Summary: A sermon showing the need for one to be humble.

Bragging Rights

By Ian Biss 2/17/02

Intro . . .

A Texas rancher met up with a Wisconsin dairy farmer. The two men began talking about their land and the milkman told the cattleman that he operated his business on 125 acres. The Texan scoffed at such a small parcel of land. He said, "Yankee, that ain’t nothin’. On my ranch I can get in my truck at sunrise and I won’t reach the fence line of my property until sunset." The dairy farmer snorted, "Yeah, I used to have a truck like that."

* "Panorama of Parenting," Howard Hendricks, Dallas Theological Seminary, T42PEY

Bragging rights, everybody wants them. Whether it is the biggest house, the fanciest car, the most impressive wardrobe, the most well behaved children, everyone wants to be top dog in some area of life.

This desire to be first is also called pride, and God has something to say to you who would desire to be first.

Read Text, Matt 23:1-12


The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the same as many today, wanted to be looked at and treated as though they are a step closer to God than anyone else. They wanted others to think they had some special bragging rights that the common man lacked. Jesus brings up the fact that these men dressed to draw attention to themselves, they expected men to obey foolish rules that they themselves wouldn’t obey.

These religious leaders wanted to be addressed with special titles, such as Rabbi, and if you were the unfortunate slob to forget to address them as such, you would quickly be reminded and thoroughly shown the error of your ways.

These men thought they were important to God, they thought they were important to men, they thought they were going to be first in the Kingdom. But our God and Savior Jesus Christ doesn’t think too highly of these types of people in fact, He says that if you’re this type of person who seeks to be first, in truth you’re in last place.

I. Humble Yourself, Vs 12


God is not impressed with the pride of men, God is the creator of all things, He makes the birds sing, He makes the sun to shine, He has every hair on your head counted, and, He knows every secret you have ever had. Our great God and King doesn’t need you who He gives the very breath you breathe running around pretending to be more important than you actually are. He loves every one of you, no more, no less than He loves anyone else.


I can do it myself! I look so much nicer than she does since I lost those ten pounds! Boy, is that guy an idiot!

Are you guilty of any of these statements, or statements made that are just as prideful? Pride is what causes you to feel as though you are better, or that you are supposed to be better than someone else. The truth is friends, God is not interested in how great you are, Jesus is interested in how great others are as a result of your influence.


Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents." After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students. Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later: "Dear Miss Thompson, As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stallard." Miss Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat, because she let God use her as an instrument of encouragement.

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Walter Rehberg

commented on Oct 31, 2008

An excellent sermon.

Greg Nance

commented on Nov 6, 2010

Thanks Ian! What a positive message from a difficult text!

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