Lesson 6 -- second quarter 2009
April 5, 2009
© Copyright 2009
"Led with him to be put to death" -- has this happened to me yet?
Must that happen to me? Today? Every day?
If someone knows what he's doing, and wrongs me...must I still forgive him?
What can I do today to acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice for me?
Jesus loves you. He loves you to such a degree that He could not love you more. Not long before His death He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Before that He had declared, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). And some years later Paul would write, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The evidence is convincingly clear: Jesus loved you enough to die for you. That means He could not love you more. John 13:1 says He loved His own "unto the end." I don't take that to mean that He ran out of love nor that loved till He ran out of life. I understand that to mean that He loved with His full love. He loved you and me completely and without reserve. He had no greater love to give!
Now a question: What difference does it make? Yes, that's right. What difference does it make that He loved us to that extent? What I'm getting at is this: Jesus' love for us should make a huge difference in how we relate to others. Listen....
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:11). Since So-and-So wasn't beneath or beyond God's love, should I not love that person as well? More importantly, since God loved me, how shall I dare withhold my love from another?
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us" (Ephesians 5:2). God calls His people to relate to others with the same selfless love with which Christ loved us. We have the commission to live Christ's love and sacrifice in our own relationships. That person across the table from us, the foul-mouthed individual at the check stand, the boisterous young folks gathered around the car in the convenience store parking lot, the minister even now finishing his mental sermon preparations -- God loves each one. Shall I refuse?
Come to think of it, that's a strange expression. Humility from the heart, as all heart virtues, cannot be restrained from expressing itself in all kinds of practical ways. Genuine humility flows uninhibited from the innermost being of the one who possesses it. The humble can no more help being practical than you can help breathing.
Most of the time, our breathing is automatic, taking place without any conscious effort on our part. Christian humility is a fruit of the Spirit of God, and that fruit develops and grows and manifests itself freely, often without any focused effort on our part. Some of the time, our breathing is quite deliberate, happening at the time and pace of our choosing. Likewise there are occasions when the believer purposefully determines to exhibit a particular demonstration of humility. Should our breathing ever cease for too long a time period (which really isn't very long at all!), our temporal life and usefulness come to an end. If we as Christians quit being humble for too long (which probably isn't very long either), our spiritual life and usefulness also cease.
The sum of those two paragraphs is simply this: Christians must be humble, and humility must be practical.
Christians must be humble because Christ was humble. His triumphal entrance to Jerusalem wasn't a spectacularly impressive manifestation of earthly royalty. No, just Jesus riding on a young donkey over a trail made by palm branches and discarded outer garments. Was He entitled to something far, far grander? Absolutely! Listen to part of His prayer recorded in John 17:5 -- "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
Despite "being in the form of God, [He] thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:6). Instead He made an historic and unprecedented choice: He "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:7,8).
Shall a Christian then dare to choose pride and self-glorification? Shall a Christian stoop to insist on his own rights and to declare his own worth and superiority? God forbid! Rather he should heed and live by Philippians 2:5 which precedes the above statements of Jesus' humility by exhorting, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
But how can we allow practical expressions of humility in our own lives? Well, consider these few verses and mine them for the practical applications to which they lend themselves.
"But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room" (Luke 14:10).
"He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve" (Luke 22:26).
"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5).
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (Romans 12:10).
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3).
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