Summary: The key to Humility is 1) Childlikeness 2) Servanthood & 3) Brokenhearted Boldness
One of the greatest joys of the Christmas season is experiencing it with Children. Children have an awe and expectation that goes above any distraction. Many of us adults get bogged down in so many plans and engagements this time of year that it is often the children who remind us of the joy and wonder of Christ in Christmas. We saw it last week with the Bothwell family advent leading and with the kids club presentation during the Christmas dinner.
Scripture describes and identifies the people of God by many names. But more frequently than anything else we are called children-children of promise, children of the day, children of the light, beloved children, dear children, and children of God.
As believers we can rejoice in the wonderful truth that, through Christ, we have become God’s own children, adopted through grace. Consequently, we bear the image of God’s family and are joint heirs with Jesus Christ of everything God possesses. We enjoy God’s love, care, protection, power, and other resources in abundance for all eternity.
But there is another side to our being children, and in Scripture believers are also referred to as children in the sense that we are incomplete, weak, dependent, undeveloped, unskilled, vulnerable, and immature.
Matthew 18 focuses on those immature, unperfected, childlike qualities that believers demonstrate as they mutually develop into conformity to the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.
This chapter is a single discourse or sermon by our Lord on the specific theme of the childlikeness of the believer, speaking directly to the reality that we are spiritual children with all the weaknesses that childhood implies. It is also essential to see that the chapter teaches the church, as a group of spiritually unperfected children how to get along with each other.
The key to Humility is 1) Childlikeness 2) Servanthood & 3) Brokenhearted Boldness
1) The key to Humility is Childlikeness: Matthew 18:1
The setting for the sermon is indicated by the phrase at that time, which refers to a period soon after Jesus told Peter to go to the Sea of Galilee and retrieve the coin from the fish’s mouth (17:27). While Peter was paying the tax with the coin or, more likely, just after he returned, the rest of the disciples came to Jesus, possibly at Peter’s house in Capernaum.
The two scenes are closely connected in time and in thought. On the same day the disciples received the lesson on being citizens of the world they were given a series of lessons on the issues related to being children of God.
The Lord’s teaching was prompted by the disciples themselves, who asked Him a very selfish question that betrayed their sinful ambitions. We learn from Mark and Luke that the question, Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? resulted from an argument the Twelve had been having among themselves “as to which of them might be the greatest” (Luke 9:46; cf. Mark 9:34). Although Jesus omnisciently knew what had happened, He asked, “What were you discussing on the way?” The disciples were so ashamed of their attitude and conversation that “they kept silent” (Mark 9:33-34).
Please turn to 1 Peter 5
Their embarrassed silence shows they knew that what they had been doing was inconsistent with what their Master had been teaching on humility. But the fact that they nevertheless were arguing about their relative ranks in the kingdom shows they were making little effort to apply what they had been taught. They were as proud, self-seeking, self-sufficient, and ambitious as ever. In light of what they had been discussing and the way they phrased the question to Jesus, it is obvious they expected Him to name one of them as the greatest.
1 Peter 5:5-6 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." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, (ESV)
• At year’s end we tend to undergo goal setting endeavors. If it is reasonable, rational and specific, it can be a fruitful exercise.
• The challenge we have being Christians is applying what we believe. We show what is truly important by how we act. We show what we value by the time we spend and the nature of our action.
• Year end can be a fruitful time to take serious stock of our lives and determine if the various thoughts and actions in our life are positively congruent to what we believe.
o When these two things are in harmony, we grow and show the true nature of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Illustration: Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra, was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, he replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm—that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”