Joel Osteen — Healed Through Humility
I want to talk to you today about "Healed through humility". We all have times where we know we're supposed to do something, but it doesn't seem fair to forgive that person that did you wrong, be kind to a neighbor that's not treating you right, volunteer at the hospital even though nobody is saying, "Thank you".
Everything on the inside will say, "I'm not forgiving them. It was their fault. They need to ask me for forgiveness. I'm not working on that small project, serving in the nursery. I'm more qualified than that". But if you're going to reach your highest potential, you have to humble yourself and do things you may not understand.
We see this in the scripture with Peter. He'd been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Early the next morning, as he was coming in, about to put his boat away, Jesus said to him, "Launch out into the deep, and you will catch a great haul of fish". Peter could've said, "Jesus, I love you, but you're a teacher. You need to stick with your profession. I'm a fisherman. I have years of training". He could've let pride talk him out of it, thought, "I'm an expert. I know what I'm doing". Instead, he humbled himself and said, "Jesus, if you say, 'launch out,' it doesn't make sense to me, but I trust you. You know what's best, so I'm going to take this step of faith".
When he did, he caught so many fish that his net began to break. His promotion was in his humility. When you swallow your pride and say, "This may not make sense, but I'm going to do what God's asking me to do," "I'm going to humble myself and be good to this person that did me wrong," "I'm going to be my best at work, even though nobody's giving me credit," when you walk in humility, you will see the great haul of fish. Like Peter, your promotion, your healing, your breakthrough, it's in your humility.
The scripture says, "Jesus humbled himself and became obedient". It doesn't say he was obedient because he was so strong-willed, so righteous that he always did the right thing. Even Jesus had to humble himself. It takes humility to walk in obedience. Without humility, Jesus could've thought, "I'm the Son of God. I don't have to put up with these insults. I'm not going to the cross". It was his humility that kept him from retaliating from the people that did him wrong. His humility is why he could hang on a cross and say, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing".
There are times God asks us to do things that seem hard. Your flesh will rise up and tell you all the reasons why you should put the boat away and not go back out, why you should tell them off and not bite your tongue. This is when you have to do like Jesus. Humble yourself so you can become obedient. You have to put your pride down and say, "No, I'm not going to be offended because they left me out. I'm not going to be too proud to ask for forgiveness, to say, 'I'm sorry,' to admit that I was wrong". When we don't have humility, we think we're always right. We'll be stubborn, hard to get along with. Our relationships will be much better if we'll humble ourselves and let somebody else be right.
When Victoria and I were first married, she didn't like me to go into the kitchen while she was cooking after I worked out and washed my hands. She didn't want my sweat to be around the food. The problem was, when I came in from the outside, the kitchen sink was the most convenient sink. It was right there in my path. I didn't want to walk to the back. This was too easy. For a long time, I'd run in there and wash my hands real quickly and hope that she didn't see me, and she never harped on me, but I knew she didn't like it.
I reasoned it out, thought, "It's not hurting anything. I'm careful not to drip anywhere, and besides, this is my house too. I don't feel like walking to the back". Here, I just played 90 minutes of basketball, running up and down the court, and I came home and didn't want to walk 30 more feet to the back. Pride causes us to make lame excuses, to be stubborn, only see things our way.
One day, I went in there to wash my hands, and I heard something down in here say, "Joel, when are you going to start honoring your wife by doing what she's asking you to do"? I thought, "That couldn't be God". It's never God when we don't like it. But there may be things that you don't feel like are right. You don't think you should have to do them. One way you can honor God is by honoring the people in "I shouldn't have to walk to the back". "I shouldn't have to clean up the mess they made". "I shouldn't have to sit in this section where the ushers asked me to sit".
God is saying, "Will you do it for me? Will you walk to the back for me? Will you clean the mess up for me? Will you overlook the offense for me"? Do it unto God. When you honor God, he will always honor you.
A few years later, we built a new house. I put a sink right at my back door. The first time Victoria went in there to wash her hands, I said, "Don't even think about using my sink". But I wonder how much better our relationships would be if we'd start walking in humility, honoring the other person, lettering them have their way, not always having to be right.
I know this couple. They argued for years over the best way to get out of the neighborhood. There were two main routes. The husband thought it was this way. The wife thought it was the other. Practically every time they drove out, it was a point of contention. This couple, they were great people, but the pride began to tear their relationship apart. One day, they heard me speaking on this subject, and they both made the decision to put their pride away, to quit arguing over petty things, to start treating each other with respect. They told me how that message saved their marriage.
I believe other relationships would be saved if we would start walking in humility, honoring God by honoring the other person. The healing for your relationship is in your humility. It's when you humble yourself and do your part to get along. "Well, Joel, when he starts treating me better, then I'll treat him better". You have to make the first move. Your humility can start the healing. When they see you taking the high road, not being stubborn, not being offended, not having to have your way, that's when things will begin to change.
