“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
How important are the people around you? The answer to that question depends on how you’re looking at it. In an absolute sense, every person is of equal value. No one can claim to be objectively more important or valuable than anyone else. At the same time, in a relative sense, we do value some people more than others. I say this only by means of reflection, not evaluation. The question we need to answer, though, is how we should value the people around us. Paul gives us some wisdom here worth heeding. Let’s take a look at this together.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Yesterday we talked about one of the great paradoxes of the Christian worldview. This was Jesus’ declaration that if we want to save our lives, we must be prepared to lose them. Our conclusion then was that even though these two ideas sound contradictory, they are nonetheless both completely true. This morning we’re going to look briefly at another paradox of the faith. This one appears in various places throughout the Old and New Testaments, so there were multiple different passages we could have looked at. This one from James has a context that puts a little more fire behind the observation. Let’s talk about the greatness found in humility and a good example from a man named, Ted.
As we continue in our series, Standing Firm, this week, we’re finally getting into the heart of Peter’s message. If you want to know how to stand firm in your faith without compromising your witness, you need to read this message. Peter lays it on the line for us and doesn’t let us look away until he’s taken us all the way to the mat. His challenge does not mean we roll over and play dead for anyone. Instead, he’s calling us to stand firm in our identity in Christ and refuse to be made a slave to anyone including ourselves. The way to do this, though, is not what the culture around us would have us believe. The way of Jesus looks entirely different. It takes a great deal more courage and a great deal more strength. Read on and think about how God might be applying this to your situation today.
Submit for Good
Have you ever had a boss you didn’t like? I don’t mean just a little dislike either. I mean, you could not stand even to be in the same room for any longer than you had to be. He was rude. She was demanding. He was demeaning. She micromanaged everything and everyone. It just wasn’t a good situation. Maybe you’ve never had that misfortune, but if you have, how’d you handle that? Used to be the general cultural attitude toward that situation would be for you to just suck it up and persevere through the frustration. You had to work because you had bills to pay and mouths to feed. You needed to be a productive member of society, and that was more important than your feelings about your boss. If you wanted to switch careers, you could, but that wasn’t necessarily going to be an easy process.
“While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he asked, ‘How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself says by the Holy Spirit: “The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'” David himself calls him “Lord”; how then can he be his son?’ And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I remember playing school with my sister one time when I was growing up. I was the teacher and she was the student (which of course is how it worked since I was the older brother and it was my natural right to assign positions between us). I made up a math worksheet for her to do. Feeling a bit prideful in my own abilities, I created an entire sheet of math I had recently learned in class. It was a subtle, jerky way of telling her how much more than her I knew. She couldn’t answer any of them. My own kids occasionally do that to each other. It must be a sibling rite of passage. In a larger sense, though, there’s just nothing quite like a well-placed question to reveal ignorance. The religious leaders were smugly confident in their understanding of the law and of the nature of the Messiah. One question from Jesus, however, stripped them of that entirely. Let’s see how this morning.
“James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said, ‘Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask you.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked them. They answered him, ‘Allow us to sit at your right and at your left in your glory.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever known someone who is truly tone-deaf? Most people have at least some sort of awareness of pitch and harmony and can recognize when they are out of tune with the world around them. But there are some folks who are just clueless. You could play a C for them, ask them to sing it back to you, they’ll sing a strong G, and think they’re right on the money while you shake your head in confusion. Just as much as there are folks out there who are musically tone-deaf, though, there are folks who are socially tone-deaf. These folks manage to not pick up on social cues that would have otherwise clearly indicated to them that whatever it was they were about to do or say wasn’t appropriate to the situation they were in. They charge in like a bull in a china shop, completely oblivious to the impact of their words or actions on the people around them. What we see here is that some of Jesus’ closest followers were afflicted with this condition. We also get a reminder that we sometimes listen to the wrong things too.