Summary: What does it mean to be humble?
Humility - Sacrificing Your Pride
In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. This was a tragedy in and of itself, but the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It was not a technology problem such as a radar malfunction. There was not thick fog in the area. The cause was human selfishness. Each captain was well aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear with ease, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first, and by the time they came to their senses, it was too late.
I think that you will agree that this was a great tragedy amplified by the fact that it could have easily been prevented. After all, all they had to do was turn one of the ships. One turn of the steering wheel would have prevented the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of dollars of equipment. But, selfishness and pride reared its ugly head and clouded the judgment of these high ranking individuals. When this happened, they could not see beyond their own prestige.
As I look to this incident, I remember an important lesson that I learned in history class. You see, by looking at our past, we can learn invaluable lessons from the mistakes of those who have gone before us. As we look at this event, we should see that pride is an enemy of mankind, but have we learned from this mistake? I don’t think we have. Just last week, I watched the confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. In the most famous portion of the hearing, we didn’t learn anything about the qualifications of the judge. Instead, we saw two of our most famous and longstanding senators, Arlen Spector and Ted Kennedy, fighting to decide who had more power. For 10 minutes, they went back and forth with verbal assaults and power trips as one tried to gain a foothold over the other. Some called it a power trip. I call it the disease of pride. Neither would back down for fear that they would look inferior to the other.
As God’s holy church, we should be doing everything we can to make ourselves appealing to the outside world. This should include being a people void of this pride that is so distasteful, but the church has always had a problem in this area. It is so easy to fall into the trap of pride. This morning, I want to take a look at a great Scripture that deals with this issue. Let’s turn to Philippians 2:1-11.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by becoming like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.
This Scripture takes a very thorough look at the topic of humility and pride. It shows us the problems of pride, the example of Jesus, and also provides some solutions to living a humble life. Before we get into these issues, let’s ask the Lord to bless our time.
The Problem of Pride
I want to start this section by looking at our passage in Philippians. Paul starts this passage with a plea to the church. He tells them that he wants them to make his “joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, becoming one in spirit and purpose.” He wants this church to be one in which everyone is on the same page. They all want the same things. They all love each other, and they are all heading in the same direction. Doesn’t that sound like a great church? In fact, when we look at the church in the United States, this type of church sounds like a pipe dream.