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Acts 14:1-18

All About Staying Humble

  • Shawn Dean
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 01, 2022
  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

All About Staying Humble 
Acts 14:1-18                        
May 1, 2022

We’ve all experienced the awkward conversations with someone we just met when they do all of the talking about all the things they’ve done. You graciously listen and when you walk away they say, hey great chatting with you.

One of the signs of Christian maturity is when you and I are not that person.  To grow in our faith and in the maturity of Christ, we need to have an attitude of humility about ourselves.

Something has to change, there has to come a shift from how we were born to what God wants us to become.

Jesus is a portrait of how to carry this out. He has complete lack of selfishness and humility. We are to have the same mindset. Then apply it to our kids, spouses, co-workers and all those in relationship with us.

When we come to the Lord’s table in Communion this evening, we should be reminded of His humility – and He tells us to participate in communion in remembrance of Him.  Let’s remember that about Him as we look into this most important topic; staying humble.

Acts 14:1-18

I.  God Draws Us To Himself

v1, 3; Notice how Paul jumped in right out of the gates in this town. He wanted all to know about the Lord. He was doing all kinds of things to validate his message.

v2 – 5; He goes off to Derbe and Lystra and continues preaching

In Lystra, a man sitting crippled and Paul said, stand up on your feet. He stood up and walked. When they saw what Paul did people shouted, the Gods have come down on earth to us in human form.

Only explanation they could reference was their Greek Gods, so they named them Zeus (Barnabas) and Hermes (Paul). 

Barnabas the more senior and dignified, thus Zeus.

Paul, the chief speaker, in other words, all Paul did was talk so the name Hermes, the Greek messenger God.

Most of us know Hermes from the Roman name “Mercury.” If you are old enough you know that from the image on the dime.

 

A.  Godly maturity through humility

So far things sound good in our story, but then we come to v13.

Sacrifice was brought to the gates for Paul and Barnabas by the Priest of Zeus.  Again people treating him like a God. They would do whatever he said, but look what Paul did with this opportunity.

They tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, saying, “Men, why are you doing these things?” He used their success, not for themselves, but to turn them into God which we see in the verses following.

Paul and Barnabas took their honor and success and did not turn it into personal gain, but gave all the credit to God. It was difficult to keep the crowd from honoring them and giving sacrifices.

The text then reflected how Paul gave all credit and worship onto God. But as we see in v18 they still had difficulty restraining the crowd from offering sacrifices.

What do we do?

At first many say no thanks.  I really can’t take the credit for that. And as people press with their compliments, some say, well…ok thanks, that’s very nice of you, yes I was pretty good wasn’t I?  Not Paul and Barnabas, however.

B.  God exalts those who are humble

So, Paul is honorable and humble, what difference does that make in your life?

In my 60+ years of life, it was very difficult to go up the corporate ladder while at the same time maintaining an attitude of true humility. Many of you have experienced this same challenge or you will.

Reflect on your career ladders. Any of you men who attended the Christmas Steak Dinner heard a great story.

Humility was very difficult.  However, I was anchored in this church, I encouraged my wife to speak into my life, I had accountability and fellowship with other Christians in the community.

Do you have that?  Are you plugged into our Christian community or are you too busy with your work life, climbing whatever ladders are in front of you, perhaps at the expense of your spiritual life?

Humility may not be on your bucket list. I know it’s difficult, but I’ve walked in your shoes and I know pursuing Jesus is the only solution to battle pride and entitlement. Some of those ladders might take longer or God will show you not every ladder is best for you.

II.  Look Only To Jesus For Direction

Paul showed humility his entire life, with unbelievable success;  healing people, poisonous snakes bit him.  Amazing success, but no problem. Amazing humility through it all. 

How did he do it?  Shouldn’t we strive to  copy it?

Before we talk about staying humble, Let’s define it –

What isn’t it – it is not self deprecation, it is not self appreciation. Woe is me! That is not humility.

Jesus, the most humble human ever didn’t act this way. Real humility is purely an attitude, an outlook and perspective of how we see ourselves. That allows us to stay low to God.  Puffing ourselves up in that initial conversation I mentioned is not humility.

You might say, is a little bit of arrogance such a big deal?

Let’s ask Jesus.

Luke 18:14, I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Don’t ever get on the front end of this verse.  I’ve been there. It is not a good place to be. God will step in and humble you. Be on the back end of this verse and humble ourselves where God jumps in and exalts you.

How do we do it, how do we stay there when God sends us increasing levels of success? How did Paul do it?

Three very simple things Paul did to keep him humble.

A.  Remember where you came from

1 Timothy 1:13, even though I was previously a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

Paul had no allusions of where he came from – he was once profane and he killed people.

1 Timothy 1:15, It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

He was the worst, a bad guy.

