How to humble yourself in five easy lessons (Proverbs 30:18-33) February 25, 2010Posted by roberttalley in Character, Humililty, Pride, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
(How to humble myself in five easy lessons)
Humility is a tough thing to get. The minute you think you got, you lose it. As Agur explains to his two young listeners about life, one of his themes is the danger of self-exaltation. As we finish this chapter today, I want us to apply Agur’s observations about life to ourselves, specifically in how we can fight self-exaltation.
A. I must take responsibility for my own sin (verses 18-20). Agur says that there are some things that he cannot understand. How can an eagle fly through the air and not leave a path behind him? How can a snake crawl on a rock without leaving, as the snail or the worm does, a hint of his path? How can a ship part the waves without leaving a permanent dent in them? How can a man be with a maiden and leave no hint of his past presence?
We might ask ourselves what this has to do with a life honoring to God so Agur gives us an explanation. This is what we try to do with our sin. We try to leave no hint of our sin behind, no proof of our deeds. He speaks specifically of adultery here but this certainly applies to many sins. We sin and then try to hide it so that we will not lose face before others or so that we will not be punished.
To hide our sin is evidence of our desire for self-exaltation. To not take responsibility for our own wrongdoing is proof of our pride.
a. To hide a sin does not eliminate its reality. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called “The Cask of the Amontillado” in which the main character carries out the perfect crime. He chains his enemy in a wine cellar room and bricks him in to die. How much more would we sin if we though we could get away with it? I do not know but I do know that wiping the cookie crumbs off your lips does not erase the fact that you stole the cookies from the cookie jar. What sin are you hiding? What sin are you pretending does not exist in your life? If you are to humble yourself before God you must acknowledge the reality of your sin.
b. To deny a sin does not eliminate accountability. Do not forget that even if you leave no mark, God will hold you accountable for your sin. Agur has already mentioned this in verse 17. Sin will not go unpunished. Jesus Himself said that every word said in secret will be made public. Think of the most secret sin that you have ever committed, the one sin that you would be most horrified if anyone should find out about it. It is already known and you will be held accountable.
B. If I am to humble myself, I not only must take responsibility for my sin but I must act like God is God and I am not (verses 21-23). Charles Swindoll tells in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (“No Place for Pride” on pages 62-65) how that a reporter asked Marian Anderson, the African-American concert soloist to name the greatest moment in her life. She had many great moments in her life. She was the first African-American in 1955 to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She had given private concerts at the White House with the President as well as the King and Queen of England present. She had sung one Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 people including most of our nation’s political leaders. “Which of those big moments did she choose? None of them. Miss Anderson quietly told the reporter that the greatest moment of her life was the day she went home and told her mother she wouldn’t have to take in washing anymore.” She did not forget who she was.
We on the other hand tend to forget who we are. We live as if we were God Himself, determining what we are going to do and when we are going to do it. We act as if we were the determiners of morality and truth. We forget that God is God and we are not.
Our text gives us several examples of people who are in a position that does not fit them. A servant is incapable of being a king. A wicked, fool does not deserve the blessings of God. What can a marriage can mean to a woman who is hated? The slave girl does not kick her mistress out of the house so that she can enjoy her finery. So is it when we act as if we were God.
a. God’s place in the universe is supreme. We need to understand that most of the people who we work with, talk to, and live with do not believe that God’s place in the universe is supreme. The evidence is clear. Every time we sin, we are with our actions denying that God is supreme. We make ourselves king when we sin. Sin is nothing more than an exaltation of man over God.
Is it not ludicrous when we act as if we were God? We are no different than the slave girl who kicks here mistress out of the house so she can take her place. She may sit in her mistress’ chair and eat her mistress’ food but she is still a slave girl. We may do things our way rather than God’s way but He remains God regardless of whether we live like it or not.
b. I am accountable to God because He created me. Will Metzger in “Tell the Truth” tells about asking people two questions on a beach in Florida during spring break. The first was, “Do you believe in God?” Most said, “Yes.” Then he asked, “Does sin separate you from God?” Here are some of their replies: “No, why should it?” or “I don’t believe in that kind of a God”, or “My concept of God is one who loves.” In other words, I am not accountable to God so why should I worry about sin.
We are, however, accountable to God. The writer of Hebrews points out that it is appointed to man once to die and after this, judgment. We, all of us, are accountable to God. Those who believe in Christ have Jesus as the one who takes responsibility for our sin. Those who do not trust Christ as the only way of salvation will stand alone and give an account to God.
