AGCC Sun. a.m. 11/12/2000
#8 (Demands of Discipleship Series)
INTRO:We live in a world of big egos, especially in this country! However, the greatest leaders in history have been people who demonstrated humility. People with big egos are often people who actually lack self confidence, and so they mask it by pretending to be so sure of themselves that others often see them as arrogant.
Because so many of us also struggle with self confidence we often look up to people who appear to be strong leaders, who many times are no more self confident than we are!
Real leadership however is found in those who have a humble attitude rather than those who appear arrogant. Those who have true self confidence don't have to impress others, they have their own self crucified. Such people are OUTWARD focused rather than INWARD focused. Those whose focus is "ME" or "I" are those that should alarm us and those who will find life empty.
ILLUS:In 1940, the International Herald Tribune printed a report from a student at Syracuse University who had studied the speeches of Adolf Hitler and other world leaders of the time. He reported that Hitler used the first person singular more frequently than any other world statesman. He used "I" or "me" an average of one time in every fifty-four words--twice as often as Franklin D. Roosevelt. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
PROP. SENT: The Scriptures teach us that God desires a humble heart, that it is the strong that are humble, not the weak. Since "pride" is the root of all sin it has no place in the life of God's disciples.
I. PRIDE'S DANGERS 23:1-4
A. Subtle 23:1-2
1. Jesus did not have a problem with the position of the scribes and Pharisees, just the arrogant pride they had. He even acknowledges the right they had to have such positions.
a. Their roles were important, they were established in the time of Moses so that God's people could be taught God's Word, a very important function.
b. Like with any position of authority however, it is not difficult for pride to slowly develop … to the point where the position becomes more important than the function of that position.
2. When people develop the mentality that they "deserve" such a place of authority then they are in danger of developing damaging pride.
3. The shift can be so subtle that we can fail to see it when it comes … but one of the signs that it is starting is that what we teach and what we model are not the same!
ILLUS:We teach what we know; we reproduce what we are. -- Robert Schmidgall, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 2.
4. Somewhere in the history of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees went from teaching AND modeling humility to just teaching it … and reproducing arrogant self righteous followers … the proof that pride had taken over their lives.
B. Separation 23:3-4
1. You will note in the text here that Jesus makes a clear distinction between what they taught and what they did.
a. He still tells His followers that it is important that what is taught from God's Word be obeyed, but that the examples of these arrogant leaders be rejected.
b. The pride of the Pharisees and scribes could be seen in the fact that their servant's hearts were gone, this is a real clear evidence that pride had taken over their lives.
c. People who are humble are servants at heart, prideful people tend to have others serve their purposes.
2. It is far too easy to fall prey to the development of spiritual pride, or any kind of negative pride.
a. Humility serves to avoid the development of negative pride.
b. Humility requires that we remember what we are, and that God is always greater than we are.
c. One of the purposes and blessings of being brothers and sisters in Christ is that we can help keep one another humble!
ILLUS:When a victorious Roman general arrived back in Rome, he was given a hero's welcome and a triumphant parade of victory. But a philosopher was hired to ride beside him in the victory parade. As the victor acknowledged the cheers of the crowd, the philosopher kept whispering in his ear: "You are mortal. You are mortal." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
3. The Pharisees and scribes had forgotten who they were, and in the process felt they didn't answer to anyone but God. (and even God was questionable!)
a. When people say that they don't have to submit to anyone but God there is usually a pride problem behind it.
b. It requires humility to be used by God.
4. Pride is what the Devil expressed, all such arrogant pride is thus the basis of all sin.
a. Pride seeks to put others below, humility raises others up.
b. Jesus refused to do His own will, He said He had come to do the will of His father, not His own. (see Luke 22:42)
5. Nothing will rob a man or woman of God from a powerful witness for Christ more than pride … it will not only destroy a true witness of Christ, it will eventually destroy the Christian who has it.
a. One of the constant battles of the disciples was pride … they argued among themselves who would be greatest, they sought to be first, etc.
b. Jesus' attempt at teaching them about His kingdom included the call to be a servant to all … the road of humility rather than the road of pride.
6. Pride will set us above others, so that we find ourselves sitting in judgment on others while doing nothing to help them.
a. This creates a separation from the world that Jesus never intended.
b. Such a separation will only yield isolation and rejection by the world.
II. PRIDE'S DELUSION 23:5-12
A. Sanctimonious 23:5-7
1. The concern of the Pharisees and scribes had to do with their own image rather than God's image.
a. They liked titles, they liked status, they liked privileges at special events.
b. Such desires for these things took attention off God and put it on them.
