Be Like Jesus: Who Am I Becoming?

Virtue 10 - Humility

BELIEVE – Virtue 10 - Humility

Bill Burnett

New Life Chapel

Hesperia, Calif.


This is the 30th sermon in the Book BELIEVE.  

We did 10 sermons on WHAT DO WE BELIEVE.  

We did 10 sermons on WHAT DO WE PRACTICE.  

And… 10 weeks ago  we started the last part of this series WHO ARE WE BECOMING.

Basically… we are studying the Fruit Of The Spirit.

Key Verse: Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) 3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.


Key Question: What does it mean to value others before myself?


Key Idea: I choose to esteem others above myself.


Paul W. Powell once observed: “Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices.”


Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) 18  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 

Pride goes before the fall!  Prov. 16:18


In a certain pond, there were two ducks and a frog who were neighbors and the best of friends. They played together all day long during the summer time. But as the cold drew near and the water dried up, the ducks realized they would have to move. This would be easy for them, but what about their friend the frog? Finally it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, and then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth and they would fly him to another pond. And so they did. Just then, a farmer looked up and said to his wife, "What a great idea! I wonder who thought of that?"  Proudly, the frog said, "I did!" Thus illustrating: "Pride goes before a fall!" 



Key Verse: Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) 3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.


In 1884, King Humbert of Italy was awakened at midnight by a messenger informing him that an epidemic of cholera had broken out in Naples. Though the king was scheduled to be in Monza the next day for a magnificent reception, he telegraphed his hosts: “Banquet at Monza; cholera at Naples; I am going to Naples. If you don’t see me again, good-bye.”


John Stoddard tells what happened from there:

On reaching Naples, King Humbert found only the common people at the station to receive him. The rich, the aristocracy, and even most of the officials had fled. The king, however, did not care for that. It was the people he had come to save. For weeks, he worked incessantly to check the plague and to relieve the sufferers; he entered the hospitals, took the hands of the sick and dying into his own, and by his example shamed others into duty. After a week, one of his ministers said to him, “Your Majesty, there were three thousand, four hundred cases yesterday. This is getting to be alarming. Ought you not to return to Rome?” “You may go if you like,” replied the king. “I shall remain till I see Naples free from cholera.” And he kept his word.

When a king descends his throne to serve those he rules and to risk his life, it is the best picture of the meaning of humility


Isn’t this what Jesus did for us? He stepped off his throne and humbled himself and became a man. (Phil.2:6-8


Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV) 6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

In most kingdoms, the people offer their lives to save the king; King Jesus offered his life to save the people.


Humility has nothing to do with humiliation. It’s not about maintaining a low self-esteem or having a lack of confidence


Jesus certainly did not suffer from low self-esteem, and yet he lived a life of complete humility. 


Many have come to view a humble Christian as a virtual doormat for others. 


In reality, a believer has a strong sense of self-worth and a secure position of identity as one who no longer feels the need to elevate the flesh or pump up personal pride. 


King Humbert was still the king, whether he was sitting on the throne in Rome or serving on his knees in the cholera ward in Naples. 


The state of his heart is what determined his true place and position.


With respect to our physical appearance, the word modesty connotes not flaunting our features, to avoid revealing ourselves in such a way that makes others uncomfortable or invites the wrong attention. 


Think of humility as the modesty of the heart. We work to not flaunt who we are, or be revealing of our self in a way to make others uncomfortable or to invite the wrong attention to who we are. 


For the Christian, humility means life is not “all about me,” but rather all about God and others.


In the book of Proverbs, Solomon sums it up this way: 


Proverbs 15:33 (ESV) 33  The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Humility is the opposite of arrogance. An arrogant person wants their presence to dominate a room, while a humble person desires to make their contribution in a room to be about those who are in it. 


Practicing humility is not about blending into the wall and not being noticed; it’s about being open and unassuming to bring out the best in those around us. 


Arrogance often makes assumptions as to what others may think or feel, while humility will make no such assumptions. 


