Grace To The HumbleSeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
GRACE TO THE HUMBLE
Sermon By Terry Siverd / May 07, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
In our current sermon series, labeled The Fruit Of The Spirit, we're attempting to translate the teachings of Jesus.
His words and deeds during that time when He became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn.1:14) are rich with instruction.
One reference point to aid in the process of following Jesus comes to us via a number of virtue lists found in the NT.
One of these list of Christian attributes comes in Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia (Gal.5:22-23a) - -
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (and) self-control.
Another iteration occurs in Paul's epistle to the church at Colosse (Col.3:12-14) - - Therefore, as God's chosen people,
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and
forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you,
so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
These “lists” are not meant to be all-inclusive. In 1Tim.4:11-12, Paul writes to a young disciple named Timothy who is attempting to teach others in Ephesus. Paul tells Timothy, Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
Sometime, depending on the aim of his instruction, Paul cuts to the chase, as in 1Cor.13:13,
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Our goal in this series is two-fold. First to remind ourselves of the more important things - -
those things that we ought to be vigorously pursing.
All too often our energies are depleted by striving (chasing) after the wind (to borrow from Solomon / Eccl.2:17).
Fred Craddock tells of visiting his niece who had adopted a greyhound to prevent him from being destroyed.
Craddock writes (Cherry Log Sermons) that he struck up a conversation with the dog.
I said to the dog, 'Are you still racing?' 'No', he replied. 'Well, what was the matter? Did you get too old to race?' 'No, I still
had some race in me.' 'Well, what then? Did you not win?' 'I won over a million dollars for my owner.' 'Well, what was it?
Bad treatment?' 'Oh, no,' the dog said, 'They treated us royally when we were racing.' 'Did you get crippled?' 'No.'
Then why? I pressed. 'Why?' The dog answered, 'I quit.' 'You quit?' 'Yes,' he said, 'I quit.' 'Why did you quit?' 'I just
quit because after all that running and running and running, I found out that the rabbit I was chasing wasn't even real.'
Secondly, we are looking for ways to facilitate the implantation of the mind of Christ (1Cor.2:16). We're searching for ways to cultivate the fragrance of Jesus (2Cor.2:15). Looking for anything that can to stimulate the fruit of the Spirit.
Interwoven within our studies of Christian virtues we're including some reflections on the Christian disciplines.
What will help us to reflect and radiate “the Jesus style” in our own lives?
This morning I want us to re-visit an admonition from the apostle James. In Js.4:5, he asks a pointed question,
Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose? It's a rhetorical question, but he goes on to make certain
that his readers know the answer: (God) jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.
Then, in Js.4:6, we read: God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Reiterated in Jn.4:10 - - Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you (Js.4:10).
Surely all of us realize that we are in need of the GRACE of God.
The text before us proclaims in plain language: God gives grace to the HUMBLE.
As we ruminate on these packages of particulars (character traits) that God desires of us, let us remember:
First and foremost, our life is about HIM. God is the one who is “all in all” (Rom.11:36).
And secondly, it is really never exclusively about just ME. In Scripture we are called into a community of believers.
While each one of us are attempting to live for HIM, our efforts are anchored in a WE rather than a ME.
William Sangster, a prominent English preacher (c.1900-1960), tells a story that circulated in a town in north England. Some years ago before pipe organs were operated with the aid of electricity, a noted organist was playing before
an enthusiastic audience. A small boy labored hard behind a screen pumping the organ for all he was worth.
During the intermission the youngster, flushed with pride, said to the famous musician, Aren't WE wonderful?
'Who's we?' barked the organist as he stomped off to play the second half of his program. As he sat down to the
organ console, the musician stroked the keys, but not a note came forth. Alarmed, he stuck the keyboard
savagely, and still no sound. At last a small voice came from behind the organ screen, 'Now, who's WE?'
(cf. Walking With The Giants, by Warren Wiersbe, pgs.174-175)
Near the end of his brilliant life, Sangster who had accomplished so much, became ill with what was then called,
progressive muscular atrophy - - cause unknown, cure unknown. Sangster realized that he was dying and he made four resolutions: “I will never complain. I will keep my home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.”
Over the next 2½ years he experienced graduating paralysis, eventually permitting only the movement of two fingers. Towards the end, he communicated as best he could by writing, but he also spent his final months praying fervently
for others. Sangster knew well that even though HE would soon begone others (the WE factor) would continue on.
An older Scottish lady has been recognized for saying, “The parts of the Bible I like best are the likes!”
Jesus was a superb teacher and He often painted pictures with words to describe life in the kingdom of heaven.
Like a sower who sowed seed … Like a mustard see … Like yeast mixed into dough … Like a treasure hidden in a field …
Like a merchant seeking fine pearls … Like a fishing net lowered into a lake (cf. Mt.13).
Lk.14:7-11 is another parable where Jesus says the kingdom is like an invitation to a wedding. Dinners in ancient times took place around a U-shaped table with the host in the middle and honored guests on both his right and left.
When He noticed the guests picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable:
When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more
distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come to you,
'Give this man you seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take (a) least important place.
When you are invited, take the lowest place so that when your host comes, he will say to you,
'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Our humanity requires humility. All of us are vulnerable to pride.
1Cor.10:12 / Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
It sometimes flows from discouragement. As with Peter's claim to loyalty followed by denial (Mt.26:33-34).
Sometimes it stems from excitement. As when King Herod's response, “whatever you ask, I will give you (Mk.6:23).
Sometimes it surfaces due to weariness. Like when Esau sold his birthright for a pot of beans (Gen.25:29-34).