heart make-over by God. Listen to me carefully, this is John 3, born again stuff. It is more than easy believe-ism, more than a prayer, more than believing in your head the reality of God, and the life and death of Jesus. I had a conversation with a lady last week about the difference in believing the facts to go to heaven and being born again. James 2:19 reminds us that salvation is more than just believing the facts. You must trust and rest your faith in the person and finished work of Jesus.

Perhaps since the child was there, there were also members of their families or friends that needed to know this stuff, or they needed this reminder. To turn or be converted implies realizing oneís spiritual bankruptcy, oneís guilt, oneís inability to save oneís self, and realizing His Lordship, and humbly submitting to it. It doesnít matter how much you go to church, how much you give, or how much you know, or how much you have done. If you do not turn from your sinful self and turn to God and be born again and like a child learn to live life Godís way, you will never, ever see Godís Kingdom, nor will the ones you love. You have nothing to boast about before God as Romans 4:2-4 reminds us, "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt." Ephesians 2:8-9 also says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast." Do you understand this? This is the first lesson, our Lord wants these guys to remember. You did not earn nor deserve, your salvation. It is entirely a gift of God and no one will receive this gift who does not turn and repent and receive it as a gift from God.

II. The Greatest in the Kingdom are the Humblest. (v. 4) Luke says they were arguing, like the Robertson men, who deserves what position? James and John may have thought that they were invited to the mount of transfiguration and maybe they were cousins of Jesus. It appears that their mother and Mary may have been sisters, which makes sense when their mother asks Jesus in Ch. 20 to have her boys as #1 and #2 in the kingdom. You know that blood is thicker than water, right? Perhaps Peter said, "Well, I walked on water to Him, and was on the Mount of Transfiguration also, and I gave Him the right answers, and I have become the speaker of the group. I deserve to be #1." Maybe Andrew said, "I was the first to follow Him and you all are here because of me." Maybe Judas said, "Well, itís me He trusts with the money bag." I can almost hear Mohammed Ali saying, "I am the greatest." Can you? But Jesus says, the greatest is the one who assumes the lowest positions. Thatís what the word humble implies, to be made or to be low. Jesus is saying that the way up is down. Another paradox of Christianity. Like this toddler. Not perfect, but he or she responds to parents voice, trusts the parents, is unpretentious, no hidden agendas, no ambition for position, recognizes his or her dependence on the parent for care, necessities, protection, and arenít afraid to cry out for the parents help in any of these areas. In fact, they run to the parent when they are scared or in need. But letís get this straight, guys listen up, He is not calling men to be weak or sissies, He is saying that real men donít need to promote themselves. Their lives and the words of others will do that for them. Like Prov. 27:2 says, "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." God will honor the one who honors Him by serving others and seeking their reward from God. Thatís exactly what Paul is telling is and encouraging us to do in Phil. 2:1-9. Look at it. "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." There is no pride in an infant or toddler. These will be honored for their greatness in our Fatherís kingdom. This is why John the Baptist is called the greatest ever. His mantra was, "He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease."

III. Whoever Welcomes/Receives a Child of God Welcomes/Receives Jesus (v.5). The child standing beside Jesus has become an object lesson and pictures a true follower of Jesus regardless of age. The word welcomes or receives, means to welcome into oneís home as an honored guest. Itís when you are truly gracious and hospitable to someone who is visiting with you. Listen carefully, because Jesus is one with every believer, no exceptions, and because His Spirit lives in ever believer, no exceptions, how you treat any believer is how you are treating Jesus (cp. Matt. 25:31-40). Do you understand this? It doesnít matter their maturity or immaturity what you do or say about another believer our Father takes very personal. Some of my children donít always show their faith very well, but they are still my children and my heart, anything you say about them or do to them, touches me. When you honor them, you honor me. It doesnít matter if they go to your church, are in your circle, are as mature as you, or are involved as much as you. If they mess up, The Father has told us how to deal with it (Vv. 15-20), but bottom line, He will deal with them (Heb. 12). How gracious are you towards Christ followers? Towards those who rub you wrong? Paul says in Eph. 4:1-2 that we are to "forebear one another in love."

