Series – 2 Weeks: Humble Pie
I don’t know if you’ve heard the story about the ephemeral fly. The premise basically, is you have this aged, ailing old fly, who’s giving advice and counsel about life to his grandchildren. And it sounds like he’s had all these great and diverse experiences. Until you get to the end of the story, and the conceit is this kind of fly only lives for 24 hours.
And in his own eyes, he’s so wise. But for our perspective, you can only learn so much in 24 hours.
And I hope you can see yourself in that story. That we as humans can live to 100 if we’re extremely fortunate, and though that seems like a long time to us, from an eternal perspective, 100 years isn’t enough time to learn all that much.
That no matter how well you spend your time on earth, what you DO know will always be drawled by what you DON’T know.
Gigantic theme in the bible. Incredible how peoples arrogance and pride can stop them from coming and receiving from God, but God gives grace to the humble.
Wind in Faces
In Christian communities like this one, we talk about lots of different topics. And so if you take a topic like, I don’t know, let’s say “Caring for the Poor”, which scripture says every Christian must do. Well when we talk about that, we have the cultural wind to our backs.
What does that mean? It’s means that culture says “Great, we’re really glad you Christians wanna talk about that. We care about that too.” We have the wind to our back.
But the subject of humility, and what the Bible says humility is, we have the cultural wind in our faces. Modern people roll their eyes at the biblical concept of humility.
A recent author said it like this, when discussing modern culture:
“Humility came under attack in the ensuing decades. Self-effacement became identified with conformity and self-repression. A different ethos came to the fore, which the sociologists call ‘expressive individualism.’ Instead of being humble before God and history, moral salvation could be found through intimate contact with oneself and by exposing the beauty, the power and the divinity within.”
Modern culture celebrates the proud and the arrogant. They teach us that you’re supposed to celebrate yourself. And your own truth, and your own brilliance.
I mean look at Facebook. Self-importance is not an error, it’s an achievement.
Also true in business. In todays business culture : Arrogance isn’t sinful, it’s just good business. It’s how you become president. Diminish your own shortcomings and highlight their shortcomings.
There are so many different ways that pride comes in and destroys.
- Relationships w/ God
And there are a lot of deep, spiritual reasons for this , but even on the surface: Arrogant people are horrible to be around.
- I truly believe that one of the main reasons marriages don’t work out is because both people for some reason become completely unable to humble themselves and admit that they’re wrong. Or if they do admit they’re wrong, they do it in a way that’s really motivated by ‘being the bigger person’ and boy do they let you know it.
- I believe that one reason people never connect to a church community is because they’re totally unable to humble themselves and open up and allow for real connection.
And I hope that you’re able to make a message like this personal.
It’s so easy to hear messages and think “Man, I wish so and so would hear this.” It’s a lot easier to fix other people than yourself.
I’d like to take you on a quick journey through scripture to see what God’s attitude is towards the proud and the arrogant.
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. (Psalm 138:6)
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)
“Behold, I am against you, O proud one, declares the Lord GOD of hosts, for your day has come, the time when I will punish you. (Jeremiah 50:31)
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b)
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12)
Does anyone here think that God is being unclear here?
I feel like that’s pretty strong language. Of all the stupid things I could do, and I could do a lot of them, it certainly appears that being arrogant is a bad choice.
This theme is constantly played out with Jesus and the religious people of the day – the pharisees.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: (Luke 18:9)
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (Luke 18:10)
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. (Luke 18:11)
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ (Luke 18:12)
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13)
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
Here’s where things get tough when you talk about humility.
Humility is kind etherial, abstract. It’s almost hard to talk about.
Can you brag about being humble? I don’t think so. Because then you wouldn’t be humble.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)
What’s really crazy, is Moses wrote this.
Unaware And I think pride and arrogance go in the category of sins we’re unaware of committing.
Pompous arrogant jerks don’t think they’re arrogant. They just think they’re awesome. Most people don’t think they’re arrogant, they just think they’re good at what they do.
Space between pride and fall They’re in the space between pride and the fall. Scripture says that pride comes before the fall. So the fall comes after pride. So there’s a time when you’re proud, but still standing. But scripture says “Not for long.”
Challenging to navigate this idea of humility vs. pride. So for this first week, I have 3 ways to protect against arrogance, and with each I have a litmus test to that will tell you if you have some room to improve.
And then next week we’re going to go through some humble practices. Practical ways that you can PRACTICE being humble.
3 Ways – protect against arrogance.
1. Understand and acknowledge your weaknesses.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 – How the body of Christ works.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. (1 Corinthians 12:14)
If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. (1 Corinthians 12:15)
And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? (1 Corinthians 12:16)
If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? (1 Corinthians 12:17)
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. (1 Corinthians 12:18)
How strange a body would be if it had only one part! (1 Corinthians 12:19)
Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. (1 Corinthians 12:20)
Lots of things to learn here. Here’s one:
No one is everything.
We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Some of us are eyes, some of us are ears, some of us are feet. Nobody is the whole body.
Here’s the implication: You need help. You can’t do and be everything.
This is why, at this church, we take the idea of community so seriously. So we come together, you cover my weaknesses, and I cover yours and together we’re stronger. So you’re freed up to know what you do well and what you do poorly.
Pride Litmus Test 1
You’re arrogant if you think you don’t have any weaknesses.
You’re proud if you say : I don’t have any weaknesses! What are you talking about?
“I don’t have any weaknesses. What are you talking about? What do you need? You need me to drive something, build something, teach something, lead something? What do you need, Pastor? I’ve got you.” That would be arrogant.
But get ready, the opposite is also true:
You’re arrogant if you think you don’t have any strengths.
