Illustration results for humility
How many of you have seen the modern-day Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story?” It’s a great movie about one family’s Christmas season and a little boy’s mission to receive the Cadillac of BB guns as a present. The Miano family watches this movie every year. Whenever I see the scene of Ralphie being forced to try on the bunny pajamas, I think of the purple turtleneck sweaters my grandmother would get me every year. I hated those sweaters—and I had to wear them whenever grandma came over.
The movie is filled with scenes that will take you back to the nostalgia of your childhood. Another such scene is one in which the tongue plays a prominent role. The scene involves Ralphie, whose adult counterpart narrates the entire movie, and Ralphie’s friends, Flick and Schwartz.
We find the three boys, along with a bunch of other kids, huddled around the school flagpole. It is a cold and snowy day, and everyone is bundled up like Eskimos. The scene begins with Schwartz trying to convince Flick that his tongue would stick to the flagpole. Flick told Schwartz he was “full of it.” Schwartz responds by issuing a “double-dog dare” to Flick. The camera pans to Ralphie and the group of kids who all gasp at the challenge.
Flick is momentarily taken aback by the challenge, but quickly smiles and says that it would be stupid for him to put his tongue on the flagpole. The narrator returns and explains the etiquette of the dare. He explains that proper form would be to follow his “double-dog dare” with a “triple-dare-you.” If this challenge was not met, then, and only then, should Schwartz go to the worst of the worst—“the triple-dog dare.”
But Schwartz, determined to see his friend’s tongue stuck to the flagpole, goes for the jugular and, with the authority of a nine-year-old, issues a “triple-dog dare.” You can see the panic on Flick’s face as he realizes that he has no choice but to place his tongue on the flagpole. To do otherwise, to refuse a “triple-dog dare” challenge, would be tantamount to playground cowardice.
So with some false bravado, and a lot of uncertainty, Flick sticks out his tongue and touches it to the flagpole. Any guesses as to what happened? Yep. It stuck like a bug on flypaper. Of course, Flick panicked and started to squeal like a little girl (no offense ladies). The school bell rang, which made it convenient for Flick’s good friends, Ralphie and Schwartz, along with all of the other kids, to scramble back to class, leaving Flick alone in his moment of shame and pain.
Pride got in the way of Flick making a wise decision. Pride caused Flick to say and do things he should not have done. The moral of the story is that the pride of the tongue, the pride of speech, if you will, can stick us with some very serious consequences. And this is what James addresses in verse one and the first half of verse two, in chapter three.
The comedian Jim Carrey stars in the movie Bruce Almighty. He plays a TV reporter who thinks his being overlooked for promotions and various other misfortunes mean that God doesn’t care, or at least has let him down. When God, played by Morgan Freeman, shows up to offer Bruce His own power for a season to see if he can do any better with it, Bruce accepts the deal.
Soon Bruce is indulging himself in the fulfillment of his fantasies and manipulating his way to the coveted anchor position. This obsession with advancement causes an estrangement with his girlfriend Grace, who discovers how low down on the priority list she has become.
Bruce discovers that a part of God’s job is answering prayers, and there are billions of them. Lacking God’s wisdom, he grants a blanket “Yes” to all requests, and trouble begins. Not only that, but because he can’t violate human free will, he finds he is losing Grace, and all the power in heaven and earth cannot make her come back to him. His ambition, coupled with great power, has resulted in his life being a bigger mess than ever.
In one of the best scenes of submission to God’s will ever put on film, Bruce realizes he has much to be thankful for, and that someone else can run his life better than himself. He learns that he is not fulfilled by the desired promotion, but by serving others with his God-given gifts (“My Will Be Done, Alex Wainer, Breakpoint).
HARDLY SAFE: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
If you have ever been through a tornado. ... One personal encounter with a power that before was only theoretical can make all the difference. You live differently after that. You respect the power. You live in awe of its presence and tremble to think of its potential. Above all, you live in profound humility because you recognize your inability to control it.
If all this for tornadoes, then what of the Almighty God? I am reminded of the quote from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Mr. Beaver describes the might and majesty of Aslan, the lion-God. When he finishes, Lucy asks, "Is--is he safe?" Replies Mr. Beaver: "Safe? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you." This is our God: hardly safe but thoroughly good. We cling to the King in fear, but much too afraid to let go.
(Don Ratzlaff in The Christian Leader (April 23,1991). Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 10)
"Nothing we have is attributable to our own strengths and talents. People think so. It’s an attitude that was expressed very effectively by James Stewart’s character in the movie, “Shenandoah”. He was the patriarch of a large Southern family, running a very successful plantation when the Civil War broke out.
Early in the movie the family sat down for dinner, and as they all bowed their heads, this is what he prayed:
’Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway for this food we are about to eat. Amen’
Spoken or unspoken, I think that may be the attitude of far to...
ILLUSTRATION... Star Wars Episode I
The Trade Federation is angling to take over the planet of Naboo, placing Queen Amidala, its ruler, in peril. The incursion sets off a galactic political struggle. One of the pivotal points in the movie comes when the Queen seeks out the other inhabitants of the world to form an alliance. They have never been on friendly terms and never really talked with one another. But now they have a common enemy that threatens them both.
