Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility, 9th Sun After Pentecost
Volume 8 No. 490 July 20, 2018
 
II. Lectionary Reflections: Luke 14:7-11

Table Manners

by Ferdinand Funk

Gospel: Luke 14:1,7-14

There is no limit to what we will do to make ourselves big and powerful.

Even our generosity can be a way of making others feel that they owe us something in return.

Many a table is filled with little more than the self-interest of the host.

Theological subject: Today's Message is about social status, humility, and table manners in the Kingdom of God.

Words of wisdom: Recognition evade those who seek it.

Modesty is the skill of reluctantly allowing someone else to say things about you, that you would have said yourself if you weren't naturally modest.
Flattery is like chewing gum -- enjoy it briefly, but don't swallow it!

Tact is the ability to make your guests feel at home when you wish they were.

Humility In the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schultz, Linus and Charlie Brown are sitting and talking about their plans when they grow up. Linus says, "When I get big I'm going to be a humble little country doctor. I'll live in the big city, and every morning I'll get up, climb into my sports car and zoom into the country! Then I'll start healing people. I'll heal everybody for miles around!" And he concludes this speech with "I'll be a world famous humble little country doctor."

HUMILITY

A young American student visiting the Beethoven museum in Bonn was fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a generous tip, and the man agreed. The girl sat down at the piano and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving, she said to the guard, "I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano." The guard shook his head; "Well, Paderewski was here a few years ago and he said he wasn't worthy to touch it."

Feelings about our past actions.

Do you know the feeling of being invited to a celebration, and your host invites you to come and sit down at a better spot, closer to the head table or the stage?

It feels good to be honored by such special treatment, doesn't it?

On the other hand, we feel out of place when we're asked to go sit in a different spot, because that spot was reserved for a more important person.

Or worse yet, when somebody asks us to move from their favorite spot in the church benches.

Stories

One of the most important jobs at the Whitehouse in Washington, D.C. is the Chief of Protocol. The Chief of Protocol is the person who determines where people sit at state dinners. Putting some dignitary in the wrong place at an official state function has caused more than one international crisis.

People from various social classes mix freely in the classroom, or on the playing field, and in the Laundromat.

But at a banquet, the social barriers rise, and the position of where people sit makes all the difference.

Shift focus to congregation. (law/judgment)

Isn't it interesting that the table is where we find our place

Even in the Church we exercise a certain rank order, according to the importance that we give to each individual.

For example, our older people will clearly remember the time when the men sat on one side, and the women on the other.

Also, the positioning of the Baby room says something about the importance that we give to children and young families in our worship services.

The best seats are reserved for the most important people.

Issue for today. (where does the text touch our concerns?)

But this is nothing new.

Remember the disciples of Jesus, how they were arguing with each other about who was the most important among them?

Remember also how they were put to shame, when the Master humbled himself to wash their feet.

"The greatest among you must be your servant."

Biblical text (Background & Context).

Read Luke 14:1,7-14

Content (what will it be a story about?)

1. Jesus, watching folk scramble for places of honor, advised choosing the lowest place, way down from the head table. Perhaps they will have the delightful surprise of being invited up to sit with the dignitaries.

2. Jesus advises the host to be honest about his motives for inviting people: not to his own benefit, but for the benefit of the guests.

Good News (Major Concern of Text/Sermon).

The Purpose of this parable, like other parables, is meant to reveal something about God.

Question: How does God look at our table-time etiquette?

Jesus offers a critique of our strategies for getting ahead.

The opinion of the text is that inGod's kingdom, the humble are being lifted up and those who exalt themselves are being brought down. (Mary's Song Ė Luke 1:46-55)

"All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted" (Mt 23:12).

Major Concern of the sermon - Bible Background

It was the custom to invite people for a meal on the Sabbath after the worship service.

The Meal in our story is attended by Leaders and Doctors of the Law.

It provided an opportunity for academic debate with other Teachers about the Word of God.

At this Sabbath meal Jesus happened to be among the invited guests.

The Jewish Scriptures gave some clear rules about seating order, and so the guests were really not speaking out of turn, when they were arguing about their rank.