A humble person is warm and welcoming to anyone with whom they come into contact.


When Jesus attended a dinner where people were jockeying for the best seats, he told a story about seeking the lowest place and then being invited to relocate to a better place. 


He summed up the teaching in these words: 


Luke 14:11 (ESV) 11  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

In Jesus’ view, those who desire to exalt themselves are at the opposite extreme of those who are his followers. 


In the end, his kingdom will be revealed as contrary to the way things are in this present world. 


All those who have lived to be exalted will instead be humbled, while those who have served both him and neighbor will be rewarded. 


Jesus modeled this in His own life, the ONE who is described as the Lion of Judah came as the LAMB of God! WHY? Because His coming was not about Him but about US - Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!


Scripture consistently connects humility and wisdom. 


Consider this insight of Solomon in the book of Proverbs: 


Proverbs 11:2 (ESV) 2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  

Or this one from James in the New Testament:

 James 3:13 (ESV) 13  Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 

In a masterful way, wisdom brings together knowledge, life experience, and a personal skill set that allow a person to live life successfully. 


The wise person has is not threatened by anyone else’s position, for they are secure in their own. Thus, the wise person is free to be a humble person.


We would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Scripture more eligible for God’s Hall of Fame than Moses


But look at how Numbers 12:3 describes this pillar of the Old Testament: 


Numbers 12:3 (NKJV) 3  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

This is a strong indicator of the fact that God chose him and blessed his life.


The man in Scripture who may have been the most humbled by God also ended up becoming one of the most effective men in the history of God’s kingdom.   


When we are first introduced to Saul in Acts 7, he is overseeing Stephen’s execution. 


This well-educated leader had taken on the mission to single-handedly wipe out all Christ followers. 


Acts 8:3 (ESV) 3  But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

But in Acts 9, everything changed. Humility came when Saul was confronted by Jesus.


Acts 9:5-9 (ESV) 5  And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6  But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 

Paul’s teachable spirit brought him to the place to later write to the Romans…


Romans 12:3 (ESV) 3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

What an amazing contrast, which once again proves the fruit that Christ can bring to a surrendered and submitted life!


KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?


  • Humility brings a secure knowledge of identity in Christ.


Christ offers us a new life in all aspects, thus creating a new identity. His death and resurrection provide security now and into eternity. 


Our newfound knowledge of what he has done for us produces a grateful and humble state of the heart, as we continually find our life and breath in him, as 


Luke reminds us in the book of Acts: 


Acts 17:28 (ESV) 28  for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 

  • Humility brings the freedom to elevate and to esteem others.


With our new position in Christ, we now have all the resources we need to live out the greatest commandments — to love God and neighbor. 


The continual growth of humility allows us to feel no threat or insecurity in placing God’s will and others’ needs ahead of our own. We are set free in our souls to serve.

  • Humility redirects all our relationships to be about the well-being of others.

Once we learn to consistently esteem others above ourselves, the next step is to care for people in the way Jesus would have us care. 


We seek to serve all those with whom we are in relationship. We no longer use others as a means to our own end, but we make it a practice to ask how we can be a part of God’s plan for people. We seek to follow 


Paul’s advice: 


1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV) 24  Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

This is simply modeling the life Christ led on earth.

  • Humility brings a deep sense of caring for the people in our circles.


As Jesus moved through the crowds, he had an amazing ability to find those with the greatest needs. 


From the woman who touched his garment, to Zacchaeus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught living in adultery, no one was exempt from Jesus’ attention and care. Income, education, gender, & cultural status had no bearing on his ministry to people. 


Everywhere he went, he looked out in compassion for those who needed him. 


This, too, is our job description, driven from a humble heart to serve as he served. From convenience store clerk to doctor, from homeless man or woman to politician, we treat everyone the same. 

  • Humility brings a desire to reflect Christ in all things.


The ultimate humility is found when we place our heart in the constant position of putting God’s glory first and seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness.(Matt.6:33


The more we immerse ourselves into the ministry of Christ to others, the more we experience the abundant life he offers. Seeing him change lives through our obedience is humility at its finest hour.


