The Hidden Blessings In Humility

Bible Book: John  13 : 12-17
Subject: Lord's Supper; Communion; Humility; Fruitfulness
Introduction

A church secretary wanted to give a praise to the Lord for the healing of the pastor. She ran out of room in the bulletin and had to run her gratitude statement in a single line at the bottom of the bulletin. So she typed, "God is good - Our Pastor is better!" The gratitude turned out to be a bit awkward. It appeared that she was comparing God and the pastor and had found the pastor "better".

Of course, the secretary didn't really feel that way about her pastor, and neither did the pastor feel that way about himself. On the other hand, it is important for us to reveal to God and others a true spirit of humility. Often the world has the opinion that Christians are arrogant, and we must be careful not to convey that attitude or appearance.

Jesus met with His disciples in an upper room on the Thursday evening before He was crucified on Friday. The disciples could sense that something was afoot but they were not sure exactly what to make of their apprehension. Then Jesus did something so strange. He dressed like a servant, took a basin and towel, and began to wash the feet of the disciples. Afterward, He sat among them a spoke of this behavior in a great lesson. It is a lesson we all need to learn, and re-learn.

Jesus taught the disciples a lesson in humility. Before we receive the Lord's Supper today, I want us to draw so inspiration from this wonderful incident in the life of our Lord.

I. The Exhortation to Humility

The disciples called Jesus Teacher and Lord. He told them that they spoke properly, but then he altered that order of the two words they used to describe Him. Not that they had called Him, “Teacher and Lord,” but Jesus said, “You call me Lord and teacher…” Jesus placed the word Lord before the word Teacher. Dear friends, Lordship comes before Teacher when it comes to who Jesus really is. Lordship precedes discipleship. We must humble ourselves before Him and identify Him as the only true Lord before we can ever be devoted disciples.

Dwight L. Moody once said, "The beginning of humility is to be little; the increase of humility is to be less; and, the perfection of humility is to be nothing." John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." This is a lesson we all must discover and assimilate.

In Philippians 2:5-10 we discover one of the greatest passages in the Bible on humility. Paul began the passage with words, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” The word “let” in that passage is a jussive imperative. It really means, “DO THIS – get the mind of Christ in you!” It is an imperative order. It is an exhortation to humility. Paul goes on to show us how humble Jesus was, even to the point that He suffered the death of the cross for our sins. How foolish of us to act in arrogance when we have a Savior He showed us how we are to live in humility.

Since humility is commanded by our Lord, we must take the issue seriously, Pride has divided many Christians from one another and has led to the congregations being split asunder. More importantly, arrogance send a message to the world that Christ does not desire to be portrayed. Christians must stand for the truth, but in doing so we are to show forth the attitude of Christ. This command is not necessary, except for the fact that our Lord knew the human propensity to feel it and reveal it.

The disciples failed to wash the feet of one another because they were too proud to do so. Each felt it a demeaning task and not one of them desired to be the servant of the group. How many times have we seen this attitude create strife among believers? Thus, Jesus commanded that we do as He did and show an attitude of humility in our words and actions.

II. The Demonstration of Humility

Jesus did not just proclaim humility, He practiced it! From His incarnation to His crucifixion, Jesus acted in humility in order to be our Savior. Our precious Lord laid down the glory crown at the throne to pick up the gory, thorny crown at the cross. He stepped from streets of gold in heaven to walk the Via Dolorosa. He left the praises of the angels to come to this world and accept the curses of sinners. And, just before He went to the cross, He knelt to accept the humble role of a slave and washed His disciple’s feet.

Why? Jesus did this to demonstrate that which we are to do for one another. He did not wash the feet of the disciples to institute an ordinance for the church. There are only two such ordinances. One is baptism and the other is the Lord's Supper. No, he meant to show us the way we are to live. He wanted to show us that our lives should be lived in love, not legalism; in affection, not ambition; in humility, not haughtiness! Look at John 13:34-35. What a challenge to every believer.

Dr. Gary Ingig once said, "If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and realize the awesomeness of who he is, and I accept God's estimate of myself, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility."

Jesus never commanded what He did not practice. His call to disciples to be humble is simply a call to follow Him. In fact, we never stand taller than we are kneeling beside Jesus to serve one another. I've always thought of my self as kneeling before Jesus, but reading this passage reminds me that Jesus knelt down to serve His disciples. How much more arrogant can we be than to stand when Jesus knelt? We are to follow His example by simply following Him!