Jesus' criticism of other invited guests seems politically incorrect as well as impolite Ė you just don't do something like that.

Jesus' advise is opposite to the Rule of the Community of the Essenes, a Jewish sect near the Dead Sea that practiced communal life and believed themselves to be the people of the New Covenant:

Their Rules said the following:

"This is the Rule of an assembly. Let each man sit according to his rank! Let the priest sit in the first place, and the elders in the second, and then the rest of all the people; let them sit according to their rank."

Then Jesus turns on the host:

The host graciously invites others to his table. Or does he? Some hospitality can be only a shrewd way of getting what we want from others.

Jesus did not say that one must neglect one's friends, family, and even the rich neighbor or boss.

It is pleasant to entertain one's friends Ė get together for a good BBQ or a Turkey dinner, or Faspa.

It is proper to invite one's relatives Ė otherwise you may end up in trouble with your in-laws.

And it's also to our advantage to entertain those who are role models to us, be it for financial, or other reasons.

But Jesus proposes a guest list of those who can never give in return; those who will not help our status: the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, the handicapped

2 Sam. 5:8 declared the handicapped as enemies of the King.

At Qumran: the handicapped are listed among those not allowed in the assembly, alongside with those who are ritually impure, physically ill, paralysed, lame, blind, deaf, dumb, and those with leprosy, etc.

Jesus' teaching corrects the strict, inflexible religious teaching that held that disease was due to sin.

He invites the needy to an important place in the Kingdom

We remember his first speech in the Synagogue: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has sent me to preach Good News to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, Öand so on."

Mention the Christ-event.

Jesus was a friend of the social outcasts - publicans and sinners, whores and theologians. He welcomes sinners and eats with them (Lk 15:2).

As we struggle to find our place, maybe at the dinner table, at the cafeteria at work, or in the church family, Christ's invitation is still open to us:

Come to me all who are tired and heavy-laden, I will give you peace.

In Christ, we find our proper place.

We become his brother and sister, his friend and companion.

Each one of us is an MVP (most valuable person) in the eyes of Jesus.

God knows that we all have a deeply rooted need to be recognized for who we are.

That is often the reason for our tendency to puff ourselves up, when others don't do it for us.

That is also why we push our way up the social ladder as hard as we can- sometimes even to the point of burnout.

The Good News is that God knows our every need.

In Jesus he has come to us to address our greatest need, namely, to restore the broken relationship with our heavenly Father.

He has come to give us New Life.

Invite and encourage the congregation to further action. (recognize past faithfulness)

We are encouraged to embrace the loving grace of God, and to respond to Christ's Challenge with an attitude of love and compassion for others.

As those who gather at the table of the Lord, we operate under a different set of guidelines than those that motivate the world.

We are motivated by an attitude of justice, service and humility.

Off course, we often fail to hit our mark, and instead of concentrating on being a "humble little country doctor" we puff our heads with ideas of being "world-famous."

Jesus reminds us of the dangers of wanting to push our way up the ladder, bumping and shoving other people off as we go.

And he is also willing to forgive and give us another chance when we come to our senses.

Responsibility (what is the hearer supposed to do?)

Here, in the church, in our meals and in all our meetings, the first must be last and the last first, the lowest and the least must be treated as the greatest and the highest.

Service and consideration for others are our guiding principles.

This is especially important for us as we begin with the LIFE Process in a few weeks, and as we "send out invitations" to Christ's Banquet in our Community.

May God grant us honest motives in our search to exalt Christ, and in our efforts to put others before us.

May God also help us to keep our intentions pure as we invite others into our home.

Copyright 2018 Faithlife

Table Manners

By Debie Thomas

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

This week's Gospel reading reminds me of a story my father tells about his early childhood in rural India. My grandparents were devoted members of their church, and it was often the case that elders and preachers spontaneously showed up at their home for lunch after Sunday services. Food wasn't always plentiful in those years, and cooking rice and curry over a wood stove took time. Because the rules of hospitality dictated that "men of God" eat first, my father and his siblings had to wait quite a while to eat on Sundays. Only when the honored guests had had their fill and left would my grandmother gather the leftovers and feed the kids.

