- Sermon Notes
God’s Portrait of Humility
January 23, 2022
We continue our study of Philippians this week. Much is made of Paul writing his church letters from prison and how he found himself there. In regards to the city of Philippi, a major city of commerce, he and Silas encounter a woman named Lydia. She was a seller of purple fabrics, expensive wares, and she was listening to Paul and the Lord opened her heart to receive Christ. She and her household were baptized.
As we track on this story, it takes a terrible turn, but God takes tragedy and turns it into triumph. Once again, He brings beauty out of ashes.
What happened?! A certain slave girl, a fortune-teller, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling, was following after Paul and his companions and she kept crying out…
Acts 16:17, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you a way of salvation.”
Finally Paul became annoyed. He turned and rebuked the demon spirit upon her, “I command you in the name of Je-sus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out that very moment.
When her master saw their hope of profit was gone, they took hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the chief magistrates, and said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which is not lawful for us to accept or observe, being Ro-mans.”
A crowd rose up against them so the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to have them beaten with rods. When they had inflicted many blows they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely.
Around midnight, Tired and bloody, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God and the prison-ers were listening to them.
What happened? The only explanation is they carried with them the heart of God.
Suddenly, there came a great earthquake and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfas-tened. The jailer took out his sword to kill himself, suppos-ing the prisoners had escaped, but Paul stopped him. Trem-bling with fear, the jailer fell down before Paul and Silas and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
That very hour the jailer took them to his home and washed their wounds and he and his entire household received the word of God and were baptized; having believed.
I. Humility is Godly Maturity
Paul knew there was encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and affection and compas-sion in the church; that’s a wonderful thing, but Paul wants more.
“Make my joy complete,” Paul wrote, by uniting in spirit and love, intent on one purpose.
Philippians 1:6, He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
In order for us to grow in our faith and in the maturity of Christ, we need to have an attitude of humility. Important because…
We weren’t born this way; we were born completely selfish and self-centered. Something has to change, there has to come a shift from how we were born to what God wants us to become.
Paul begins with any encouragement you have, have the same mindset as Jesus – nothing selfish, consider others more important and don’t just look at your own interests.
A portrait of how Jesus carried this out – His complete lack of selfishness and humility. We are to have the same mindset as Jesus. Apply it to kids, spouses, co-workers, all those in relationship with us.
When we come to the Lord’s table in Communion, we should be reminded us of His humility – and He tells us to participate in communion in remembrance of Him.
A. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit
What a remarkable statement because it’s completely oppo-site of our human nature. We were born completely selfish and self-centered and it’s very common for people to con-tinue in that state the rest of their lives.
God is speaking about this because He knows that selfish-ness and empty conceit do not make a person’s soul fulfilled, or happy, or blessed.
Illustration – Have you ever met a spoiled child? We have another word for it, “a spoiled brat.” Why? Because they are not happy and no one around them is either.
I’m sure you recognize how unhappy and unhealthy a marriage would be if both people were always selfish? We men-tor new couples more about falling in love with Jesus to help them avoid the selfish trap we all bring to some degree to our relationships.
Can you imagine how unhappy and unhealthy a church would be if everyone was self-focused and self-centered? This is a wonderful church! It’s been home to our family for 25 years.
Never in my years as one of your Elders have I experienced an Elder presenting a selfish idea or opinion and pushing that position. Actually what I have experienced is when a topic is unresolved, one of us then suggests we table it and continue to be in prayer until God makes it more clear in the future. How refreshing! What a blessing!
Did you consider anyone more important than yourself this morning? That’s what this passage, that’s who Jesus is and Paul illustrates that for us. Do we resemble Jesus at all, his humbling before others.
When I don’t feel well, I wake up and think about…ME… My sister is fighting cancer, I have couples and individuals under my counsel that I should be thinking and praying about.
James 3:16-17, For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wis-dom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, rea-sonable, full of mercy and good fruits…
B. Regard others as more important than yourself
We are now touching on one of the deepest most important issues to the heart of God for us.
• If we can take hold of this and truly apply it to our lives, we have taken hold of one of God’s deepest truths.
If pride and selfishness is the root and foundation of all that is sinful and hurtful, then humility is the root and foundation of all that is good and godly.
Paul writes that humility in mind is what allows a person to regard others as more important than himself.
What is humility in mind?
