Summary: When will we learn that the focus is on God not us?
1. William Law said, “Humility is so essential to the right state of our souls that there is no pretending to a reasonable or pious life without it. We may as well think to see without eyes or live without breath as to live in the spirit of religion without the spirit of humility.”
2. One of the things that makes the apostle Paul great was his understand that God alone is great.
3. Paul was Puny.
Philemon 1:1a(NKJV) “Paul…”
I. His Name.
Paul, his Roman name means “little,” and Saul, his Hebrew name means “asked for.”
II. His Nature.
Names were significant in Bible times; Paul’s indicates that he was physically a humble man.
Swindoll, “The Living Bible says it best: "Don’t bother about his letters," some say. "He sounds big, but it’s all noise. When he gets here you will see that there is nothing great about him, and you have never heard a worse preacher!" (2 Cor. 10:10) The critics showed their shallowness with this criticism, but its pain cut deep. Of all their complaints, only this one had a ring of truth, as echoed by an Asian presbyter during the second century:
“[Paul was] a man small in stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked.”
More importantly Paul was spiritually a man of humility, let’s look at this wonderful and rare quality.
A. The Roots of humility is self-knowledge.
Romans 7:14-25 reveals a man who was painfully honest.
Thomas Kempis, “Whoso knows himself well, is lowly in his own sight and delights not in the praises of men.
Teresa of Avila, “Knowing ourselves is something so important that I wouldn’t want any relaxation ever in this regard…While we are on this earth nothing is more important to us than humility.”
Fenelon, “As the inner light increases you will see the imperfections which you have heretofore as basically much greater and more harmful than you had seen them up to the present…But this experience far from discouraging you will help to uproot all your self-confidence and to raze to the ground the whole edifice of pride. Nothing marks so much the solid advancement of a soul, as this view of his wretchedness without anxiety and without discouragement.”
B. The Results of humility.
1. It destroys the Self-kingdom we are all prone to build. 2 Cor. 12:9-11
Pascal, “We are not satisfied with the life we have in ourselves and our own being. We want to lead an imaginary life in the eyes of others, and so we try to make an impression. We strive constantly to embellish and preserve our imaginary being, and neglect the real one.”
William Law, “He that acts upon the desire of praise and applause must part with every other principle; he must say black is white; put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; and do the meanest, bases things in order to get applauded.”
2. But it brings real Freedom. I Cor. 15:9-10a
Gary Thomas, “Humility is at root a celebration of our freedom in Christ; we are freed from having to make a certain impression or create a false front. Humility places within us a desire for people to know us as we are, not as we hope to be, and not as we think they want us to be, or even as we think we should be.
Real growth cannot begin until we come to this point…Humility then is simply admitting what is true; it is the dissolution of all pretenses, a commitment to honesty and real humility.”
3. It refuses to Condemn.
The amazing thing about Rom. 7:14-21, is that it is followed by 8:1!
John of the Cross, “Through this humility acquired by means of self-knowledge individuals are purged of all those imperfections of the vice of pride into which they fell in the time of their prosperity. Aware of their own dryness and wretchedness, the thought of their being more advanced than others does not even occur in its first movements, as it did before; on the contrary they realize that others are better.
From this humility stems love of neighbor, for they will esteem them and not judge them as they did before when they were away that they enjoyed an intense fervor while others did not. These persons will know only their own misery and keep it so much in sight that they will have no opportunity to watch anyone else’s conduct.”
John Owen, “The person who understands the evil in his own heart is the only person who is useful, fruitful, and solid in his beliefs and obedience. Others delude themselves and thus upset families, churches, and all other relationships. In their self-pride and judgment of others, they show great inconsistency.”