My father - being only four years old at the time - did not find this weekly arrangement pleasing. One Sunday afternoon when he was feeling especially hungry, and my grandmother had already chased him out of the kitchen a dozen times, he just plain lost it. Marching into the dining room where the guests were relishing their second helpings, my father stuck his little hands to his hips and yelled, "Get out! Hurry up and leave so I can eat!"

I think Jesus would have relished this story, because he wasn't known for his politeness around food, either. Though the Gospels record him receiving and accepting many dinner invitations during the years of his ministry, those mealtime scenes usually ended in drama, provocation, or scandal. Once, a woman of dubious reputation caressed his feet under the table. Sometimes he interrupted a meal to heal sick people on the Sabbath. Often, he ate with dirty hands, shared a table with riff-raff, and drank more than his enemies considered respectable. Worst of all - he said things. Blunt, embarrassing things that no one cared to hear.

This week's lectionary reading from the Gospel of Luke describes such a scene. Jesus is invited for a Sabbath meal by a leader of the Pharisees. Arriving early, he sits and watches as his fellow guests scramble for places of honor around the table. Like the elders who showed up at my grandparents' home, these guests know the pecking order, and they relish it. If I'm imagining the scene correctly, they jostle and shove each other, feigning dignity while still fighting for prestigious spots near the host.

After observing their drama for a while, Jesus calls them out with a parable. Knowing full well the social rules of his day, he shuns them and calls instead for a revolution. Not a revolution of arms and bloodshed, but a revolution in table manners.

"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor," he exhorts his fellow guests. "Go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.'" "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

As if that isn't counter-cultural enough, Jesus turns to his host and continues:

"When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you."

Our lection this week doesn't tell us how Jesus' listeners reacted. I don't know if they laughed, shook their heads in disbelief, questioned Jesus's sanity, argued back, or followed his advice. All I know is how I react as I read and re-read this story. I feel an uncomfortable combination of surprise, skepticism, and fear. As in: Really? Is Jesus serious? Does he have any idea what he's asking?

It appears he does. Every once in a while, just as I'm growing comfortable with my faith, a story like this one comes along to shatter my complacency. Don't exalt myself? Don't insist on the recognition I deserve? Ignore the pecking order ó or worse ó upend it? Don't network, don't schmooze, don't brown nose? Open my heart and home to people who can do nothing for me? People I have no affinity for? People I can't impress, earn favors from, or show off to my competition?

Why on earth should I do that?

Because Jesus insists on it. Because this is who God is, the Great Reverser of our priorities, our hierarchies, and our values. Because there is no end to the game of who is "in" and who is "out," and God in his wisdom knows that our anxious scramble for greatness will lead to nothing but more anxiety, more suspicion, more loneliness, more hatred, and more devastation. Because God's kingdom is not a kingdom of scarcity; it is one of abundance, where all are already welcome, already loved, already cherished. Because the currency of that kingdom is humility, not arrogance; generosity, not stinginess; hospitality, not fear.

But let's face it: humility is a tricky thing. We too easily conflate it with self-effacement, low self-esteem, and complicity in the face of oppression. Even if we manage to define it in healthy ways, humility betrays us; the very instant at which I claim to achieve humility is the moment when it eludes me. Worse, very little in our culture rewards or supports the humble. Whether we're talking entertainment, politics, sports, or even religion, we in Western cultures have an unhealthy admiration for the loudest, the biggest, and the greatest. Whether we recognize it or not, we are known around the world for idolizing the superlative. What would happen to our discourse if we shunned the word "best?"

When we dare to gather at Jesus's table, we are activitely protesting the culture of upward mobility and competitiveness that surrounds us. There's nothing easy or straightforward about this; it requires hard work over a long period of time. To eat and drink with God is to live in tension with the pecking orders that define our boardrooms, our college admissions committees, our church politics, and our Presidential elections, and that can be tiring. But it's what we're called to do ó to humble ourselves and place our hope in a radically different kingdom.

