Allen Jackson - Humility, Courage and Leadership - Part 1
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It's a privilege to be with you. Our topic is humility, courage, and leadership. I'll give you a secret to sustain success in your life, it's humility. It's not typically information or adaptability or resources, if we can maintain the humility we need, God will continue to bring promotion. We lose that so quickly. I'm excited to unpack it a little bit more with you. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly open your heart.
The title is humility, courage and leadership. Oh, I could title, we could title this several ways. What I really am going to share with you, is a way to secure God's blessing on your life. If you're interested in God blessing your life, I can biblically point you to a path that will make that a part of your future, if you will meet the conditions which is amazing to me. You know my my intent for quite a while now has been to try to make choices that it would enable God to bless me in the future in greater ways than he is today. Now that doesn't mean we don't walk through difficulties or challenges, or have hardships, you still have to face life, that comes to everybody, but you can make... The Bible gives us more than enough information to know how to make choices that will cause the blessings of God to increase in your life.
But I can give you some simple things. There are some behaviors that I try to engage in on a regular basis and I'm going to share some of them with you in a minute but giving is one of those. Since we just finished a season of that, I can talk about that and you can feel relatively safe, but we have always, we have tithed, not based on the income we have today, but what we anticipate God doing in the future. And it it doesn't mean that God's adjusted our resources the next month or even the next year, but I have watched God honor that in my life over a long period of time. And it's true in multiple areas of my life, there are things that I I'm determined to keep in place and to protect because I believe they open our lives to the goodness and the mercy of God more fully. And that's really the heart of what I want to share with you tonight.
And so the title is Humility, Courage, and Leadership. Philippians chapter 2 is where I want to start. Philippians 2 is the presentation of Jesus, it gives us a description of the choices Jesus made that caused him to arrive at this place of God's ultimate exaltation, that Jesus has the name that's above every name in Heaven, earth or under the earth. Philippians 2 and verse 5, it says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus". Of all the ways we try to bring compliance with the Lord, I would submit to you our attitude may be the most overlooked. You know, we're pretty concerned that our beverage list would be blessed by Jesus, and our vocabulary would be blessed by Jesus and our wardrobe would be blessed by Jesus, but what it says specifically is your attitude should be like his.
And then it describes it for us, he said, "Who being in the very nature God, didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped". He was not grasping. He had every reason to be grasping, he had great power and majesty and authority, but he didn't, he chose not to have a grasping attitude. But he divested himself, he made himself nothing, he did what the rich young ruler wouldn't do. He said, "I'll lay it all down. What's the assignment? I'll give away my reserves. What's the assignment? I'll give away my authority. What's the assignment? I'll make myself vulnerable. What's the assignment"? Wow. "He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. And being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man". Imagine the creator willingly becoming a part of his creation. You have the power to create the whole thing, and you say, "I'm going to limit myself to step into the midst of that creation".
I cannot understand that, it's beyond my intellect. "Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross". He humbled himself after he's done all of those things. after he wasn't grasping, after he divested himself with everything, after he chose a servant's nature, after he found himself a part of the creation that he created, after he's done all of those things, the commentary is he humbled himself. I'm thinking after he got done with all those things, what more could he do? Well it says, he humbled himself and became obedient. Obedience takes humility. Obedience means I'm not in the the uppermost position. Obedience acknowledges that I'm submitted to another authority to whom I am being obedient. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross, a shameful death, a humiliating death, a death of brokenness.
Therefore, therefore, is a summary word. I'm sure you've heard it, I learned it as a boy. Whenever you're reading your Bible and you find a therefore, you need to find out what it's there for. It's a pretty good rule of thumb because of all of those things that we just read about Jesus, God exalted into the highest place. He didn't exalt him because he was his son and he was proud of him, he exalted him because of those things we just read. And he gave him the name that's above every name. And it goes on to say that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven or earth or under the earth. There is no one to compare with him, there, he has no equal. He has a position that is exalted above all. But that position came to him because of the choices he made.
Now here, here's the observation I would like to make. There's a relevance for us individually as families, and I also believe as a congregation. We have witnessed the unquestioning, the blessings of God, not just on Easter weekend, or not just in 2023, but for a lengthy period of time, God has been very, very gracious to us. He hears prayers that we pray. On a weekly basis, we have God's stories coming back of people who have miraculous interventions from God. On a weekend like this past weekend, all weekend long, people stop us sharing God's stories. I'm sure you hear them, you've been involved with many of them. We have witnessed the unquestioned blessings of God, but as I said to you, both personally and for us, as a community, my desire is that we would make choices that sustain that, and to avoid the choices that would diminish God's blessing.
And as I think about that and I pray about that and I meditate on that, because I do, I say, God, you've been very good to us, you have undoubtedly blessed us and you have done things that we could have never done and arranged things that we could have never arranged and enabled us to, and I would... Lord, extend that, extend that for the younger people that are coming behind us, may it be a legacy. So I pray about that, I talk to the Lord about that and what I'm aware of is that we can make choices that will extend it, or we can make choices that will diminish it. And when I think of what will diminish it, probably at the head of the list would be arrogance. The simplest word is pride. It's true, personally, it's true for a family, and it can be true for an institution. And what I want to submit to you, is that we don't want to give place to that.
