WELCOME

“The Humble Poor Believe”

Preached by Rev. Andrew Leach

on Sunday 8th December 2019 PM Service

 

Introduction

A child when asked about his part in the school Nativity said he was, “Looking after the bins…”

“Oh, were there no parts left?” his parent replied

“Yes, I’m in it… I’m the bin keeper!”

I wonder which part you played as a child, in this annual Christmas production?

It seems quite “tame” compared to the action stories children like, don’t you think?

There are no superheroes in the Nativity!

The characters are very ordinary

There is so much humility on display

 

What exactly is humility?

CS Lewis of Narnia fame said:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself

but thinking of yourself less.”

 

This can be seen in the attitudes and actions that first Christmas:

  • Joseph

                   Humbly changes his plans

“He did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him…” (Matthew 1.24)

  • Mary

               Willingly gives herself to doing things God’s way:

“I am the Lord’s Servant…” (Luke 1.38)

  • Shepherds

                Was there a more “mundane” occupation?

They were happy to think of something other than themselves!

  • Wise Men

        They were humbly corrected back on course after going to Herod in     Jerusalem by mistake in search of the new king.

                                     (What a contrast to Herod’s pride)

  • Jesus

                                     In his lowly estate…

“…made himself nothing…”

(See Philippians 2.6-8)

 

God is impressed with humility – unlike our world – which is drawn to the brash, loud and ego-centric.

God, however, says:

“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word…” (Isaiah 66.2b)

Christlikeness involves humility

“Take my yoke…for I am gentle and humble in heart…and you will find rest for your souls…” (Matthew 11.29)

Here are three Biblical truths about humility:

 

  1. Humility provides guidance

God’s word shows this clearly:

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way…” (Psalm 25.9)

When we think we know best we are not interested in anyone else’s opinion or way to go!

 If we have all the answers we don’t need to listen and learn. However,

 “…with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11.2)

 The humble recognise the value of help – especially from the Lord:

 “If my people will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…” (2 Chronicles 7.14)

Prayerlessness is sometimes the result of pride. It is not humility to not to want to trouble the Lord – especially when He has made it clear He wants us to call upon Him!

Do you need guidance? Are you humbly seeking the Lord for wisdom in prayer?

If we need it – we are to ask – and He will give to those who ask and do not waver.

 

2. Humility promotes grace

 Martin Luther once saw two goats on a mountain cliff edge. To his amazement one lowered itself down for the other to walk over it so both could proceed without risk or danger of harm.

 Locking horns or surrender and survival?

Followers of Jesus are exhorted to “Prefer one another…”

For the Lord…

 “…gives grace to the humble…” (Proverbs 3.34)

We need His help. The natural is prone to pride. We need the supernatural – the work of His Spirit.

His grace is sufficient. His grace is amazing – and transforming!

 

3. Humility produces greatness

“Who wants to be a doormat?” (the World says)

But for the Christian it is enough to know we are pleasing the Lord. Yet, God’s Word promises:

“…humility comes before honour…” (Proverbs 15.33)

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”

(Matthew 23.12)

Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees and how they took their seats at the top table. This was quite different to how Jesus washed the feet of his guests?

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18.4)

Children didn’t have any social standing then – today, they seem to be running our crazy world!

Jesus was pointing out that children are “learners” – they don’t have all the answers or experience – they have to trust.

We can trust the Lord to work things out – as we humbly think more of him and others than ourselves.

The great musician / composer Bach having been complimented on how he played the organ said:

“There is nothing very wonderful about it. You have only to hit the right notes at the right moment and the instrument does the rest”

 

Application

The need for humility is everywhere in the New Testament letters:

  1. James

        “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up…” (James 4.10)

It is the Lord who does the lifting up.

B. Peter

“Clothe yourself with humility…Humble yourselves…under God’s mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time…” (1 Peter 5.5-6)

It is in God’s timing that this elevation takes place. Remember the story of Joseph in Egypt.

God’s hand is mighty. We, however, must dress ourselves each day.

C. Paul

  • Pharisee (known for their pride)
  • “Least”:                  Of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 15.9)
  •                                 Of the Saints (Ephesians 3.8)
  • Chief of Sinners (1 Timothy 1.15)

“Be completely humble and gentle…” (Ephesians 4.2)

“…In humility consider others better than yourselves…” (Philippians 2.3)

“…to show true humility towards all men” (Titus 3.2)

In our Bible reading tonight we read:

Mary’s Song – The Magnificat

  • The Lord is mindful of the humble (v48)
  • The Lord is merciful to the humble (v52) – lifting them up
  • The Lord fills the hungry with good things (v53)

To do so there needs to be:

  • The recognition of hunger
  • The recognition of the one who fills

Mary recognised this for herself and her people from her “humble state”

 

Conclusion

We constantly need the Lord – as saviour (v47)

We are saved – being saved – will be saved!

He is mindful of our humble state – are we mindful of his greatness and holiness? (v49)

We are nothing without him

“…apart from me you can do nothing”

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”

“…he will do even greater things than these…”

(See John 15.5b; Philippians 4.13; John 14.12)

Humility is the means through which we honour the Lord and He honours us.

The humble poor believe…” we sing in Charles Wesley’s hymn – O for a thousand tongues to sing

Do you identify with such a group?

In our proud – self-conceited – world; the Nativity (and Mary’s response in song) reminds us those the Lord blesses and why. May you be blessed in your humility at this special time of year.

Amen.

 

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