Whenever my father retells his childhood story, I tell him that Jesus applauded that ravenous little four-year-old who broke the rules and challenged the hierarchy. In fact, if I'm reading Luke's story correctly, I believe Jesus would have ushered those men of God right out of the room, and insisted that the little children eat first. Favor the ones who cannot repay you. Prefer the poor. Choose obscurity.

Jesus asks us to believe that our behavior at the table matters ó because it does. Where we sit speaks volumes, and the people whom we choose to welcome reveals the stuff of our souls. This is God's world we live in; nothing here is ordinary. In this realm, the strangers at our doorstep are the angels.

Source: Journey with Jesus
Copyright © 2001Ė2018 by Daniel B. Clendenin. All Rights Reserved.

The Humble Will Be Exalted

by George Toews

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

Introduction

I donít usually watch American Idol, but I have watched some episodes. In the early episodes when they are doing the auditions in the different cities, it is particularly embarrassing to watch because there are some people who think they are American Idol material, but they are terrible. I always wonder if they really think they are good but are totally deceived about themselves or if they are acting in an attempt to get on TV. I think, surely people canít really be that bad and not know it yet somehow I believe there may be at least some who are really deceived about themselves.

If they can be deceived about themselves, then I wonder if I can also be deceived about myself? I donít mean in the sense that I could be on American Idol, but rather in my goodness. I try to be a good boy, but am I as good as I think I am? What kind of things am I ignorant about? Is God pleased with me? Why is God pleased with me?

Luke 18:9-14 helps us think about these questions. The parable is written in the context of Luke 18:1-8 which speaks about prayer and encourages us to pray. Luke 18:9-14 is about two people who pray, but it isnít so much about prayer as about their approach to God. The parable Jesus told is about two extremes of perceived righteousness, the Pharisee and the tax collector. One was deceived about himself, but the other was very clear about who he was. How did God view them? The key verse in this passage is verse 14 which gives us the main point, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Let us read the text and think about what it teaches us.

I. The Parable

A. Going Up To the Temple to Pray

For the Jewish people, the temple was the place where they went to pray. When Solomon had originally built the temple his prayer of dedication revealed that it was the place of Godís presence and so it was to be the place where people approached God. 1 Kings 8:29, 30 is Solomonís prayer at the dedication of the temple and he prays, "May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ĎMy Name shall be there,í so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place."

Even when Daniel was in captivity in Babylon many years later, we read that every day he opened his window towards Jerusalem and prayed towards the temple because God had promised to answer the request of Solomon and answer prayers made towards the temple.

In Matthew 21:13, Jesus also indicated that the temple was to be a place of pray.

So these two men both did a good thing when they went up to the temple to pray.

We read that the Pharisee stood to pray and prayed aloud and this was and still is the common way in which Jewish people pray. When we were in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, we saw the Jewish people doing exactly this. They prayed out loud, standing up facing towards the temple at the point closest to where it used to be.

But who were these men who came to pray?

B. Who Is The Pharisee?

The Pharisee was representative of a person who was super good. We often view them negatively because of their reaction to Jesus, but if we had lived in that day, we might have had a different view of who they were.

There are two aspects about the Pharisees that are important to note. Their name, Pharisee, may come from a word that means "expound" which suggests that they were people who studied the Bible. Bromiley suggests that they were "the most accurate exegetes of the law." They studied Godís Word and tried to understand it and all that was in it.

Another aspect of who they were is that they were people who separated themselves from the rest. Another interpretation of their name is that it comes from the Hebrew word for someone who is holy or separated. Bromiley says that the Pharisees were "a Jewish sect or party whose members voluntarily took upon themselves a strict regimen of laws pertaining to purity, Sabbath observance, prayer, and tithing."

They arose in the history of Godís people out of a concern for the nation of Israel. They were concerned for doing right because Israel was an occupied nation and the values of the occupying nation threatened to take over and remove the worship of God from the nation. Their study of the Bible and their desire for holiness was an example for the rest of the nation. Not only that, Marshall says that their concern to fulfill the law correctly was seen to be a way of contributing to the coming of Godís kingdom. They believed that if they were good and if many in the nation were obedient, God would come and deliver them from their oppressors.

