Summary: It's a myth that godly zeal or that Biblical knowledge produce humility. Instead only the Law can crush pride and the Holy Spirit can produce true humility.
Have you seen “Mythbusters”? It’s a reality show on television which takes a modern myth and tries to disprove it. So far they’ve tackled over 700 myths. Let me just give you a few as an example: Talking to your plants helps them grow. Not true! Toast always falls butter side down. Not true! People only use 10% of their brain. Not true! A bull causes destruction in a china shop. Not true! Food on the floor less than 5 seconds is safe to eat. Not true! The color red makes bulls angry. Not true! You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Not true! Of course you can.
This morning we’re going to deal with two myths that have to do with pride and humility and we’re going to do so using the disciples of Jesus Christ as our models for this. Now before we get started it’s important to look at what the main problem we have: pride.
Pride is something we all struggle with. It plagues us day after day because it’s so very natural. Everyone naturally centers their life around themselves. What does the Scripture say about pride? Let’s just read a few examples:
Isaiah 2:12 “For the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up - and it shall be brought low.”
Jeremiah 50:32 The proud one shall stumble and fall, with none to raise him up, and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all that is around him.
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 29:23 “One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
James 4:6 "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
God makes it extremely clear that pride is deadly to us. It poisons our life. We become blinded to others and to God and end up serving only one person – ourselves! And the most frightening thing about pride is that those who are prideful are blind to it. They don’t realize they have it because it creeps up in your life and slowly builds and builds until this is the normal way of thinking and behaving.
Definition of pride. In Hebrew it comes from the basic word meaning “to rise.” It is very often a positive word – God rises above his enemies and is exalted on his throne in majesty. But the negative side of this is man lifting himself above God or above those around him. It means arrogance, insensitivity, and presumption. The prophets use this negative example over 50 times! Pride is when your world centers on you.
I don’t believe anyone here WANTS to be prideful but we want to avoid that. We just read the horrible consequences of pride. So what must we do to avoid pride and gain humility? And this brings us to our two myths which we will challenge this morning…
The FIRST MYTH is that godly zeal produces humility or godly behavior proves that a person is humble.
Many people believe that today. We see a man or woman who is a passionate follower of Jesus and sacrificial giver and worshiper of the Lord and we conclude that that person is a humble disciple.
Let’s look closer at this. In our text this morning we find Jesus and his disciples at the end of their three years together. They had left their nets and their other occupations in order to follow Jesus. And now they are in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover for the last time with Jesus. Jesus washed their feet. He then shared with them the bread and the wine. No sooner had they finished this holy supper when we read Luke 22:24: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
Remember, these were the handpicked followers of Jesus. They had walked with him for three years and were sent out to preach, to heal, to minister to the crowds. They had walked probably hundreds of miles and lived on handouts for three years when they could have stayed home at their good jobs and lived a normal life. But they left all and followed Jesus! So how do you explain this pride that we find? It flies in the face of our myth!
Zeal does NOT make one humble! Zeal does not prove humility. That should put the fear of God into every one of us! Just because you give more than a tithe – even 90% of your income to the work of God does not mean you don’t have a problem with pride. You can live on the streets and preach to the homeless and still have pride. You can stand in the pulpit, preach, share your personal testimony and still have pride. You can go on a mission trip every year for 20 years and still not be humble. You can be on the worship team and listen only to Christian music, attend Bible studies 4 times a week, never miss a Sunday service and still not be humble.