So when I think about that, the the antonym, the opposite of pride, biblically, would be humility. So that's where I want to start our bit of a Bible study. If Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross, therefore God exalted him, if it was necessary for Jesus to humble himself, then I'm going to submit to you it's necessary for us to humble ourselves. And that's the perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God, water walking, dead raising, blind eye opening, so that it's not just the sinners that need to humble themselves and repent, it's the people of God that have to continue to walk in a humility of spirit and attitude and practice, to enable the blessings of God or the purposes of God to be fulfilled in our lives. Much easier said than done.
I find that we're often willing to do it for a season of our life and then we land at someplace where we decide we become more entitled. And the behaviors that helped us become to a place or arrive at a place, we stop engaging in those. We're going to look at that biblically in a little more detail, but let's start with this notion of humility, and this is not an exhaustive study by any means. We may come back and do it in a bit more detail, but James 4 and verse 6 says, "God opposes the proud but gives Grace to the humble". Very plain language. You have two options, there's not a third lane. You can either be in the category whom God opposes or you can be amongst the group to whom God will give grace. Grace is undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor.
Now, which do you prefer? Do you want God opposing you, or do you want God showing you grace? This isn't complicated, God opposes the proud and he gives grace to the humble. An order, an extra large order of humble for Allen, please. I mean, I grew up in a barn in Tennessee, I'm not that complicated. Now the challenge with humility is it's self-inflicted. If you don't choose to humble yourself, the alternative is to be humiliated, that's a very different process. Look at 2 Samuel 22. This is a part of David's prayer when he's finally established the Kingdom. The Civil War with Saul has been resolved, and David has reached a place and this is a part of his prayer of Thanksgiving. He said, "You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low". Same idea of the James passage. Proverbs 22 says it slightly differently. It said, "Humility and the fear of the Lord," so there's something added to humility here.
The fear of the Lord, not that you cower in dread, at the mention of God, but that you live with a respect, a reverence for God. You recognize he's not like us. You see one of the great mistakes and it's a natural part of of how we process information and relationships, we tend to reduce God to ourselves, to our strength, our ability, our education, our knowledge. God's not like us folks, he made the place. I can take play dough and I can craft something. I can take a crayon and I can make some marks. I won't even say I can draw but I don't make things. God created the place. He's not like me. So if the design engineer says, "Do this," here's a thought, do lots of that.
And if the design engineer says, "I wouldn't do that," try to avoid it. That's the fear of the Lord. "Well, I think," well, I'm happy you can, I would encourage you to continue to do so and cultivate the ability, but I would also encourage you to submit what you think to the instructions of the designer. Humility and the fear of the Lord bring. You outta circle that word, if you will cultivate humility and the fear of the Lord, they will bring something to your life. You don't have to go chase these things. Humility and the fear of the Lord will cause Almighty God to deliver them into your life. They will bring wealth and honor and life.
So as I've prayed about this and reflected on this, there are some behaviors that biblically are, we're pointing to that cultivate humility, that allow humility to to emerge. Here's the challenge, you acquire humility, you develop humility indirectly. It's not like we get up this morning and say, "I'm going to go out and humble all over". So at the end of the day, my humble muscle got stronger. That's not how you acquire humility. That's, you know, we can get all sorts of false humility. Humility is not saying, "I have no value". Humility is not saying, "You know, I really don't have any strength. I'm just a weak worm of the dust saved by grace".
That's not what God says about you, he says you're fearfully and wonderfully made. Humility is a right evaluation of yourself. Humility recognizes the strengths that God has given you and the strengths that he didn't and humility accepts that. Humility doesn't whine in all of your life because you didn't get the gifts you wanted. Humility doesn't walk around under a cloud like pig pen, because your circumstances weren't the ones you wanted. And so getting this right is important. When it says your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus. There's a lot, there's so much to be said and reflected on, it's worth meditating on. Let the Holy Spirit help you because we've had some wrong imaginations of humility that have left the church more weakened than it should be. But there are some very clear behaviors and this is not an inclusive list. It's a sample, but it'll get us started with a thought, things that you can put into your life as a matter of habit and routine that will let humility emerge.
Now it's a lot like physical health, you know two days at the gym will not change your physique, it just makes you sore and miserable. But if you'll persist for a month, you'll begin to see a little bit of an outcome and you won't be nearly as sore or nearly as miserable. But if you only go two days every month, you just spend your whole time being sore and miserable. And we've been a little guilty of doing that with God, you know, kind of an every once-in-a-while thing, and so we miss most of the benefits. We don't mock God, folks. You know, we can come up with all of our stuff, but I have found God to be very fair, very faithful, very just.
There's a proverb in 16... Proverbs... I mean, it's a Psalm, I'm sorry, Psalm 16:3, it's been in my heart for a while. I believe it's 16:3, it says, "The boundary lines have fallen graciously to me". And I think it is such a sweet expression of the mercy of God, that when I reflect on my life, the boundary lines have fallen graciously to me. Doesn't mean every day has been easy, doesn't mean there haven't been some boundary disputes, but I would have to say the grace of God has filled my life. And so let's start with this, what is service? You need a routine. You need the habit of focusing attention on others.