One definition might be, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
However, that’s not a common attitude is it?
Why should we regard others as more important than our-selves if it’s not the natural way of thinking? Answer; be-cause it’s the spiritual way of thinking.
Matthew 23:11-12, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
In other words, humility is part of faith.
If you believe God’s word, then you believe that these principles are empowered by God Himself.
Illustration – Workplace
James 4:6, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
James 4:10, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Those who exalt themselves, will be humbled; God will see to that Himself.
Although it’s more fun telling examples about some of my friends here at Calvary, I’ll give you one about myself I’m not proud of.
Illustration – College Baseball
C. Jesus is our example
Have the mind of Christ. He Himself is the example of the attitude of heart that God will bless.
• We forget that God calls us to be more like Him…it’s not about coming to church – ask yourself, do I resemble Him and His actions – that’s what we are called to do.
We would be mistaken if we think it is enough to check off the box that we are a Christian.
Humble yourselves in the sight of God and He will lift you up. Jesus sat at the right hand of the Father and, although He existed in the very nature of God, He did not consider equality with God a thing to be held on to, but emptied Him-self; He set aside those privileges and took on the form of a bondservant.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
By His death, and by His suffering, our sins were paid in their entirety. In other words, He did it for us.
What humility, what love, what maturity of Spirit! He is our example. Jesus embodies the perfect definition of maturity. Immaturity is favoring one’s self at the expense of others. We’re all familiar with that because we’ve done it many times.
Maturity is favoring others at the expense of self and there is no greater example of that than Jesus Christ Himself.
And because Jesus humbled himself so profoundly, the prin-ciple holds true, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.
He asks us to follow His example.
Jesus didn’t just lower Himself to become a man, He low-ered Himself to become a servant.
Illustration – Here is God’s heart, “I wash feet.” You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “I don’t do windows.” What does that mean? It means, I won’t lower myself to that. Je-sus washed the feet of the disciples as an example. Imagine how dirty folks feet were and the position of the person cho-sen to wash.
John 13:8, 14, Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.…If I then, the Lord and the Teach-er, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus washed Peter’s feet, knowing he would deny Him. He washed Thomas’s feet, knowing he would doubt Him; He washed Judas’ feet, knowing he would betray Him.
II. God is at work in you
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Notice he didn’t say work for your salvation; he said to work out your salvation. In other words, God has given the gift of salvation, of righteousness, of grace and kindness; let that now work its way into every area of your life.
God is at work in you, Paul wrote. He who began a good work will complete it.
God doesn’t just give us the gift of salvation and then say, “Wonderful, welcome to the kingdom, be sure to visit me twice a year, I look forward to seeing you at Christmas and Easter.”
God loves you so much that not only does He give you the gift of eternal life, He also gives you the gift of a transformed life; and He won’t quit until the day you meet Him face-to-face.
A. Honor God by resisting the grumbling
Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Given the world we live in, we virtually find this challenging every day.
Look at these times of ours – what we believe in is becoming more and more mocked – standards of morality, education for our kids, power and control on the part of men/women in politics, our neighbor to the north, Canada, began putting restraints on a pastor’s teaching. These things do not require silence!
Our text says we are in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation…then it challenges us to shine as lights in the world.
Illustration – we tell young couples that there is no better time than now that if they will invest in their Godly marriage, mature in their faith individually, it won’t be long be-fore other couples seek them out for advice.
Matthew 5:16, Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
B. Humility comes before honor
Jesus’ humility can be summed up this way for all of us.
Sacrifice – Jesus emptied Himself, He sacrificed for all. He chose voluntarily to be a carpenter. So what are we willing to give up for those we are in relationship with.
Servant – another step down in terms of humility – Jesus is always serving and healing – are we above certain tasks?
Submission – Jesus was obedient to the Father, even in death – He surrendered His will. How much are we willing to submit to our heavenly Father?
Suffering – Death on the cross so we could inherit eternal life. Life isn’t intended to be easy. How do we handle incon-venience or suffer for the gospel? How do we grow and demonstrate God’s portrait of humility?
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any [a]affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing [c]from [d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be [f]grasped, 7 but [g]emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and [h]being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death [i]on a cross. 9 For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to [j]desire and to work for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without complaining or arguments; 15 so that you will [k]prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you [l]appear as [m]lights in the world, 16 holding firmly the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I can take pride because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.