III. The Compensation in Humility

A. Fellowship with the Savior

Jesus told Peter that unless he allowed his feet to be washed, he had no fellowship with Him (Jesus). In other words, deepest fellowship is only available when we submit to His will in all things. Is there someone here today who feels that you aren’t experiencing a closeness with Christ? Do you feel far from Him? Could it be that you are not acting in humility and total loyalty to Him, and that is the reason you feel a distance from Him?

As I said a moment ago, fellowship with Jesus is found with a basin and towel on our knees beside Him. If you really want a deeper relationship with Christ, an humble spirit is required. Unfettered access to the Lord begins with an unpretentious life before Him. Posturing in a self-important manner leads to a life far from the close relationship the true Christian desires with the Lord. Psalm 138:6 states:

"Though the LORD is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar."

The Lord keeps those who are proud far from arms length. Again, if we don't feel as close to our Savior as we feel we should, we must take a look at our pride. Are you separated from someone because you are too proud to apologize? Perhaps you are separated from others because you feel that you are better than they are. Maybe you are carrying a grudge against someone who has hurt you. Even after Peter had denied our Lord, the risen Savior embraced Him. We must look to the demonstration of Jesus in order to know and practice true humility.

B. Fruitfulness in Service

We cannot serve God in our own strength. All my righteousness is like filthy rags to God. I can only serve Him when I am humble and submitted to Him. His power must be at work in me for my labors to be effective. If you wish to be truly fruitful in your service to Christ, humble yourself to Him and watch what He will do in you and through you.

Many Christians have spiritual gifts that are not being displayed because of arrogance and pride. There is so much Christ desires to do in us so that He can do much through us, but it is impossible to experience all of His power in our lives unless we humble ourselves before Him.

C. Forgiveness of Sin

No one has ever been forgiven without first being humble. It is an unpretentious, unassuming and self-effacing act to bow before God, especially to do so before other people, and ask God to forgive you. There are many who are not saved today because they cannot bring themselves to openly admit their sinful, corrupt and iniquitous nature. Forgiveness requires humility. We are promised that when we confess our sins He is willing to fully forgive us (1 John 1:9), but there is question of our willingness to humble ourselves before Him.

Conclusion

Before we take the Lord’s Supper today, is there someone here who needs to come to Jesus and receive Him as LORD and Savior? I’m sure there is someone. The question is whether you are willing to admit your need for Christ for forgiveness. I pray that you are ready. You can come to Him now.

There are many Christians in this service. We are told to never receive the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Now is the time to come and recommit your life to Him. Ask Him to cleanse you and renew you humble walk with Him. If you do, you will find yourself more fruitful and more joyful in your service to the King of kings!

The sign in the window read: "Boy Wanted". Young John Simmons, though he was lazy, saw his opportunity and applied. He was quickly hired by elderly Mr. Peters. The pace was leisurely so he enjoyed the job. Toward the middle of the afternoon however, he was sent up to the attic ‑‑ a dingy place full of cobwebs and infested with mice. "You will find a long, deep box there," explained Mr. Peters. "Please sort out the contents and see what should be saved." John was disappointed. It was a large container, and there seemed to be nothing in it but old junk. After a few minutes he went back to the ground floor. Asked by the proprietor if he had completed his work, he replied, "No, sir, it was dark and cold up there and I didn't think it was worth doing." At closing time he was paid and told not to return. The next morning the old sign "Boy Wanted" appeared in its usual place. Crawford Hill was the next to be employed. When he was asked to tidy up the same box, however, he spent hours separating the usable nails and screws from the things to be discarded. Suddenly he raced down the stairs all excited. "At the very bottom I found this!" he exclaimed, holding up a 20‑dollar bill. At last the store owner had discovered a conscientious boy to whom he could entrust his business when he retired. Years later Mr. Peters said, "This young man, who is now my successor, found his fortune in a junk box!" Then, correcting himself, he added, "No, he actually found it in his mother's Bible because he heeded the verse she made him memorize: 'He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much!'"

Let us respond now. Come while you may. While the Spirit of God is speaking, be not idle. Now let us sing, and let all who will respond to the Lord who bowed to wash His disciples feet! Before we take the bread and cup to our lips, let us dedicate our entire lives to Him who gave all for us!