Such an important principle for us to remember as we accomplish things in this life.  It helps us to stay humble remembering where we started.

What a mess we were in when Jesus picked us up. Don’t lose that awe, because when we lose the awe of what Jesus did for us, that’s the beginning of arrogance.

B.  Remember who got you where you are today

…I did this, I did that, look what I did, isn’t it amazing that I accomplished these things…if that is you, you’re in trouble now.

v12, Paul remembered who got him where he got to today.
Paul says when in comes to being the Apostle Paul, it’s not chance or good fortune, it’s the grace and mercy of God.

The mercy and grace of God (v14) got him where he was going. Same is true of us today, whether your success or notoriety – the reason we have that success, at any level, comes from God.

Some of you may say, wait a minute, I take offense to thinking I didn’t accomplished what I have on my own. I worked hard and I accomplished what I accomplished, not because of God. I worked hard to get what I accomplished.

A lot of people went to college or trade school, worked hard, stayed up late, worked really hard to build a business and they aren’t where you are today.  It’s not simply about working hard – it’s about God making a decision about where you are and where they are.

Many of my colleagues who own businesses tell me that their success came from decisions on the narrowest of margins. Some little things out of their control have made huge differences.  Who made those unknown, littlest of things, go their way.  Not you or I. 

Psalm 75:6-7, For not from the east, nor from the west, Nor from the desert comes exaltation; But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.

  • Not from the east or west, or you going to college, or from your hard work alone, but God puts down one from another.

God is the one who lifts some up and puts some down.  That’s an important weapon to staying humble. Remember who got you where you are today.

C.  Remember who gets the credit

Why does God allow some followers more success?

No!…Main reason is not so we have benefits of being successful. Main reason is not so we can enjoy comfort and affluence. It’s not so people tell us how wonderful we are. 

But rather to use those successes as a platform for God. Use them to turn the spotlight on to the mercy He’s shown in our lives.

1 Timothy 1:16, Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

He used Paul’s life as a platform to display Himself and He says as an example for those who believe in Him and receive eternal life.

Many can look at Paul and say, well I’m not as bad as Paul, I didn’t kill people, I didn’t punish Christians, if God can do that with Paul, he can certainly do it for me…it wasn’t about Paul but about using Paul’s life to draw credit and attention to his life.

That’s exactly what Paul did in Lystra – He ran out into the streets to announce, do not give me credit, give it to the living God. He deflected the credit to God.

When you and I, like Paul, dedicate ourselves to intentionally, deliberately, make sure the credit goes to God as your platform, He will give you more success so you can give credit to Him.

That’s what Paul did, intentionally gave God the credit.

Business success to God

Marriage to God

I know you may be thinking, how are you going to do that at Intel, walk around sounding cheesy, walk around the store I work in deflecting all compliments to God…it sounds self- righteous.

OK, sometimes it’s best to graciously take the compliment. But when we walk away what are we thinking inside? Do we say, hey Lord, you know and I know I didn’t deserve that credit – I’m affirming that to you Lord. Or do we walk away saying wow that felt good, I did deserve that credit.

But remember, the Lord knows your heart.

Pastor Rich – in over 25 years I have complimented him numerous times about his messages and other things related to his life.  Virtually every time he says, well, thank you, praise God for that, or something similar.

What goes on deep down inside of us is essential to us staying humble before God.  Who gets the credit in your life. As long as God gets the credit, you’ll stay humble.

When we go through life and have some successes, the size of which depending on how you measure them:

God says, remember – –

  • Where you came from
  • Don’t forget who got you there
  • Don’t forget who gets the credit

Lastly, don’t forget what happens when we forget – it’s not where you want to be.  Real issues in our life that need our attention because it impacts our personal relationship with the Lord. Conduct all about staying humble.

1 In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a way that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the [a]unbelieving Jews stirred up the [b]minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brothers. Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that [c]signs and wonders be performed by their hands. But the [d]people of the city were divided; and some [e]sided with the Jews, while others, with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to treat them abusively and to stone them, they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel.

In Lystra a man was sitting whose feet were incapacitated. He had been disabled from his mother’s womb, and had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he spoke. Paul looked at him intently and saw that he had faith to be [f]made well, 10 and he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And the man leaped up and began to walk. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us!” 12 And they began calling Barnabas, [g]Zeus, and Paul, [h]Hermes, since he was [i]the chief speaker. 13 Moreover, the priest of Zeus, whose temple was [j]just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their [k]robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of the same nature as you, preaching the gospel to you, to turn from these [l]useless things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them. 16 [m]In past generations He permitted all the [n]nations to go their own ways; 17 yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, [o]satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And even by saying these things, only with difficulty did they restrain the crowds from offering sacrifices to them.

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