On August 19th Brandon Oland wrote a
column in the Frederick Post Sports section entitled, "Every
second counts, as does third." In his column he condemns the
media and others for getting all over our Olympians for not
doing better than a second or third place in an event.
The purpose of the Olympics is to
provide a safe forum where athletes from around the world can
to be about represent their country and compete with others as
a way to demonstrate unity, peace, and goodwill. But sadly
what we are now seeing is that the Olympics are becoming more
about winning and losing, not just competing, to the point
some will use performance enhancing drugs to win or will use
intimidation to get better scores.
Have you been to a little league game
lately, whether it's baseball, soccer, or some other sport,
the goal for some is no longer competing and having fun, it's
winning no matter what. And this attitude mainly comes from
the coaches and parents; most of the kids could care less. The
kids are just out there having fun and looking forward to the
hotdog and soda they get after the game.
I'll never forget one little league
baseball game I was coaching. One of my players, who was about
7 years old at the time was up to bat, last inning, bases
loaded two outs, and we were down by one run. He found himself
in the situation many dream of, an opportunity to be the hero,
to get that hit that would drive in the winning run.
Well this boy is up to bat and all the
parents are standing up cheering with excitement. Here comes
the first pitch, strike one, then the second pitch, strike
two. And then comes the third pitch as a hush came over the
field, the young boy took a vicious swing and missed, strike
three and the game is over.
One of the other coaches and I went
over to the boy figuring we would have to console him. We
said, "Good try," and he looked at us and said, "can I have my
hotdog now?" His comment really put things in perspective.
None of the kids we upset they lost, they had a good time, and
to them the score didn't matter, the game was over and they
were ready for their hotdog.
This served as a wonderful lesson for
all those present, because life is more than just winning and
being seen by others as a hero, or being admired because of
something you've done.
Nowhere does the Bible say winning is
what it's all about, or that God evaluates your worth to the
community and the world in terms of social status, or any
other kind of status because you've won something. As a matter
of fact Jesus throughout the gospels, as well as Paul in his
letter to the Philippians promotes humility, or being humble,
as the appropriate characteristic for Christians to exhibit.
Being humble will lead to the appropriate reward, whether it's
in this life or the life to come.
So what does it mean to be HUMBLE?
First it means to consider others more so than yourself. Our
natural way of thinking is that the more we can get for
ourselves the happier we'll be. But God's word tells us just
the opposite is true. If you want to be great, you've got to
be last. If you want to get everything you want, you've got to
be willing to put others first.
Many of you are probably familiar with
the Survivor Show on TV. Well on the Survivor All-star show
the final two survivors lied, cheated, and broke promises to
make it to the finals. It was interesting that during the
final "tribal council", they were called on this behavior by
one of the former contestants, who basically said, "I hope all
the money is worth it, because you traded your friendships and
your integrity for it."
You want to be viewed by God and
others favorably? It won't come from stepping on and over
other people, but comes instead from looking out for the
interests of others!
One thing I know about myself, and
hopefully I'm not alone here, is that I can be a selfish
person if I'm not careful. At heart, many of us want what we
want, and we want it now! In some ways just the whole idea of
considering others better than ourselves seems completely
unnatural…even un-American! Just like some folks attitude
during the Olympics, they can't imagine someone from another
country beating an American.
So what would it look like for me, for
all of us, to consider others better than ourselves? o We can
do something simple like letting others go first. o Giving up
the last piece of pie at the dinner table. o Or, more
important things like keeping your promises. " Showing up on
time to appointments with others. " Giving of yourself to help
You know it's not easy for us to be
humble, so to whom can we turn for an example of humble
living? Well our role model for all of this "humility"
business is Jesus himself, and Paul lays that out for us when
he says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ
Paul then spends the next few
sentences of scripture telling us exactly what Jesus did in
providing an example of humility. It's starts in verse six
where we learn that being humble like Jesus means to: " Be
unconcerned about your personal position. (v. 5-6), your
attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who,
being in very nature God, didn't consider equality with God
something to be grasped. That word "grasped" here brings the
idea that it was not something to be seized. Though Christ
was, and is God, he didn't go grasping after it, seeking it,
putting himself forward, or demanding others treat him in a
way befitting someone of his stature. He didn't say "That's
mine for the taking!"
Our modern day application for this
attitude of living is simple. Whatever titles we may have
earned, whatever degrees may hang on our wall, being like
Jesus will mean we never lord those things or our authority
over others, or try to make them feel inferior to us.
To live a humble life we do have a
great example to follow, and that's Jesus himself. We ought to
let Jesus be our guide. Though Jesus was in nature God, he
didn't consider it something to be grasped. Instead, he set
before us an example of humility, teaching us to make
ourselves a servant.