The scriptures says, "It's the little foxes that spoil the vines". If I would've kept washing my hands in the kitchen sink, year after year, that disrespect would've grown. The dishonor would've become bigger. Before long, these little things are tearing families apart. I'm asking you to swallow your pride and start walking in humility.
What can you do to get along better with people? What can you do to strengthen your relationships? Not what can somebody else do. You can't make them change, but if you'll change, if you'll start treating them with respect, doing what you can to honor them, being kind, serving them, those seeds you're sowing, they'll come back to you. Just as little foxes can spoil the vine, little acts of kindness can make a big difference.
When Victoria saw me start going to the back to wash my hands, she had to check the kitchen sink to make sure something wasn't wrong. When she realized I was doing it just to honor her just because she asked, our relationship went to a new level. She started cooking me better TV dinners. Little things can make a big difference. That didn't help my relationship at all but... the first 15 years, or so, of our marriage, before we had help, Victoria never filled her car up with gas. Anytime that I saw it was low, I'd make sure to take it up and fill it up for her.
Little acts of kindness help hold things together. How much better would our relationships be if we put down our pride, not have to be right all the time, not keeping score, "If you do this, I'm going to do that," trying to one-up each other. Instead, what if we spent that same energy honoring each other, believing the best, overlooking offenses? The healing is in your humility, not in having your way, not in getting even, not in holding a grudge.
I have a friend. When he was in his 20s, he had a disagreement with his father. Turned into a big argument. He left the house very angry and didn't speak to his father for over 30 years. Wouldn't have anything to do with him. This young man's life was a constant struggle. He couldn't get ahead, never got any good breaks, lived in a small apartment with his family. One day, he learned through his sister that his father was in the hospital. He knew he had to make things right. He put his pride down and drove 4 hours to the hospital. He went in to see his father for the first time in years.
They both wept and wept. He said, "Dad, I'm sorry. It was my fault. Please forgive me". He started honoring his father. It wasn't long after that, that this young man received a promotion at work that he had been trying to get for over 10 years. He didn't know how he could send his child to college, but this child unexpectedly received a full scholarship. After years of living in a small apartment, they were able to purchase their first home. One thing after another began to fall into place.
What am I saying? The promotion was in his humility. When he made the decision to humble himself, to forgive his father, to let go of the wrongs, that's when the favor came on his life. 2 Kings chapter 5, there was a captain in the Syrian army, named Naaman. He was a very powerful man, influential, well respected. He had just helped the syrians defeat the israelites. Everything was going great except he had leprosy.
He had captured a young lady from Israel and brought her back as his maid. I can imagine everyone didn't know that he had leprosy. He would keep his armor on, try to hide it from people, but this young maid lived in his house, and when she saw how devastating the leprosy was, she was very concerned. She finally got her nerve up and said, "Sir, there's a prophet in Israel, where I'm from, named Elisha. If you'll go see him, he'll pray for you, and I know our God will heal you".
Naaman could've thought, "Who are you to tell me what to do? I'm a captain. I answer to the king in my country, and now, you, a slave, a teenager, a woman, you're telling me to go back to the nation I just defeated and ask them for help? I don't think so". Naaman could've been offended. He could've dismissed it, turned her away, but something down in here said, "She knows what she's talking about".
Naaman told the king of Syria what the maid said. The king wrote a letter to the king of Israel on Naaman's behalf. Naaman headed out toward Israel, the land he had just conquered. Think of the humility this took. He had to take the advice from a maid and be willing to go to another country and admit he needed help. If he had been too proud, he would've stayed at home.
Sometime, your answer won't come from people that look like you, people that come from your same culture, people that you're used to. You're going to have to do like Naaman and get out of your comfort zone and be willing to listen to somebody, maybe like this maid that's under you, that doesn't have the training, the experience. The key is to treat everyone with respect, value every person's opinion. If Naaman would've dismissed his maid, he would've missed his miracle. Don't judge the people God put in your life, by the outside, by titles, by position, by wealth, deciding who's important, who you're going to listen to. God uses everyone.
Naaman arrived in Israel with his horses, his chariots. Was a huge entourage, a big deal. He handed the letter to the king of Israel. The king was upset. He said, "Am I God? Do you think I can heal you? Why are you asking me for help"? The prophet Elisha heard about it and said, "Send him to me". Naaman traveled to Elisha's house, a great distance, knocked on the door, and the assistant answered. He said, "I'm Naaman". "I'm here to see Elisha". The assistant said, "Yes, I know, but he's busy, so he sent me". Naaman was used to dealing with heads of nations. He gave advice to the king of Syria.
I'm sure he thought, "Does Elisha know who I am? Does he realize how far I've traveled"? The assistant told him, "Elisha said, 'if you'll go wash in the Jordan River seven times, you'll be healed.'" Look at all these times Naaman had to put down his pride. A young maid told him what to do. The king wouldn't see him. Elisha was too busy. Now he has to wash in a dirty river. These were tests.