C. Who Is The Tax Collector?

The tax collector was representative of a group that was super bad. Often when tax collectors are mentioned in the Bible they are paired with the word "sinners," which gives us some idea of the attitude people had of them.

There were several reasons why they were viewed as bad. They had their jobs because they had bid for the right to collect taxes for the Romans. This meant that they had a relationship with the Roman occupying forces and not only a relationship, but they worked for them. The Romans and their occupation were hated by the Jews and anyone who accepted it was considered evil.

This relationship with the Romans also meant that their job involved them in regular contact with Gentiles, which made them unclean. Uncleanness meant that they were viewed as sinful.

The method of tax collection was subject to abuse. They would bid for the right to collect taxes by offering to collect a certain amount for the Roman government. Of course the contract would go to the highest bidder. They made their money by collecting more than they bid for. It was commonly and probably accurately believed that they were greedy and dishonest, which once again categorized them as sinful.

So the tax collector and the Pharisee would have been perceived as being on opposite poles of righteousness.

In order to learn something from this parable, we need to think about whom we identify with in the parable. Are we the Pharisee or the Tax Collector? If we were to rewrite the parable for our world today what kind of people would we use? Would we talk about a Mennonite Christian and a drug dealer or a gang member? When I read this parable, I take it to be speaking to me as if I were the Pharisee. I donít find it hard to hear echoes of the same kind of language as that used by the Pharisee in the circle of Christians. "I thank you that I am not likeÖ" I go to church andÖ" So as we think about what the parable says, let us not be afraid to be honest about who we identify with and be open to what God wants us to learn?

II. Humility

The key concept which is taught in this parable is humility, but we notice that it has implications in three directions.

In verse 9 we read the direction Jesus intended for those who were listening. He speaks to those "who were confident of their own righteousness." He also mentions that they "looked down on everybody else." Verse 14 introduces a third direction which we need to consider when it introduces how we view ourselves and others "before God." So as we think about the meaning of this parable, I want to think about it regarding our view of ourselves, our view of others and how God views us.

A. Our View of Ourselves

The NIV says that the Pharisee "prayed about himself." This is a difficult phrase to translate and there are at least three different ways of translating it. If the Pharisee prayed about himself, then it implies that he was not very humble and thought quite highly of himself. Yet there are other was of translating these words. The New American Version translates "was praying this to himself." This has other implications, perhaps that he was praying silently. The English Standard Version translates it "standing by himself, prayed" which also suggests that he was off in a corner of the temple praying. I am not sure which is the best translation but I lean towards the NIV because as we read the prayer he see that it is clearly a prayer about himself. He is presenting to God all the merits he has accumulated in the kingdom.

As we read this list we have to affirm that he was indeed a very good man. Every one of the things he did were good. It is good not to be a robber or an evil doer or an adulterer. Fasting and tithing are good things. The requirement of the Old Testament was that Jews were required to fast occasionally, but this man fasted twice a week, which was much more than was required. The Jews were required to tithe certain things, but his tithing was also more than was required. When we look at this man, there isnít anything we can criticize about his behavior. We would love to have such a good man for a neighbor. Our property and our marriage would be safe.

What challenges me about what this man prayed is that I think I have prayed in the same way as he did. I have prayed, "I thank you God that I am not a drunkard. I thank you God that I have never cheated on my taxes. I thank you God that I have five merits on my driverís license." If we are honest, I think we have to admit that this spiritual pride strikes close to home.

Everything he does looks so good and we wonder why he is criticized? The answer to that question is given at least in part in comparison to the prayer of the tax collector. The tax collectorís view of himself is, "I am a sinner." The tax collector didnít even want to lift his eyes to heaven. He was deeply aware of his sinfulness and need. He beat his breast which is a symbol of the anguish he felt because he knew that he was dirty. What was wrong with the Pharisee was that he was self deceived. He was not as good as he thought he was. Yes, there were many ways in which he was very good, but he was not perfect. He was filled with pride because he thought he was as good as one could be, but he was not aware of the gaps in his life. The tax collector was aware of nothing but the gaps.