The Queen goes to ask for assistance in helping to defend their world. The chance of these folks helping is slim to none. Yet, when Queen Amidala approaches the leader, she does something unexpected... she bows. The Queen bows. In humbleness and respect she asks for their help. There is silence for a moment. Then the leader, Boss Nass, a huge alien looking creature starts to laugh. No one knows if this is a laugh of “you silly people” or some other kind of laugh. He laughs and explains that he likes that she does not put herself above them. He agrees to help and to fight. What made the difference. The difference was the humility of the Queen.
During WWII the 101st Airborne Division spearheaded some major battles in Europe. They fought in places like Bastone where they were pounded with heavy artillery--then asked to advance toward Berlin against fierce opposition. Many lives were lost. Many who survived were highly decorated soldiers. Years later one of those men was asked by his grandson, “Grandpa, when you were in the war were you a hero?” He answered, ”No, but I served with some men who were.”
(From an interview shown on Band of Brothers, HBO special directed by Steven Spilberg.
Show DVD The Passion Of The Christ – The scene where we see the attitude of Jesus Christ in the Garden.
1. It’s an attitude of self-denial
a. The willingness to say “Yes God!” I will do good even if they persecute me for it.
2. It’s a servants attitude
a. A servant seeks to please His Lord and does not allow others to distract Him from doing what is right for His Master!
3. It’s a no revenge attitude!
a. It’s an attitude of giving mercy even when they make you suffer for doing good.
iii. Let me ask, “Is your attitude like Jesus? Or is you attitude about living this life for yourself!” – allowing your selfish desires to control you?
Remember the show, “To Tell the Truth?” There would be one person who did something strange or different perhaps for a living while two others would try to pretend to be that person. The object was to try and fool the panel of stars and the audience. Sometimes the person would be something strange like a “professional nose picker.” At the end the real person would stand up.
As I thought about this passage from Matthew 6:24, I thought about loving one master and hating another. And I thought about some alcoholics that I know both practicing and recovered. I thought about the effect that addictions have upon people. They end of hating this “master” because they are enslaved and can’t get out. Usually end up hating themselves and everyone around them.
Jesus talks about the master of Mammon. I like the word “mammon” as a translation rather than money. For mammon is more than just money. It is greed. It is desire. In fact, the connotation is that this greed for money goes beyond just money but includes the power and privilege. It gives us the sense that this mammon is almost alive. That this particular sin because alive and begins to devour us. Paul uses the same type of imagery. Thus the darkness within us because exceedingly great! Just a little more. Gambling has that affect. Deal or No Deal is a great example. The show is about gambling. How far can you push it and what is the most that you can walk away with.
Runaway desires. Tithing and fasting are ways to work against these desires. To train them. Tame them! Tithing, fasting, and even baptism act out a different reality. A new reality of God’s Kingdom. Baptism is a symbolic way to act out the new reality of being a follower of Jesus--that God is now the Lord and King of our lives not mammon. By being baptized we align our lives toward the Kingdom life and Kingdom values, which are opposed to the values of mammon. The memory of one’s baptism (one Lord, one baptism) can then become a marker to "tame" our struggles with rampant materialism. It can become a sort of litmus test.
All these actions are revealing a change of masters.
Alcoholics know that one of the most effective way to maintain sobriety and recovery is to tell on their disease. Take ownership of their difficulties, their character defects, their sins. To tell the truth.
To Tell the Truth
• On our masters
Who are your masters? Jesus says we can only have one. Anything but God will consume you. Job, business (e-myth), health care system, money, shopping, gambling, drugs (prescription and illegal). Tell on the truth. This is what I struggle with.
• On ourselves
This is me. I’m not perfect. This is who I want to be. In terms of the specifics of the passage, admitting that I am not as generous as I should be. There can be only one.
In one of readings for today from Luke 12:13-21, Jesus is first asked to make a judgment. It is a cry for justice. Tell the story.
Generosity towards others is generosity towards God.
As much as some of us struggle to please two masters and we try, we cannot. “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”
Col. 3 talks about putting to death things that want to rule us and as I translate can become or are our masters: fornication, impurity, evil desires, greed, anger wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth, lying. Put on these clothes: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, forbearance, love, gratitude.
How? Daily examination. Teaching others. Admonish which means to encourage while gently correcting. Being thankful not condemnation. To tell the truth of first ourselves. Confession.
Van Gogh. The use of yellow in his later paintings were a sign of hope: of starting over with a new master. We can start over with a new master. We all need that hope. We need that assurance that we can start over.
This is what worship is about. A new start. To a new creation. To a new week. To a new life. No matter who or what is your old master: stress at work, conflict with a boss, conflict with a family member, divorce and struggling to glue pieces back together, overwhelming bills maybe because of overspending, illness that never seems to end, the joys and trials of raising children, death of a friend or family member, houses and cars and other stuffs that “never end,” a family member that is in the throes of addiction. To tell the truth is to say I don’t have the answers so I resolve to start afresh in trusting God. Some of us constantly need that hope that I can start again today and that these trials and such will not last forever (even when we can see no end in sight). God can.