C. In addition, if I am going to humble myself before God, I must do what is right, without regard for how insignificant that action or my position may appear (verses 24-28).
The wise man is like the ant, his significance is not found in his great power but rather in doing what he is supposed to do. Like the coney, his security is not found in his own power but in the Rock on which he lives. Like the locust, he does not wait from a mandate from a king but follows the way of God, even though He has never seen God. Like the lizard in the palace, he lives in a great place but not because of his greatness.
God is God and I am not. Therefore, I am accountable to Him. If I am wise, I will walk in His ways without regard for my own ambitions, strength, wisdom, or position. I will be His servant, His disciple. The problem is this. I cannot in my own strength please God. I am a sinner. None of these animals is very capable but outside of the natural order, they would be incapable of survival. When humankind left God’s natural order through the sin of Adam, we set ourselves up for spiritual extinction. That is why we need faith in Christ. He came and died for our sin and our salvation.
D. That is why I can (if I want to) battle self-exaltation, I can live confidently according to my position in Christ (verses 29-31). To be humble does not mean to feel inferior. True, we are not God but the believer in Christ does not need to go around with an inferiority complex.
Another story from Chuck Swindoll, this time from “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back”: “A man paid a visit to his local psychologist. When the doctor asked him what had prompted the visit, the man said, “I’m suffering from an inferiority complex.” After a long battery of tests, “…the doctor called the man and asked him to return to the clinic. ‘I have some interesting news for you,’ the doctor began.
‘What’s that?’ asked the man.
‘It’s no complex,’ the psychologist retorted, ‘You are inferior.’”
We as believers in Christ, however, are not inferior because we are in Him through our faith in Christ.
a. I am exalted and worthy in Christ. Hebrews 2:9-10 says that Christ brought “…many sons to glory…” through His death for us on the cross. John 1:12 reminds us that we receive the right to become sons of God through faith in Christ. Look at Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we also may be glorified together.” That is a wonderful position – to be a part of the royal family of the universe – heirs with Christ of God’s throne.
b. I can therefore live confidently because of my position. Like a lion, I can walk through the Serengeti of this world without fear because I belong to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ. Like the royal greyhound, I can stick my chest out and proudly display the royal decorations that my Master has given me. Like the head goat of the flock, I can confidently walk among the flock because my Savior is my shepherd. When the battle rages, I can go forth as a king because His legions fight for me.
Are you a confident Christian? Not a boastful, proud Christian but a confident Christian? You can be because of your faith in Jesus Christ which has made you one of God’s children.
E. Finally, if I am to battle self-exaltation, if I am to learn humility, I must learn to control my tongue (verses 32-33). The tongue has many uses both positive and negative. No use of the tongue, however, is more evil or more dangerous than the self-exalting tongue.
a. My tongue reveals the pride and sinful foolishness of my heart. Now most of us do not go around telling people how great we are but we use words in many ways to build ourselves up. We are constantly critiquing others, their success or lack thereof, their looks, their children, their lifestyle choices. We need to put our hands over our mouths. We constantly talk about our own accomplishments, our own possessions, our own abilities. We need to put our hands over our mouths. We quote Scripture in a self-justifying way, pass down judgments, pass along gossip, defend our great sin and attack the little sins of others, we grumble and complain, we fuss and fight, all revealing how important we are to ourselves. We need to put our hand over our mouth.
b. My pride uses my tongue to sow discord. Just as the humble man is often a peacemaker, the proud man is a warmonger. The proud man when he is right in his argument will destroy people while the humble man may make a mistake in judgment but will even in his mistake seek to heal those whom he has hurt through his mistake.
Five easy steps to humility was intended tongue in cheek but the reality is this: we know how to become humble but we just do not want to do it. Time after time we refuse to take responsibility for our own sin. We act like we are not accountable to God. We refuse to control our tongue. We refuse to do what is right because it does not seem to matter. We forget that our exaltation is to be found in Christ alone.
You can begin right now to humble yourself. Go to God and confess your sin. You may need to go to someone and confess a sin. They probably already know the sin, you just need to admit to it and stop defending yourself.
You might need to begin controlling your tongue. You will probably need someone to help with this. Men, I recommend your wives. They know exactly what you are going to say before you do anyway. Write down the ways in which you regularly sin with your tongue and put a stop to self-exalting speech.
Do what is right, no matter how small the matter is. Your deeds as a Christian are great because you are royalty not because they are impressive.
Finally, hold yourself accountable to God. The unbeliever needs Christ to settle the account of His sin. The believer needs to confess and forsake the sin for which Christ has already died.
Take action now. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up!