We who are pretty good need to learn from the failure of the Pharisee to understand himself truly. Although none of us would commit adultery, we somehow ignore the gap of lust in our hearts. Although none of us would murder, we somehow forget that it is also sinful to hate others. We may go to church every Sunday to heartily praise God, but we somehow forget that we have slandered our brother or sister with gossip. This parable invites us to have an accurate view of ourselves and the accurate view is that of the tax collector. We are sinners and all our righteousness is as filthy rags, as we read in Isaiah 64:6. Because of the gaps we all fall short of the glory of God and are unacceptable to God.

B. Our View of Others

This spiritual pride also involved another problem and that is that he "looked down on everybody else." Once again, it seems to me that this parable is applicable to a lot of Christian people. I have to confess that I do this. We look down on people who have addictions of various kinds. We look down on people who make poor choices and mess up their lives. There are two problems with this kind of an attitude.

First of all, it is an inaccurate way of thinking. The Pharisee looked at all his good deeds and knew that the tax collector could not compare to him in any way and said so. But there is one problem with that way of thinking. I have helped coach hockey when our kids were young and it was always fun to play against the kids. I was so much better than they were and I could take the puck from them and skate circles around them. One day I played against an NHL player and suddenly realized how poor I really was. This was the problem with the Pharisee when he looked down on everybody else. When we compare ourselves with others and look down on them because we think we are better than they are we are comparing ourselves with others like us. Yes, we may be much better than they are, but the problem is that it is a false comparison. The one we need to compare ourselves to is God and when we do that then the difference between us and the worst of sinners is not really all that great. If he had done an accurate comparison, he would have realized that he had no grounds for looking down on others.

The other problem with this attitude is that it is judgmental. When we look down on others, we pass judgment on them and the Bible says that we should not judge another person. The offense of judgment is that it comes across as superiority. Being "holier than thou" does not draw people nor win them to Jesus. Jesus, who was perfect did not judge people and we need to follow His example. Because we are not perfect if we posture as if we are and judge others, the impression we leave does great damage to the cause of Christ.

The question this leaves us with is, "What do we do when we see another believer sinning?" If we are self righteous we may be tempted to think, "I would never do something like that." So what should our attitude to one another be? It should be an attitude of grace to others recognizing that they and we all struggle with sin. It should be an attitude of wanting to help one another in our struggle to overcome sin, not with an attitude of superiority, but with a gentle, humble and fearful approach. We should engage them in a loving conversation by which we try to help them see that the course of their life is leading to destruction. This must also be accompanied by a willingness to accept correction from others. Openness to one another and willingness to admit our sin would be much easier if we did not have a spirit of self righteousness and pride, but rather the humility exemplified by the tax collector.

C. Godís View of Us

So the only accurate way to understand ourselves is by how God looks at us.

In verse 14 that perspective is explained. It says that the tax collector "went home justified." For many of us that is hard to swallow. Why should the drug dealer or the child molester who repents be justified? Is there no reward for all the good things we have done? We think that God should like us because we do good things. We think that God should help us because we have done so much for Him. We think that God should favor us because of all our goodness. But self righteousness doesnít cut it with God. What God looks for is people who are humble enough to know who they are in His presence. Who we are in His presence is sinners who have nothing to offer and people who are utterly dependent on His grace. The Pharisee came with his righteousness and didnít believe that he needed Godís grace. The tax collector was justified because he came with nothing and depended on nothing but the grace of God.

The other thing we learn is that "everyone who humbles himself will be exalted." How does that work? The tax collector discovered that he was a recipient of the grace of God. If we lift ourselves up we come to God with something to offer and we expect to be accepted for what we offer. If we come to God with an accurate understanding of who we are, we expect nothing, but find that God accepts us and the foundation of our acceptance then is His grace. If we exalt ourselves by coming to God with our righteousness, we are always under the impression that if we fail in some way, God will then disown us and we will have to earn back His favor by more good deeds. That is the way in which those who exalt themselves are humbled. However, if we come to God with nothing and depend solely on His grace, then we know that we are always welcome in His presence. We know that we are forgiven dirty rotten scoundrels. Of course that does not mean that we are free to continue in sin. Paul addresses that in Romans 6. But we need to understand grace to the point that such a question makes sense. Recognizing that we are accepted by His grace strengthens the confidence we have that God loves and accepts us and in that way those who humble themselves are lifted up.

