The Place of Humility in a Pastor's Heart.
INTRODUCTION: It is imperative a man who believes he is being led of the Lord to take a position of service in the local church and fully understand Christ's directive to that task.
Christ's behavior in John 13 provides a precedent for understanding what is the very heart and soul of the serving as the pastor of a local church.
In John 13:1-17, Jesus, just prior to his crucifixion He taught His disciples a VITAL truth about their attitude of themselves not only as receivers of the truth, but as teachers of these truths to others. These were Christ's disciples and future pastors to the churches not yet formed.
Each of us must be regularly reminded that we are to serve in humility before the Lord. We must understand that the old nature can lead us astray and we can fall into the same trap the disciples fell into...that is seeking to receive honor that only belongs to the Savior.
In the Old Testament God said about Job that he was a, "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil."
God allowed Satan to strip Job of everything in his life even to his health. He even took Job's family except for his wife. The reason was obvious....she urged Job to "curse God and die."
Job's friends came by to set Job strait and go on and on with their "helpful" criticism. Job defended himself as being a righteous man and having no fault, yet Job did have a problem. His problem was not in righteousness. His problem is revealed when Job asks, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?" (Job 21:15). Job's friends speak with great eloquence, but they do not answer the question. Finally, both they and Job are silent.
Then God speaks:
We too, need to learn who the Almighty God is and who we are in relation to Him. Then and only then will we have a proper ministry as servants of our Creator and God. We need to understand that we are servants, no more than bond slaves were to their masters in Bible times. We do not need to understand or to judge all that God is doing in our lives. In fact, we cannot truly comprehend the things of God. His thoughts are above our thoughts. Our task is to simply serve God, in faith fully, totally and follow His written word.
Lets look at this passage carefully to see what the Lord wants us to know.
I. THE SITUATION.
2. We see a great deal of the same thing today in many churches. Yes, I see it too among we who are fundamentalists. I see it in the pew and in those in leadership positions. I have seen preachers of churches maneuvering, scheming for greater influence, recognition and power.
I am talking about what Paul addresses in Phil. 1:15-18. He said there were those who preached out of "contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds." They preached the truth, yet not sincerely.
It is a sobering thought the God's truth can be preached...but not certainly. Clearly, the cure for such erroneous actions, that cause such confusion among God's people is biblical humility! A humble man will not elevate himself to a position that places himself over others.
Nevertheless, many disguise their true ambition of seeking to be the greatest among their brethren, by claiming they really only seek to correct error and "stand for the truth!
We certainly need men who will stand up and be counted who will not compromise and stand on God's Word....no matter what the consequences. However, the methods some use reveals their true intent and purpose.
Jesus' disciples were not men who were outwardly sinful. Most times God's preachers are sincere individuals who truly love the Lord and love the Word of God.
Please understand, I do not think any preacher called of God, with burden for the souls of men deliberately sets out to have this type of attitude. It is a cunning laid trap of the Devil that some fall into. It can also come from the struggle of our carnal pride to exert itself. It is something that each of us must fight because we all are subject to pride.
What was the situation?
2. It is a lesson that needs to again be taught today.
2. Many picture humility as being typified as one who walks around with a placid expression on his face, hands cupped as if in prayer. It is the docile picture of a wimpy preacher. True humility is not seen in how one outwardly looks.
3. The value of humility is in what humility brings. What action is prompts.
REPEAT THE ABOVE SENTENCE!
4. What we a trying to determine is why did Jesus stoop in humility, to wash the disciples' feet?
What was the purpose of Jesus's humble act.
5. To understand it let's look closer into what Jesus did and said. Let's find some principles here to guide us to understand what Jesus was teaching His disciples.
2..Christ's act of humility was prompted by his deep love for his disciples and for the task that lay ahead of them.
Many see humility as an attribute that is self-serving. They think it is like a plateau you reach. You reach the high plane of humility. It is almost like beauty to be worn outwardly.
Did you ever hear someone say, "he was the most humble person I know", or "He is such a humble person". What, most times people mean, is the person had an unassuming character in which there was an absence of pride and assertiveness. The person was mild-mannered and modest.
That outward display too can be the result of pride! Pride can lead a person to outwardly act pious and humble and draw attention to himself. To some, it is their claim to fame...to be outwardly perceived as being humble.
Biblical humility is much more than being mild-mannered and modest. True humility is an attitude of submission to the will of Christ and desiring Him to receive the glory and honor, he is due.
LETS LOOK FURTHER!