I'm not telling you to ignore yourself, you know you can take this to extremes that are destructive. I'm not asking you to do that. This is much like when you're on the airplane and they say, "In the event of a sudden depressurization or lack of oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. And if you're traveling with a child or someone who needs assistance, before you affix their mask, fix your own". You know, first you need to let the Lord deal with you, but once you have accepted the Lord and you have begun to get your own life support system in place, then we got to begin to help other people. The doxology, the ending of the book of Jude, says, "Snatch other from the fire".
Everybody won't leave the fire, you have to show 'em why it's better where it's not burning. But you need to put in place a routine of serving. You're not too important, you're not too old, you're not too young, you're not too busy. I watch people that never do this. I spent a lot of years with God's people and I watch people studiously avoid this, and I think to myself, I'm sorry, you are forfeiting so many blessings. So to service, I would put right alongside of that, obedience. Now, I'm not really, I'm not too creative. If you go back to the Philippians passage, you can find most of these. Jesus took the very nature of a servant so I very wisely said, maybe we should serve. And then it says he became obedient.
You see, obedience means I'm yielded to an authority other than my own. If you want to gain dramatic momentum in your spiritual life, start being obedient to the truth that you know. Stop trying to figure out what the third horn on the second head of the fourth beast, after the third star falls and the second bowl of Judgment is poured out. If the specifics were intended to be absolutely clear to us, it would have been written in something other than that kind of language. Now, I have some opinions and I like to talk about it and we can tee that up every once in a while, but loving your neighbor as yourself, you got that one. And God gave us some neighbors that make that a lifelong full time job. But if you give them a hug and say, "You know, I know God placed you there for my spiritual growth and benefit".
Obedience, if you are purposefully ignoring something that the Lord has quickened to you, how about conforming? It will bring good things to you. Remember the goal, how we bring the blessings of God into our future. You serve, you practice obedience, third, you have to be willing to continue to lead a life of sacrifice. Sacrifice. Well, I thought Jesus sacrificed so I don't have to? Hmm. I can bring you a menu of scriptures but I brought you one. It's one we looked at recently and I thought you might remember because it's worthwhile and it's on point. David disobeyed God and took a census in Israel, and judgment came on the people, and David needed to stop the judgment and to do that, he was gonna build an altar and offer a sacrifice. And he purchased the threshing floor of Araunah.
Now in the midst of the story, you can miss all that's going on. It's the same place, at least by tradition, where Abraham brought Isaac. It's the same place by scripture, where Abraham brought Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice. It's the same place that the temple will ultimately be built. It's the same limestone ridge where Golgotha is. And God said, "David, the only way you're going to stop this plague is to go purchase that piece, to offer me a sacrifice". So David goes to Araunah, it's in your notes, it's 2 Samuel 24, "And, Araunah says, 'Why has my Lord, the King, come to his servant?' And David said, 'To buy your threshing floor.'"
Now you should know this as well, in the ancient near East, a king was the absolute monarch, there was no shared power. If the king wanted your property, he took it, think of Ahab and Jezebel and Nabal's vineyard, think of David and Bathsheba. If the king wanted your property, he took it. If the king wanted your wife, he took her. If the king wanted your life, he took it. Think of Esther and the Persian king and the Jews being killed. So David is approaching this man and you know, he says, "What do you want"? And he says, "I want your threshing floor". Now Araunah is a clever, clever man and he said, "You could just have it". Verse 22, "Araunah said to David, 'Let my Lord the King take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here I'll give you the oxen and the wood for the altar and the sacrifice.' But David replied to Araunah, 'No, I insist on paying for it, for I'll not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.'"
And David's not a beginner at this point. We're years beyond Goliath, we're years beyond hiding in the caves in the desert of Engedi and wherever else was necessary to hide from Saul. He has secured the nation, he has secured Jerusalem as the capital city. He has a standing army. He's become the most powerful political military leader of the Middle East. He's gonna expand the borders of Israel to their farthest reaches in their history, including until today. He's a very powerful man, he could taken whatever he wanted. But you get a little window into his heart. He said, "I will not offer to God something that didn't cost me something. I need to make a sacrifice for this too". It's a play on words, it's not the sacrifice of the animals. David said, "There needs to be a cost to me in this". Sacrifice isn't always about money, but we need to be willing.to lead a sacrificial life.
I don't think we've understood humility, so we've avoided it. We thought it was weakness or being timid or just being polite. In reality, humility brings tremendous strength to our lives. I want to pray that prayer for you today, that the Spirit of God would walk you into his humility so that you can stand in his strength. Let's pray:
Father, I thank you that you've equipped us to be a light and salt, to make a difference in our generation, Lord, not in our strength, but in yours. Give us a right understanding of ourselves, the gifts you've given us, the abilities you've entrusted us with, so that we might stand boldly for the name of Jesus. It's in his name we pray. Amen.