Sunday 3rd May

In His Steps – Humble

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

This week we have the third in the series for Sunday mornings entitled “In his steps”. Looking at the characteristics of Jesus, it can help us, to ask ourselves the question “what would Jesus do” in any situation that we may face. Over the last two weeks we have looked at the characteristics of Loving and Obedient, this week we come to Humble.

Prayer

Lord, as we join together at this time, help us to learn from you and from the example Jesus gave us to be humble with a servant heart. Show us how we can through your power be the people you have called us to be and, in these times of uncertainty, to find new ways to show your love to those around us.

Amen

Song: Our God

To Start

Humility is not generally recognised or desired as an attribute to be sought after or obtained in our world. The opposite is often the case where those who self-promote and spend a lot of time telling others what they have done and how good they are at doing what they do are the ones who get the success. How often are there jobs advertised that include humility in the list qualities required to do that job?

This is where there is a paradox in trying consider and apply humility as an attribute to try and attain for oneself because it does not sound very humble to say how good you are at being humble! I did think I could entitle this little piece “Humility and how I found it.” but thought better of it!

Humility is perhaps often best recognised in others, seeing that they have a Christ like heart that is demonstrated through actions that are not focused on self, but on others.

Read : John 13:1-17

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, Jesus now showed them the full extent of His love.

After they had eaten, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel and began to wash the feet of his disciples. I must confess that the thought of washing somebody else’s feet is not something that would fill me with delight or be something I would immediately jump at! At the time when this happened, the washing of feet after travelling was a common and usual occurrence. What was unusual was that this would have normally been carried out by a servant or slave, not the host of the meal.

In Luke’s account of this meal, it seems there was arguments among the disciples as to who was the greatest:

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:24-26)

Matthew also records the disciples asking about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:2-5)

Children understand that they depend on others, they usually know their limitations, they respond to God’s world with wonder, they accept their lowly position…….…and then they become teenagers!

In the act of washing the feet of others, Jesus set for us an example by putting himself in the position of a servant, as one of lowly position. Jesus did not say to his disciples, “If anyone will come after me, let him enjoy himself, let him be gorgeously dressed, let him be drunk with delight.” No, he said, “Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:16-17).

Song: Servant King

Meditate

Take some time read through, ponder and meditate the verses below, asking God through his Spirit to show you what it means for you:

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another. (1 Peter 5:5)

What does it mean to be clothed with humility?

“Come to me ….Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Take my yoke = rest for your soul. How does this work?

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8).

Are there times you use your status/knowledge/wealth etc. for your own advantage?

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6).

Reflect on a time where you have been lifted up after going through a humbling experience.

Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud (Proverbs 16:19).

Honestly, would you rather be rich or oppressed?

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. (Psalm 138:6).

Thank God that although we are sometimes a long way off, he sees us in our situation and has the grace and power to lift us.

‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ (James 4:6).

We may not always see this or experience it – but it is the truth!

Song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Epilogue

I have been through times in the past when I have struggled in the work situation where it seemed others around me seemed to be progressing further and be more successful than me. Not because they were necessarily better than me at doing the job, but seemingly because they were good at promoting themselves, good at talking the talk. At appraisals, I was encouraged by my manager to become more like these people, to push myself forward, to ensure those around me knew of my achievements and all the things I was doing. I was never comfortable with this; it just didn’t feel right.

I must have spoken to Helen about this because one Sunday morning, she passed me a photocopy from her daily Bible reading notes which said this:

What is humility? It is not pretending that we are bad at something at which we happen to excel. Rather, it is forgetting that we are very good. Some soldiers wear medals on their greatcoats, but in the British army soldiers wear medals on their tunics so they are hidden when covered with a greatcoat. That should be the Christian’s attitude – to achieve as much as we can, and to talk about it as little as possible. Why is humility important? It is important because Jesus, who is our example, was humble – and God calls us to be like Him. It is important because God cannot tolerate pride and keeps His distance from proud people. It is important because humility brings happiness and peace – things which those who are always striving for recognition and promotion never achieve. Finally, it is important because God only uses humble people, who depend completely upon Him, in His service.

This was such an encouragement for me at the time, it gave me confidence not to try and be something I was not or to conform to the pattern of this world. After a time, God opened up new opportunities and I was able to move on and progress without having to conform to somebody else’s idea of what I should be. The photocopy has stayed in my desk drawer ever since!

Humility is honestly assessing our strengths and weaknesses in light of God’s holiness and our imperfection. Rick Warren says “Humility is not denying your strengths; it is being honest about your weaknesses.” To be humble is to do an honest self-appraisal, by admitting the truth about ourselves. This means that we avoid both bragging and putting ourselves down. Humility is acknowledging the truth about what we are and what we’re not. Humility requires a bit of self-forgetfulness. C. S. Lewis wrote: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Song: Saviour of the world

Prayer

Lord, please keep me humble and help me to succeed without conceit and to fail without complaint.

Amen.

Lord, we pray for our leaders this week. As the scientists and politicians discuss and agree if and how the lockdown can be loosened, we ask that they would be guided by you.

We pray for those who are suffering at this time, in whatever way. Whether it is though the loss of a loved one from the virus, the loss of a job as businesses struggle or having to deal with social isolation and the stresses this can bring. May they know the comfort and peace only you can bring.

We continue to pray for all those on the front line, NHS staff, care workers, emergency services and all those who are keeping essential supplies and services delivered. Keep them safe and strong as they work and give them peace and refreshment as they rest.

Amen.

How is the artwork going? Maybe post a pic on WhatsApp of progress!

This key verse this week is John 13:15