3. Note verse 15. Jesus clearly gives the reason for his actions and what He wanted to teach them.
He said, "this is an example, you should do as I have done".
What does he mean? I should we wash other people's feet as some outward act of humility?
Some have foolishly instituted "foot washing" as an ordinance to be practiced in a local church. They totally missed the point of Jesus' actions. It is amazing to me to see how the leaders in some church, completely miss the point of a passage of God's word and fail to see what the true message is. They show themselves to be the blind leading the blind. Can you also see the hypocrisy of their false application of Jesus' act? Is this an ordnance for the church? No! Jesus says this is an example, not an ordnance!
2. So He took a bowl and towel, rolled up his sleeves and met this small need they had.
3. Why did He do it? He heard their acid comments one towards the other. He saw the harsh competition between the disciples. He saw the real needs beneath their action.
b. They were only interested in what they were to get out of being a disciple. Their need was more than to have their dirty feet washed.....correction was needed to a misdirected heart!!
c. They lacked a true understanding of their calling. In verse 7, when Jesus responded to Peter's statements of false humility. He said, "You do not understand what I am doing now but in time, you will."
d. Jesus was laying the very foundation and basis of their discipleship and their ministries.
He said. Is the servant greater than His master? The answer is obviously, NO.
B. Humility then is an attitude that puts one in the correct relationship to others. Others are to be served!! Other's welfare is to be sought first, without regard to personal cost. We put Christ supreme in our lives (Col. 1:18) and in doing so we put others first.
God, incarnate in man, the Lord Jesus, submitted to the greatest humiliation the earth has seen. God allowed his created being, man...polluted and warped by will sin to crucify him unjustly, and a cruel and painful cross.
Why? To serve mankind! To redeem the soul gone astray. To save a soul from an eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire.
2. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, "Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." Faithful doing what.....serving others.
3. Question: How can you serve God? Can you or I do anything for God to benefit Him? There is only one way. You cannot serve God without serving others! Being spiritual or even being right, which is what righteousness is, isn't worth a dime if he does not help other people. We can know the Bible backwards and forward. We know every doctrine and can quote great portions of Scripture. We can wax eloquent in our oratory.
Paul said in 1 Cor. 13, " Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Paul expressed it this way, " And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. 13:17).
What is "charity?" It is simply love, brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence towards others. It is putting other first.
Romans 12:1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
True love for God operates within the bounds of humility and will show itself in a love for soul. The person with true biblical humility will give himself sacrificially to reach them for the Lord.
Philippians 2:4 say, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
True love is based in true humility. It cares more for the other person than one's self. It seeks the welfare of others. True humility serves...!
4. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27, expressed his concern about not being used of the Lord and said, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." His love of the Lord and burden for others made him keep himself in subjection to the task at hand.
Paul suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. Why? It is normal for the servant. Everything that Paul had considered worthwhile before he was saved, he said he counted as "dung." "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8).
2. Note that the disciples of Christ referred to themselves as "doulos" (doo'-los) - "bond slaves" of Christ.
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness" (Titus 1:1)
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ"( James 1:1).
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1)
"Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James" (Jude 1)
John in Revelation 1:1 calls himself the servant of Christ.
In each case, the word means "bond slave" totally owned and controlled by the Master.
3. When you understand that the message, Jesus was teaching was done just before His crucifixion and leaving His disciples it takes on greater meaning.
He was saying....to be my disciple you must serve others and meet their needs. You must be humble yourself to the will of God and take the attitude and task of a bond slave.
5. Paul in Ephesians 6:12 says we are to put on the whole armor of God.
Many stop at Verse 17. Lets read together Verse 18-20.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
I believe he is saying he was "bound as God's messenger God's ambassador. He did not represent himself. It was his mission, but at God full direction.
You are not to worry about your own needs, whether your service to others is appreciated, respected, cared for, or even recognized.
You see, ultimately, if our hearts and attitude are correct, we are serving the Lord Jesus. Nothing He requires of us is unreasonable....we owe Him our all, He owes us nothing.
Most of us here are pastors and missionaries. We serve the Lord because he has placed a burden in our hearts to reach he lost in this state. It is not an easy task, and we are subject to being discouraged. We will not be recognized for our service. Few know of the hardships we face. Often we cannot understand how indifferent many are to us. However, we should know...that Christ has given us the privilege to serve Him, and that should enough for us. That Christ loved us and put us in this ministry.
Lets us then learn the lesson Jesus our Lord and Master taught in His example....let us serve Him in humility....putting the Lord and others first.