The responsibility in fellowship: Humble Oneself
Luke 9:46-48; Luke 18:9-14
Today, as we talk about “The Responsibility in Fellowship: Humble Oneself” we come to two passages of Scripture that speak to a responsibility we have to God and to one another.
In Luke 9:46-48 and Luke 18:9-14 the Lord addresses, perhaps, our root sin from the fall and that is self-exaltation.
Two key words are found in Luke 9:46:
Jesus identifies the source of this problem among his disciples:
1. The heart
Jesus identifies the solution to the fallen heart exalting itself to be the greatest and thus creating division and arguments:
1. Each person should make it their aim to be the least, to humble themselves
In Luke 18:9-14 the Lord again addresses the issue of self-exaltation.
Two men are found in Luke 18:9-14:
1. The Pharisee who exalted himself by comparing himself to other men and then trumpeting how much greater he was compared to other men.
2. The tax-collector who rightly compared himself to God and found himself lacking and repenting of his lack.
Jesus identifies the solution to the issues of self-exaltation:
1. Each person should make it their aim to humble themselves
So we find that the key issue in these two accounts given by the Lord himself that brought arguments and division to people was that of self-exaltation and the solution to self-exaltation was to be the least or to humble oneself.
1. In fellowship a primary responsibility must be to humble ourselves
How are we to seek to humble ourselves?
A. We can humble ourselves by holding our tongue
“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words.” – Bonhoeffer
“Isolated thoughts of judgment (sinful judgment) can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them the right to be uttered, except in a confession of sin….He who holds his tongue in check controls both mind and body (James 3:2). Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” – Bonhoeffer
“…to speak about a brother covertly is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and good will; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers always creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.” – Bonhoeffer
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor.”
1. Seek to build up not corrupt with the tongue
2. Other people’s walk with the Lord is affected by what we say (sin is atmospheric)
3. Corrupting talk grieves Holy Spirit / quenches Holy Spirit
4. Don’t speak evil and thus wrongly judge a brother/sister
a. This is not speaking of Matthew 7 accountability in rightly judging without
hypocrisy. This is speaking of projecting false things onto a brother and
thus speaking evil about them.
When tempted to crucify a brother with our tongue remember this:
“God did not make this person as I would have made him. He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator.” – Bonhoeffer
B. We can humble ourselves by seeking to be meek
Meekness – fearing God, righteous, humble, teachable, patient, controlled strength
“Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself.” – Bonhoeffer
1. Recognize that we are all expendable
2. Use whatever gift you have been graced with in control for the better of others
3. Boast in your weaknesses
a. 2 Corinthians 11:30-12:10
b. Do a weaknesses assessment and then give God the glory that he can speak
even through donkeys!
C. We can humble ourselves by bearing with each other
Having presented a lofty picture of the Christian life, Paul now addresses the very real possibility of sin (1). Although the principle of living by the Spirit is no mere idealism, the apostle knew perfectly well that believers will falter, and he may have feared that the Galatians would respond harshly to one of their own if he or she failed to meet the high standards just described. Accordingly, he points out that if they are spiritual (that is, having and being led by the Holy Spirit), they ought to respond gently (‘with a spirit of gentleness’), always conscious that each of us is susceptible to temptation.
In vs 2–3 Paul continues the thought but generalizes somewhat. Restoring a believer who has sinned is but an example of the broader obligation that we have to bear each other’s burdens. Anyone who balks at this obligation, thinking that he is above such weaknesses, only deceives himself. In a striking and ironic allusion to the Galatians’ concern with the Jewish laws, Paul describes burden-bearing as a fulfilment of the law of Christ. Most likely, this notion is to be related to 5:14, the love commandment. Clearly, the wonderful freedom for which Paul had fought during his ministry and especially in this letter does not entail an abandonment of moral obligations.
Paul’s concern that the Galatians should be conscious of the burdens and weaknesses of others, however, could lead to a sense of superiority and thus to sinful boasting. So in vs 4–5 he calls to mind the need and propriety of looking only at oneself for evaluation, i.e. one should look at the weakness of others only for purposes of compassion, not of comparison (2 Cor. 10:12–18). In that sense, each must bear his or her own burden.
We might paraphrase: ‘If you are intent on boasting just look at yourself; don’t be like the Pharisee who compares himself to the publican, but rather use God’s standard, and then you will find that boasting can only be in God’ (v 14; 1 Cor. 1:26–31).
D. We can humble ourselves by serving
“…even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”
This was Jesus’ response to James’ and John’s mom coming with the boys and asking Jesus to let them be on top.
Serving is, perhaps, the easiest activity to do and do it with the wrong attitude and the service be worse than if it was not done at all.
Not all service is good.
I’m not talking about serving in frustrated anger because you are obviously better than others and no one else is going to do it….Rather serving because serving makes one happy and it is a delight to serve….This kind of serving comes from a desire deep in a transformed heart to be like Jesus….The other kind of serving comes from the flesh and has a shelf life that will expire and that service becomes a bitter cancer done to goad at others rather than to give life….That kind of service, fleshly and self-exalting service, smells bad and infects with a virus of death…..Desire filled, Jesus imitating, joy prompted service for the good of others and infects with a virus of life.
1. Check your heart in service and repent if necessary
a. Stop serving if service can’t be in the Spirit
b. Start serving in the right attitude
2. Offer service to the Lord in worship this morning
a. The fruit of lips that bless his name
3. Offer service to the Lord’s people this morning
b. Outdo one another in showing honor