Summary: The way to glory even in our pain is clear: humble yourself before God and one another; harden yourself against the devil; and by God’s grace, keep your hope in Him.
Chan Gailey, who just began his second season as head coach for the Buffalo Bills, got his start coaching football at Alabama’s Troy State University. In 1984, with a 12-1 record, he led the Troy State Trojans to a Division II NCAA national championship. A week before the big game, he was headed to the practice field when a secretary called him back to take a phone call.
Somewhat irritated, Gailey told her to take a message because he was on his way to practice.
She responded, “But it's Sports Illustrated.”
“I'll be right there,” he said.
As he made his way to the building, he began to think about the upcoming article. It would be great publicity for a small school like Troy State to be in Sports Illustrated. As he got closer, he realized that a three-page article would not be sufficient to tell the whole story. Coming even closer to his office, he started thinking that he might be on the cover. “Should I pose or go with an action shot,” he wondered. His head was spinning with all of the possibilities.
When he picked up the phone and said hello, the person asked, “Is this Chan Gailey?”
“Yes, it is,” he replied confidently.
“This is Sports Illustrated, and we're calling to let you know that your subscription is running out. Are you interested in renewing?” (Chan Gailey speaking at a dinner in Dalton, Georgia, 4-20-04; www.PreachingToday.com)
Coach Gailey had visions of glory, but then reality set in, and that’s often the way it is with life. We get visions of glory, but reality gets in the way and we’re humbled in the process.
So then how do we find true glory? What is the way to true honor even when we have been humbled? What is the way to real respect even if we have to go through pain?
1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)
If we want to receive God’s favor, then we must humble ourselves before each other. We must “be submissive” to those who are older. Literally, we must rank ourselves under them. AND all of us, no matter what our age, must tie on the apron of a slave and serve each other. That’s what it means when it says, “Clothe yourselves with humility.” The noun form of the verb “clothe” was the apron of a slave in Bible days. And that’s the way we’re to relate to each other – all of us!
We’re to behave like slaves for each other; otherwise, God Himself will stand in opposition to us. “God opposes the proud,” verse 5 says. Literally, He sets himself in battle against those who appear like they’re over or above others.
Let me tell you: that’s not a place where we want to be – with God like an army at war against us. So let’s humble ourselves before each other and experience His grace. It’s the way to true glory and dignity even if we find ourselves down and out.
That’s what Abbe Pierre discovered when he founded the Emmaus Communities in 1949. The Emmaus Communities today serve homeless men and women all across Europe in a unique way. They don’t just give the homeless handouts. Instead, they ask the homeless, whom they call “companions,” to serve others.
It all started with Abbe Pierre's first companion in ministry, a homeless man named Georges. After Georges' release from prison, his family couldn't cope with his reappearance, so they told him to leave. Homeless, unemployed, and on the verge of suicide, Georges came to Pierre and asked for help. Much to Georges' surprise, Pierre asked Georges to help him instead. Pierre told Georges that he was overwhelmed with meeting the needs of homeless mothers and their children. So Pierre challenged Georges to turn his life around by serving those less fortunate than he.
Georges became the first “companion” for Emmaus, helping Pierre build shelters for homeless mothers and their children. In the following years, every companion, like Georges, was invited to serve others as they received help. Initially, all the companions collected second-hand goods and prepared them for resale, thus earning the name “the rag pickers.” Later in his life, Georges said, “Whatever else [Abbe Pierre] might have given me – money, home, somewhere to work – I'd have still tried to kill myself. What I was missing, and what he offered, was something to live for.” Well, those sentiments became the unofficial motto for Emmaus – give the poor a reason to live, not just things to live on.