2. Tragically, such an attitude only drives people away from God rather than toward God.
ILLUS:A man once boasted that he was a self-made man. Joseph Parker replied, "That relieves the Lord of an awful responsibility." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
3. Without even realizing it these religious leaders in Jesus' day set them selves so far above the average person that they no longer could see their own sinfulness.
a. The sanctimonious status they created prevented others from taking seriously the very God they were suppose to serve.
b. This perversion of true religion was one thing that Jesus could not take, and He saved His harshest words for these so called religious leaders who had the responsibility of leading people to God.
c. Jesus' strong words against them demonstrate the seriousness that God takes about pride … Jesus called them "vipers, snakes, evil doers," etc.
4. Tragically, in the midst of the greatest moment of Israel, the coming of the Messiah these proud arrogant religious leaders missed the greatest moment of history, all in the name of self promotion! The price tag was high because of this!
ILLUS:Two Texans were trying to impress each other with the size of their ranches. One asked the other, "What's the name of your ranch?" He replied, "The Rocking R, ABC, Flying W Circle C, Bar U, Staple Four, Box D, Rolling M, Rainbow's End, Silver Spur Ranch." The questioner was much impressed and exclaimed, "Whew! That's sure some name! How many head of cattle do you run?" The rancher answered, "Not many. Very few survive the branding. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 438.
5. Somewhere the focus went from pointing people to God, to focusing attention on them … and it did not happen over night.
a. Pride usually eats away at us gradually.
b. Before long others can see our sanctimonious attitude and we only see their stubborn sinfulness while ignoring our own.
B. Significance 23:8-12
1. Real significance in life comes from being a servant, from focusing people's attention away from us and toward God.
a. The fact is that no matter how big we think we are, there will always be someone who is greater. Self promotion is such a fleeting thing!
ILLUS:On May 31, 1889, there was a terrible flood at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Thousands of lives were lost. The event was one of the most significant news makers of that year. A story was told about a man who lived through the flood. Every time he got a chance, he would tell people about it. He died and went to Heaven, where he was told him he could have anything he wanted. The man said he wanted a great hall where he could tell his story to tens of thousands. The wish was granted. The day came. The hall was packed. As he was ready to make his talk about the Johnstown flood, the master of ceremonies told him he would be the second speaker on the program. He would be preceded by a man named Noah. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
b. When we discover the call to servanthood, we discover the secret to making our life significant.
2. We discover our life when we are willing to lose it, when we set it aside and live for Christ we will discover the greatest fulfillment.
3. When Moses arrogantly attempted to set himself up as the deliverer of Israel by attacking and killing an Egyptian to prove it he discovers that the Jews rejected or at best was suspicious of him.
a. Moses' pride got in the way of God's calling.
b. This cost him 40 years in the desert where he learned to be nothing greater than a shepherd.
c. Only when Moses had been fully humbled was he useful to God.
d. This is true with us also … we are of little value to God and His kingdom when we are arrogant and full of self.
4. There is a unique power that comes from humility, a power the world has yet to comprehend.
a. The power of humility has a way of raising the value of others, of raising the power of God by our example.
b. We draw people to Christ when we are humble of heart. True humility will draw out the best in others as well as our self.
ILLUS:In 1994 Thurman Thomas, head bowed with his hands covering his face, sat on the Buffalo bench following his team's fourth straight Super Bowl loss. His three fumbles had helped seal the awful fate of his Buffalo Bills. Suddenly, standing before him was the Dallas Cowboys' star running back, Emmitt Smith. Just named MVP for Super Bowl XXVIII, Smith was carrying his small goddaughter. Smith looked down at her and said, "I want you to meet the greatest running back in the NFL, Mr. Thurman Thomas." Paul tells us to "in humility to consider others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:3). -- Allen Mann, Remington, Virginia. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 4.
5. Is it more important to us that we are recognized, or that Christ is?
6. If your life was examined by non Christians would they be talking more about you or Christ?
7. If there is a need in your Church that requires little recognition does that matter in terms of your willingness to volunteer to help?
8. Are we bothered when others are recognized and given praise?
9. Remember, the subtle nature of pride is that it grows very slowly, almost imperceptibly by us, but surely recognized by others.
a. No wonder the Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor 15:31 "I die every day--I mean that, brothers..." (NIV)
b. Pride must be dealt with every day in our lives.
c. Even Jesus said that He did nothing of Himself, but only what His father in heaven wanted.
10. The victorious life is not found in self promotion, it is found in humility.
CONCLUSION: Why was Jesus so focused on humility and why so many warnings about pride? Pride is the foundation for all sin, it is what Satan appealed to in Eve in order to tempt her, and it is what destroys our lives when it is allowed to blossom. Pride can gradually cloud our perspective and rob us of God's potential -- it truly is one of the 7 deadly sins!