You’re so talentless, and weak, and insecure!
That’s also arrogance. Why? Because you’re minimizing God’s ability move through you despite your weaknesses. God loves using weak people.
Think about it, who in the bible do you think could be on staff here at this church?
King David? – Nah, that guys sleeps around..
Paul? – Couldn’t pass the background check – “Hey about those 150 people you murdered. You still struggle with that?”
But God comes and offers redemption.
So it’s arrogance to think you can do everything. And it’s arrogance to think you can do nothing.
(Protect against arrogance)
2. Stay Curious
Curiosity is basically a playful acknowledgment that you don’t know something. So I think of it as a protection against pride.
As we grow up, we must always resist the temptation to stop being curious. About :
- The Bible
- The World
The temptation when you get older is to become crusty and uncurious.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (Psalm 8:3)
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4)
You can see David’s curiosity, and how that is producing in him, humility.
Pride Litmus Test 2
You’re arrogant if you’re not curious, but instead, you like to speak up even when you’re ignorant.
Ever known anyone like this? There’s an expert at the table, and there’s also this other person who always throws in their 2 cents.
Pilot. – You’re sitting down with a Pilot. Talking about how amazing it is. And then there’s your one friend who’s like “Yeah, lift and thrust?” When I was a kid, I’d stick my hand out the window and do this thing (going up and down with the breeze) is that basically what it is? That’s what it’s like guys.”
The rest of the group is like “Shut Up. Let the pilot talk. Ask the pilot a question. You got a pilot here.”
Our inability to let someone else be the expert, is pride.
Curiosity is a mark of the humble. Asking questions. “I don’t know! This guy knows!”
(Protect against arrogance)
3. Learn to acknowledge others.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
So it’s saying we are to encourage the strengths of others. Not point out where they mess up, but where they are great.
Just a small point : Often times the people we really struggle with are the people who are, in a lot of ways, a lot like us. So we bump heads. And it’s really hard to pay an honest compliment. Unless you’re doing it to prove that you’re the bigger man. Which is of course the opposite of humility.
Church Leadership TEAM.
One thing you may not know about this church, is that we have a leadership TEAM. And I oversee a number of different departments.
When it comes time to make some decisions, I lead a team that makes the decision together.
You’d be amazed at how often I lose votes.
And you might be thinking “Nah man, you’re the boss, you lead those departments, the decisions always comes from you.” That’s arrogant nonsense.
Nobody is everything.
As the leader of certain parts of this ministry, one thing I do is I set the tone. I’m always trying to acknowledge the strengths of others. And empower others.
Pride Litmus Test 3
You’re arrogant if you struggle to highlight other peoples contribution.
If in every story you tell, you’re always the one wearing the cape, then you’re arrogant. And hard to be around to be honest.
Critically important in relationships.
Only by pride comes contention. (Proverbs 13:10)
Self-Importance is why we fight
No matter how long you’ve been together, ego is something you’ll always have to deal with.
There’s 2 phrases that I think are so transformational to a relationship that I want to repeat them. I’ve been preaching these 2 phrases for years and years and pretty much anyone who has ever been to a marriage counseling appointment with me can recite these:
1. You’re Important Too.
Jordan – Homebody – One thing that’s true in mine and Jordan’s relationship is that Jordan is more of a home-body than I am. To make Jordan happy, all she needs is a comfy blanket on the couch and a TV show. For me, I like to go out and do stuff! Go play a sport, go hang out with friends, go to the trampoline park.
And so we have this tension of having a preference, but also remembering that the other person is important too.
Jordan might be feeling like “I really want to just stay home and do nothing!!! – But you’re important too.” And I might be thinking “Let’s go out and explore the world! But you’re important too.”
Black belt – Motivated love. And really, the black belt level of relationships is this – you know what the other person wants, and you’re not just motivated by your preference, you’re motivated by your love for your partner. Not trying to express love the way that YOU receive it, but the way THEY receive it.
2. You’re Smart Too.
TV – Recognizing actors. – When we’re watching TV – I’m incredibly good at recognizing actors. But you know what, sometimes I think I know, and I’m wrong. And so, with humility I say “Hey isn’t that guy from back to the future?!” And she might say “No, he does look like him though.” I still think I’m right.
But I can either fight about it. “YES IT IS!” Or, I can remember that Jordan’s smart too.
Friends Sometimes we’ll be hanging out with some friends or congregation members, let’s say a married couple, and one of them starts telling a story about what they did last week, and it’s like “So we went and got Rhubarb Pie.” And their spouse is like “It wasn’t Rhubarb, it was cherry.” “No, it was Rhubarb” “No, it was cherry” And I just want to say “Guys, it’s not even an interesting story. No one gives a flip what kind of pie it is. We’re just waiting for your boring story to be over.”
Arguing about inconsequential stuff is rookie, arrogant nonsense. You remember Rhubarb, they remember Cherry. You think you’re right, but they’re smart too.
Ridiculously small list of things only I’m allowed to be right about.
New couples – You can be right, and you can be kind. But you can’t always be both.
Dreamers fantasize their self-importance; they think they are smarter than a whole college faculty. (Proverbs 26:16 MSG)
So you might be thinking: “Ok Pastor David, got it. But what am I supposed to DO to improve at this?” Well next week, we’ll be going through a list of humble practices and you’re not gonna want to miss it.
Closing Statement: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So those of us who are committed to following Jesus must consistently resist the way of arrogance. No one is everything. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. We must be willing to acknowledge what we do well and what we do poorly. And as we come into relationship with others, we stay curious and we remember that everyone has something to teach us, if we’re open to learning.
Prayer / Invitation