IV. Whoever causes a child of God to stumble/sin is in severe danger (6-9). The pride and arrogance that the disciples were displaying were dangerous, because it was setting a tone, a precedent that was not Christ-like. For young believers to pick this up and imitate would be sin. Likewise, the jealousy and envy that they were displaying. Jesus was not like this and those who follow Him are not be like this either. You need to read this carefully and understand. When you ignore Godís word, when you choose your ways over Godís ways, your children and your neighbors and your Christian family sees. When they imitate or walk away from Christ because they donít see Jesus in you. You will be held accountable. Thatís why pastors and teachers should be make so sure that what they are preaching is Godís word and not their own. James 3:1 says that we are held to a higher standard, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Our Lord says, it would be better to die a violent death than to have hypocrisy affect young Christians, or children. This millstone death was another form of Roman execution. We are to live our lives in a manner that attracts people to Jesus and not turns them away. Pride, jealousy, envy, selfishness, and arrogance, are but a few of the things that people see in us and say, "There is enough of that in the world, if that is Christ, I donít need it." Our Lord says, we expect this behavior from the world, not from the church, not from the family. Zechariah reminds us that anyone, "who touches His family touches the apple of His eye," (Zech. 2:8). Or, they say, "If he or she does it, why shouldnít I."

"Oh, be careful little mouth what you say, Oh be careful little hands what you do, Oh be careful little feet where you goÖ." More about this next week. But know this now, God will (sooner or later) discipline His children when they donít repent of their sin and arrogance. Do you understand this?

V. Whoever looks down their nose on a child of God offends the Father (vv.10-11). The word, despise, means to look down upon, or to think down about somebody as inferior; to consider them worthless. It means to make yourself look better by putting someone else down. Again, God is zealous and jealous for all His children. He created each one special, and for a special purpose (Ephesians 2:10). They are accountable to Him, your job is to love them as brothers and sisters, not to judge them by your standards. These little ones maybe children as we will see in 4 weeks or they probably refer to young believers, new Christians, those who need to mature in their faith and knowledge. Anytime you think we think we are better than another believer because of the church we attend, the version of the Bible we read, the music we listen to, the denomination we associate with, the cloths we wear, the ministries we offer, we are looking down at others. Any time, we think we have done our part, others should now do theirs so I can do nothing, or anytime we think a ministry is beneath us, anytime we withhold help from a Christian whether at home or abroad, we are arrogant and our Lord warns us against this. His reason is that there are angels waiting expectantly, staring at His face like a retriever waiting to hear, "Fetch," so he can leap from the blind or boat and get the duck. I donít know if everyone has a guardian angel or that all the angels who are designed to minister to Godís children (Heb. 1:14) are waiting for the command to help those in need, or to discipline Godís children who look down their noses. Listen carefully, God will use angels, both the good ones and the bad ones to discipline his children. They are waiting Godís command. Do you understand this? These are Godís children, donít look down your nose at them, or He will discipline you because you are His child too, and He loves you too much to let you do that.

VI. The Father deeply cares about all His children (vv.11-14). Verse 11 is missing from some your Bibles not from the KJV or NKJV, but it is perfectly aligned with Luke 19:10 and the 15:4. The lost are both those who have not been born again, and the children who have wandered off, back-slidden, or are without knowledge or a teacher. The point here is simply this, God cares about each of His children and He wants His children to care for each other as much as He does. When someone is missing, God searches, relentlessly, until he or she is found. He never lets go. Jesusí mission is to save and to sanctify children for God, He wants that to be your mission as well. Remember John 21? If you love Jesus you will nurture and love and feed His sheep. If seeking to do nothing, or seeking a position is more important than caring for Godís children, you have missed the point. Paul says in Romans 12:3, "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith," and again in Gal. 6:3, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." In Matthew 20:25-27 and Mark 10:45, "But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slaveó 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

The way up is down, greatness is measured by humility, letting God boast on you as He did Job or by the praise of others for your servant-hood as Paul did Timothy and Epaphroditus in Phil. 2 when he said that these are men of proven Christ-like character.

Do you think servant-hood is beneath you?

Any Christians that you are looking down on?

Any character traits or actions or words that make Christians stumble or sin or cause them to say, "Who needs this?"

Any position that you are saying deserves to be yours?

Maybe itís a good time to do a little soul searching and lay your pride on the altar of Godís forgiveness and grace. Maybe you need to gather your children or write a note and apologize for thinking you were better some way. Maybe you need to forgive and forget and look for a way to serve the body. You want to be great, ask John, the way up is down. He must increase and you must decrease. May God bless you as you do.


2 Cor. 13:11-14, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen"

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman