Summary: Humility recognizes that what I am and what I can ultimately be is by the grace of God. The result is humble pride leads to eternal confidence.
Luke 18:9-14 (New International Version)
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10¡§Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ¡¥God, I thank you that I am not like other men¡Xrobbers, evildoers, adulterers¡Xor even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.¡¦
13¡§But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ¡¥God, have mercy on me, a sinner.¡¦
14¡§I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.¡¨
INTRODUCTION: The cancer of pride.
Vince Lombardi was the coach of the Green Bay Packers during their glory years in the 1960s. Lombardi was known for his monstrous ego, unwavering self-confidence and gargantuan pride. Stories about Lombardi abound - some fact, some fiction. One story tells of the occasion when Lombardi was at a championship playoff game. His wife was not able to attend the game. The odds were against the Packers winning the game, but they won the game anyhow. Coach Lombardi was thrilled with his team’s winning effort. When he got home, his wife was already in bed fast asleep. But when his ice-cold feet touched her legs, she said, "God, your feet are cold." Quick as a flash, Lombardi replied, "When we’re in bed, just call me Vince."
Pride has been elevated to the level of a virtue in the world of American sports and entertainment. We chuckle about stories of proud people, like Lombardi’s cold feet. But we’re nauseated when we come face to face with an arrogant person who looks down his nose at us like we’re a lower form of life.
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) calls pride a spiritual cancer that eats up the very possibility of love and contentment, and even common sense (Mere Christianity). Pride is 1 of the 7 deadly sins. Pride is a spiritual cancer that damages our souls, harms everyone in its path and breaks God’s heart.
Jesus condemns the sin of pride in the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18 because he knows what an inaccurate picture such arrogant pride can bring.
Yet at times we have made the mistake of going to far to the other extreme, as if being humble is equated with being humiliated.
True greatness in God’s eyes comes not in exalting ourselves over others. True greatness comes in humbling ourselves as servants of others. Christ exemplified humility in humbling Himself in becoming a man and dying on the cross. Stay proud. As it says through out the Bible, pride goeth before the fall.
Did you know that the word humility comes from the word humus which means soil or dirt? God created us out of the dust of the earth. One day we all return to the dirt once again. We are what we are by the grace of God.
Yet humility is more than just a recognition of a dirt beginning, real humility is a recognition of divine action through our lives. The danger of pride is that we defy ourselves, equating our value with God’s. Humility recognizes that what I am and what I can ultimately be is by the grace of God.