Conclusion

This isnít a hard parable to understand. There are different approaches that parents have in giving allowance to their children. Some parents set up a list of work that the child needs to do around the home and the allowance is given as wages for the work done. Other parents simply give their children an allowance so that they will be blessed with having something of their own. The glory of God is that he has chosen not to give us wages for good deeds, but mercy because we are His children.

I think we get that. What is hard is remembering that we cannot earn merit with God by our good deeds, but rather by our humble recognition that we are sinners. What is hard is remembering that we are saved by grace. What is hard is letting go of the pride of self righteousness.

And yet, such humility is not that complicated. Humility is simply having a right view of ourselves. How do we get such a right view? In order to have a right view of ourselves we must begin with God. If we have a right view of the holiness of God and the grace of God, then we will understand who we are and we will gladly and readily humble ourselves before Him and receive His grace.

Copyright 2018 Faithlife

The Power of Meekness

by Emmanuel Amoh

I would like to begin by asking these questions, why should Christians be meek and humble and what are the problems caused by pride, arrogance, ego, self exaltation, haughtiness and self-will. It is important for a Christian to live a life of humility and meekness for Jesus said,...take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart. In essence if the Messiah had to go through the growth process then we Christians need it too. A Christian with the spirit of pride, arrogance, ego...etc will not benefit much, your prayer and relationship with God will not be perfect .In the book of Proverbs 8:13 it clearly states God hates the pride and arrogant, for the fear of the Lord is to hate evil behavior and perverse speech. With meekness and humility you will have sound judgment, counsel and wisdom.

In the book of Numbers 12:13, it is written that Moses cried unto the Lord to heal Miriam even when they spoke arrogantly against the servant of God (Moses), he listened to Aaron to plead for the mercies of God upon Miriam, and God gave the instruction for her restoration. If Moses did not have the spirit of humility and meekness he would not have cried unto God, the proud and arrogant will condemn and act wrongly to add more injury to Miriam. The Lord Jesus in Mathew 11:29-30 said I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light, from this passage the proud and arrogant will carry their burdens not allowing God's will, that is where self will, ego, self exaltation and haughtiness will set in. We cannot do it on our own until we let God in to help us.

SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF A MEEK CHRISTIAN:

1. A Meek person lacks pride

2. A Meek person is submissive

3. A Meek person is not rude

4. A Meek person is not reckless

5. A Meek Person does not resent

6. A Meek person does not revolt or rebel

7. A Meek person is submissive and modest.

The genuine meek and humble Christian is evenly composed and there is a Godly principle within them that cannot be compromised, you don't see them revenge or retaliate and they will not spend time fighting, there is no violent behavior or wild attitude and they are never out of control. The meek and humble Christian always seek to be better than they were yesterday, they strive to progress and improve their relationship with Christ and others and they don't compare themselves and compete with others, they will not run down or trample on others to have their way, the meek will always be heavenly bound thoughts( righteousness, peace, joy and holiness)

WHAT IS NOT MEEKNESS

1. It does not mean you are foolish or an idiot

2. It does not mean you should swallow errors

3. It does not mean you should compromise righteousness or the standard of the word of God

4. It is not submitting to oppression

5. It is not causing divisions, factions, gossip

SOME BIBLICAL TRUTH ABOUT MEEKNESS

1. Zephaniah 2:3; The meek Christian will be righteous as well.

2. I Corinthians 4:21; The meek will love. Some appear humble and sluggish but inside the heart is a smoke of hatred and malice.

3. II Corinthians 10:1; Gentleness and Meekness cannot be separated.

4. Ephesians 4:2; Meekness and lowliness with long suffering fore bearing one another in Love, just absolute purity and simplicity will make God show you his ways.

5. Mathew 11:28; The Christian will be meek and lowly in heart and will have peace and rest of mind, body soul and spirit.

6. Colossians 3:12; Meekness and Humility go together. As the elect of God put on therefore the holiness, kindness humbleness of mind...meekness and longsuffering.

