Summary: A Communion Meditation and the First of a Seven Part Series, ‘Stepping Stones and Stumbling Blocks to Faith.’
I begin this morning with a couple of questions that I am asking you to reflect on: (Slide 1) Who is the most humble person you know and what makes them that way? Is humility a weakness or a strength?
What is humility anyway?
A man prayed this for his son, ‘Build me a son, O Lord,
who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
and brave enough to face him self when he is afraid;
one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
and humble and gentle in victory.’
Toward then end of the prayer he says,
Give him humility, so that he may always remember
the simplicity of true greatness,
the open mind of true wisdom,
the meekness of true strength.
It is interesting to note that the man who is credited with this prayer was General Douglas MacArthur considered by many of his day as anything but humble! In fact he closes his prayer with
‘Then I, his father, will dare to whisper,
"I have not lived in vain."
But it is a moving prayer and it is a good prayer because humility is a very essential characteristic of a God honoring life.
(Slide 2) One of the sources that I consulted for today said that humility is ‘a prominent Christian grace. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; it preserves the soul in tranquility, and makes us patient under trials.’
(I thought that patience makes us patient!)
For the next seven weeks, we are going to examine seven important qualities that I am calling ‘Stepping Stones’ to faith. Here they are… (Slide 3)
Diligence (which will be on Mother’s Day)
These are important qualities that the Holy Spirit wants to develop in our lives and I also believe that these were the qualities on Jesus’ mind when He addressed the disciples in John 15 through 17 in the Upper Room. They are very much rooted in love and obedience, are they not? (As well as being characteristics of a humble person.)
Our friend there in the upper left corner of the slide illustrates the challenges we have of walking on stepping stones amidst some very big stumbling blocks in our way. And the Bible alludes to these stepping stones and stumbling blocks directly and indirectly.
In Matthew 18 Jesus said, ‘But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.’ The children mattered to Jesus (and they still do) and we matter to God as well. His warning about being a stumbling block is one that we need to take seriously.
But these stepping stones (and the stumbling blocks as well) are metaphors for our character and the choices we make that makes or breaks our character and which also makes or breaks our faith. The Bible clearly teaches that our character and our faith must be built on Christ and what He has done for us.
One of the most important passages about the foundations of our life is found in Luke 6:46 through 49 (Slide 4) “So why do you call me ‘Lord,’ when you won’t obey me? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me.
(Slide 5) It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built.
(Slide 6) But anyone who listens and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins.”
Many times on television we have seen the destruction of someone’s home when the foundation collapses because of heavy rains and saturated ground. Notice how Jesus ties in the issue of obedience to Him to the kind of foundation that is selected. Stepping stones create a foundation that is based on obedience. Stumbling blocks, which are constant challenges to us and at times, seem overwhelming, create a flawed life foundation.
One of the stepping stones God wants us to stand on and to build our life upon is ‘humility.’ (Slide 7)
Our main text for this morning is Proverbs 11:2 which says (Slide 8) Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
The contrast created by the results of the two different characters is very sharp. We have seen, and experienced in one form or another, disgrace because of our pride. We have also experience the life enriching power and warmth of wisdom as we humble ourselves before God.