For growing Christians, a strong sense of self-esteem flows from “God-esteem” on the inside, which frees us to focus on “others-esteem.” 


When they enter any conversation with a neighbor, the prayer is, Dear God, help me place this person above myself and draw them to you


As the world becomes increasingly self-absorbed, humility will not only be one of the most attractive and refreshing fruit of God’s Spirit to a searching and hurting world, but also a great blessing to our own lives in offering our hearts daily to the Lord, as we exalt him and him alone. 


These verses of Scripture point us to this great blessing:


Proverbs 22:4 (ESV) 4  The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. 

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5  Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

Jesus humbled himself, and in due time, God the Father “exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”


He promises to do the same for us: 


James 4:10 (ESV) 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 

  • Humility is something we can do to ourselves


Jesus “humbled himself.” 


It is an act of lowering ourselves, to bring low or make low. 


One way this happens in the Scriptures is through prayer and fasting


Throughout the Bible when people “humbled themselves” they did so through “prayer and fasting.” 


Prayer puts us in a position of acknowledging there is One greater than us. And in fasting we deny ourselves as we seek God and put him first.


  • We humble ourselves when we are obedient to God


Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient.” 


The act of obedience to God should not be overlooked. Any time we follow the instruction of God we are taking ourselves off the throne of our lives and placing him there instead. It is an act of humility.


  • We humble ourselves through confession and repentance. 

In Luke 18:10-14 Jesus tells a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray.

Luke 18:10-15 (ESV) 10  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 15  Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 

Paul speaks to this in the church in Romans 12:3 when he tells us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but to “think with sober judgment.” 

He doesn’t use the word “humble” but he carries the idea here.

Paul is teaching about gifts in the body. He wants the Roman church to know how God has gifted them. 

He just wants them to understand that not one of them has all the gifts. They need each other. 

And they need to work with each other to become all that God intends for them to become. They need humility.

Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna” at the beginning of Passion Week. He was a king. He knew exactly who he was. And yet he entered humbly on the back of a colt. He did it to fulfill prophecy:

Matthew 21:5 (NLT) 5  “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” 

When other conquering kings entered cities on stallions and with great pomp, Jesus humbled himself. He was thinking of us as he mounted that “beast of burden.”

And he wants us to follow the same path that leads to our own Jerusalem’s and our own crosses. It’s a humble path. 

To help you on that journey Dallas Willard once gave the following advice on how to develop humility in our lives.

How To Develop Humility In Our Lives

  • First, never pretend


Be yourself. We all face those tight moments when we are tempted to claim inside knowledge or special talents we don’t possess. 


Or we make quick promises we know we can’t keep. 


Under pressure we may downplay our abilities because we think it makes us appear humble. 


Wrong on all counts. 


True humility claims nothing more or less than the truth. What you see is what you get.


  • Second, never presume


So often we think we know what others are feeling or we act as if we can read minds. 


Humility doesn’t pass judgment on why people do what they do or why they say what they say. 


The humble man realizes he looks on the outward but God alone sees the heart. 


He refrains from snap judgments, hasty conclusions, and negative assumptions. When he doesn’t know, he simply says, “I don’t know.” 


We could save ourselves from a ton of worry if we stopped presuming on the future or on what others might do or say.


  • Third, never push. 


Humility waits for the Lord to move first. Sometimes we get in trouble because we try to force people to do what we want. 


People want to be led, they hate to be pushed. 


They want the freedom to think things through and to come to their own conclusions. 


Here are some questions that may help you: 

  • Do I talk in ways that make it hard for people to know what I really mean? 
  • How often do I assume bad motives in others? 
  • How do I react when others don’t immediately follow my advice? 
  • In what areas of my life am I pushing when I ought to be waiting on the Lord?

This is the path to humility. Never pretend. Never presume. Never push.

Humble yourself. And let God take care of the exalting.