So how can there be any joy or
satisfaction in making yourself a servant? How can it be true
that if you want to be joyful and happy, it's somehow related
to being a servant to those around you?
Well consider this: If your joy and
happiness in life are based upon having others serve you, then
if you're ever deprived of such honor, your life will take a
turn for the worse. However, if you make the choice to serve
others, your happiness will no longer be founded upon how
others treat you - which is by the way completely out of your
Being humble also requires us to obey
even when it's inconvenient. (v. 8) Paul says, "And being
found in appearance as a man, he (meaning Jesus) humbled
himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
You know the question I've been asking
myself this week in relation to this verse is…How far does my
Am I willing to obey the word of God
if it means I lose? Am I willing to obey the word of God if it
means someone else might not understand exactly what I mean?
Am I willing to obey the word of God even if I don't really
like what it has to say?
Our true humility is shown in these
types of situations. Will we humble ourselves before God's
will or will we lift ourselves up above what God's word says,
and say instead, "In my situation this serving and humility
stuff just doesn't apply!"
Jesus gave us the most perfect example
of humility - and Paul encourages us to live our life with the
same kind of humble attitude. Now you might say to me, "That's
great Wade, but all that advice in Philippians sounds out of
reach for me there's no way I can do that. How can I become
that type of person, and begin knowing the joy that comes from
becoming a humble servant?" Well to paraphrase Paul, he says,
"work hard and let God change your will."
Now don't be confused, Paul is NOT
saying that we must work to earn our salvation. There are
really two parts of our salvation, and they are described by
the words justification and sanctification.
Justification is the one time act of
God by which we are pronounced NOT GUILTY of our sin. We are
cleansed of our sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, and are able
to enter into a relationship with Him. This cannot be earned -
it's a gift of God.
But sanctification, on the other hand,
is the process of being made more and more into the image of
Christ in our physical lives here on earth. It's the lifelong
process of submitting our lives to Christ's will, moment by
moment, until we've finally reached a place where our will and
His will are the same.
So Paul is not saying we need to work
hard to earn our salvation. Instead, he's saying, keep on
obeying God's word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, so
you can work out in the physical realm, the spiritual
salvation you've already received. If we do out part, we're
promised God will begin changing not just our actions - but
also our very WILL!
A famous Polish composer-pianist, was
once scheduled to perform at a great American concert hall for
a high-society extravaganza. In the audience was a mother with
her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, the boy
slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the Steinway on
the stage. Without much notice from the audience, he sat down
at the stool and began playing "chopsticks."
The roar of the crowd turned to shouts
as hundreds yelled, "Get that boy away from there!" When the
pianist heard the uproar backstage, he grabbed his coat and
rushed over behind the boy. Reaching around him from behind,
the master began to improvise a countermelody to "Chopsticks."
As the two of them played together, the pianist kept
whispering in the boy's ear, "Keep going. Don't quit, son,
don't stop, don't stop." (Today in the Word, Moody Bible
Institute, Jan., 1992, p.8)
In a sense, this is how God is at work
helping us to "work out our salvation." Although God is behind
it all, he does require our effort. If we want to know the joy
that comes from living a humble life - it's going to take hard
work on our part. It's going to take deliberate choices to be
like Jesus in how we relate to others. So what will be the
result of a life lived with humility? Paul says, "our life
will bring light to dark places."
This past week I took some time to
walk around the grounds surrounding the basilica and during my
walk I kept thinking about Mother Seton. I'm amazed at how she
dedicated her life to teaching. And how somehow, this humble
servant woman achieved worldwide fame for her service. She
serves as a great example of being a shinning light as she
sought to educate people. Paul says that when we live lives of
humility, being a servant, putting others first - the result
is we will shine like stars in the universe as we lift up the
word of God to others by our actions and our words..
The world is full of people looking
for attention, for honor, for prestige. But if you want your
life to be set apart from the crowd in the right way, live
humbly and put others needs before your own.
So I ask you, how will your life be
different this week? Who's name is it that God is whispering
in your ear for you to serve this week? What action can you
take to literally empty yourself of self and become like a
I challenge you to live like Jesus,
who lived a humble life, and because of how he lived he now
lives in eternal glory with God the Father. I urge you to
write down in your bulletin this morning one concrete step you
can take this week to develop an attitude of humility and
follow the example of Jesus.
Becoming the disciple Christ wants us
to be will only come from our willingness to live with a heart
of humility. So what will it be, will you chose living a life
focused on winning and being admired by others, or will you
chose to live a life of serving others looking forward to
enjoying the hotdog when the game is over?