7. I Peter 3:4; If you are meek you will have quiet spirit. Some believers are noisy and boisterous. that is concentrating on developing the inner man.

PROVEN PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE

Christ-like: He did not show weakness of character like timidity, passive and disposition of character.

Aaron: Compromised by helping the people of Israel made themselves a god to worship whilst Moses was on the mountain receiving instructions from God, that is demonstrating weakness of character not sticking to the standard of God's word.

Eli: Being the Priest of God he could not discipline his children and in God's sight it was unacceptable therefore God himself promised to supervise his punishment, I pray we will not come to that point in our Christian walk with God in Jesus name. Following Patience does not mean you don't have conviction, faith or the audacity to discipline.

One very important truth about the meek is that you will not defend yourself in any situation because God who sees through the heart will defend his interest in you.

Moses: He had the conviction of character that is why the bible says he was the meekest man that ever lived as it is recorded in Numbers 12:3.

Hannah: In I Samuel 1:13 Hannah responded with a humble talk,she had self control and knew what she had gone in to the temple to do. I will encourage us all to learn to talk humble not fire for fire, but fire for water in every department of our lives.

In Zephaniah 2:3; Seek ye the Lord all ye meek of the earth which have wrought his judgment seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.

WHAT TO DO

1.Seek Meekness

2. Show Meekness; conversations, dealings, homes, offices.. etc

3. Set as a standard of living

4. Serve in Meekness

5. Share Meekness in others life

6. Submit to Meekness

7. Sow Meekness peoples life

When you live a life of meekness, God will guide, teach, reveal, and show you His ways, because he finds humility in your heart and walk with him.

Pray These Prayers For the Spirit of Meekness and Humility; Shout it loud and Clear; Read Isaiah 40:28-31

1. Lord Jesus Baptize me with the Holy Ghost and Fire, in Jesus' name.

2. O Lord my Father circumcise my heart in Jesus name

3. Lord lead me in thy truth and teach me thy ways in Jesus name.

4. Holy Spirit enforce the will of my Father in my life and destiny in Jesus name.

5. My Father send your axe deliverance into my foundation in Jesus name.

6. Holy Spirit overhaul my heart in Jesus name.

7. Every spirit that is not of God in my life come out of me in Jesus' name.

8. Any power that must have tied me to Satan break and loose your hold over my life and destiny. in Jesus name.

9. Every fragmented pieces of my heart and destiny in the valley of decision begin to gather together, receive life and live in Jesus name.

10. Every cage of limitations be broken by the Power of the Holy Ghost in Jesus name.

We thank You Lord Jesus for your Kindness and Love.

Copyright 2018 Faithlife

Exaltation Follows Humility

by John MacArthur

"Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"
(Philippians 2:9-11).

God will exalt the humble.

Having plumbed the depths of Christís humiliation (Phil. 2:5-8), Paul now soars to the heights of His exaltation (vv. 9-11). Like Paul, the apostle Peter affirmed that the great theme of Old Testament prophecy was the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow (1 Peter 1:11). Regarding Christ, the writer of Hebrews says that "for the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). Christ understood His sufferings in light of His exaltation.

Paulís purpose in Philippians 2 was not simply to detail the humiliation and exaltation of Christ but to use those truths as a practical illustration. He was calling for unity produced by humility (vv. 2-4), with Christ as the preeminent example of humility (vv. 5-11). But beyond the humiliation of Christ, Paul also affirms that He was exalted. The implication is that when we willingly humble ourselves as Christ did, God will lift us up. As James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you."

It is true that the man who humbles himself is the one whom God exalts, and the man who exalts himself is the one whom God will humiliate. In the divine economy, it is by giving that one receives, by serving that one is served, by losing oneís life that one finds life, and by dying to self that one lives. These principles follow one another as surely as night follows day.

Like Christ, you will be exalted in Heaven one day. Meditate on that truth, and be encouraged by it as you go through your earthly trials.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for the exaltation that awaits you in Heaven.

For Further Study

Read the following verses:

Matthew 23:12;
Luke 14:11; 18:14;
1 Peter 5:6.

What principle do they all teach?

Source: Grace to You.org

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