On the way to your miracle, there will be plenty of opportunities to let pride talk you out of it. It may not happen the way you think through the people you think. Stay open. Don't put God in a box. Don't start writing people off because they don't look like you, they don't live in your neighborhood, they don't attend your church. God likes to do unusual things. Naaman almost talked himself out of it. He'd done well up to this point, but when he was told, "Go wash in the Jordan River," that was the straw that broke the camel's back. He said, "No way, that's a dirty river. There are much better rivers over in Syria. Let's go back home".
He turned to leave when the scripture says his servant spoke up. Notice again, not a peer, not the prophet, not the king - another underling, somebody he normally wouldn't pay attention to. The servant said, "Naaman, if he would've asked you to do something hard, you would do it. Why don't you do this easy thing"? Naaman went to the river, washed one time, nothing happened; twice, nothing; three times, nothing. He looked at his skin and thought, "If it was going to work, surely I'd be getting better by now". He was tempted to get discouraged, but he just kept washing: five times, nothing; six times, nothing.
Imagine the humility, washing in your enemy's dirty river, again and again. Every voice said, "Naaman, you look like a fool," "You're wasting your time," but on the seventh time, when he came up out of that water, his skin was as clear as a baby. He was completely healed. God was showing us the healing was in the humility.
When you humble yourself and do what God's asking you to do, even when it doesn't make sense... forgive the person that did you wrong, be kind to the co-worker that betrayed you, take advice from someone that's not on your normal circles... as you pass these tests, things will begin to change. The blessing is in the obedience. The way to be obedient is to walk in humility because without humility, we'll make excuses: "I'm not going to listen to the maid. What does she know? I'm not going to do this simple thing, wash in a river". "Serve in the children's ministry? I want to be on the platform". No, do what God is asking you to do. Don't overanalyze it. Don't reason it out. Just do it.
"Well, Joel, I've been doing it for a long time, but nothing is changing". You're right where Naaman was. The first six times, nothing happened, but that didn't mean something was wrong. You're right on schedule. The good news is you're about to come up from your seventh dip, where suddenly healing comes, suddenly you're promoted, suddenly you'll see that breakthrough. Keep doing the right thing. You're close to your seventh time.
This is what my father did. He'd been pastoring a denominational church for many years. He was very successful. They had seen great growth and just built a beautiful new auditorium, but in 1959, he felt something stirring on the inside. He knew he was supposed to leave that church and launch out on his own, but the only building he could find was an abandoned feed store. He could've thought, "God, you had me leave my big, prestigious church to come down to this old feed store? I had thousands of members, and now I have 90 members. That doesn't make sense". But God's ways are not our ways.
My father had to put his pride down. For 13 years, Lakewood hardly grew, had less than 200 members, a fraction of what my father had before. Friends would come by: "John, what are you doing still pastoring this small church"? My dad didn't get discouraged. He kept being his best, serving those 90 people, doing what he knew God put in his heart.
The scripture says, "When you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, in due time, he will exalt you". When you walk in humility, there is a due time God has already established where he will catapult you ahead, a due time where he will thrust you to the next level. When you come up out of your seventh dip, when it's your due time, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. When God is ready to exalt you, you'll be exalted.
In 1972, 13 years after my father started Lakewood, he came in to his due time. It was like somebody opened the faucet. People started coming from all over the city. Lakewood grew to a church of thousands. If my father was here, he would tell you, "The promotion was in the humility". He had to be willing to do things that didn't make sense, to pastor 90 people for years when he had been pastoring thousands.
God knows what he's doing. He knows how to get you to the next level. Like Naaman, he knows how to cure the leprosy, but it may not be the way you thought, with the people you thought, on the timetable you thought, but if you'll keep walking in humility, being obedient, like my father, you will come in to your due time where God does more than you can ask or think.
In the story of the prodigal son, the young man left home and wasted his inheritance living wild, partying, making poor choices. He finally ran out of money, ended up working in a hog pen, feeding hogs. There was a famine in the land, and he had to eat the hog food to survive. He was miserable, depressed, dirty, and it was nobody's fault except his own. One day, sitting in the hog pen, he thought to himself, "The employees at my father's house, they live better than I do. I should go back home".
Something came alive on the inside, a spark of hope. He was excited. Then he thought, "What am I talking about? I can't go back and let people see me like this. I'll look like a fool. I can't admit that I made a mistake". Pride rose up and tried to keep him from going back home, but the scripture says, "When he came to himself, he said, 'I will arise and go back to my father's house.'" He came to the point where he humbled himself. He was willing to admit, "I've made a mistake. I've done wrong".
He put his pride down and headed toward his house. His father was watching for him, came running out, gave him a hug and said, "Kill the fatted calf. My son has come back home". Are you letting pride keep you out of the father's house, worried about what people will think, your image? Can I tell you, we've all blown it. We've all made mistakes, gotten off course. Don't let pride hold you back.
The new beginning is in your humility. When you do like this young man and say, "God, I admit I've done wrong," "I'm not where I should be, but I'm ready to come back home," God will receive you with open arms. That is the first step to getting out of the hog pen. You don't have to be perfect. God is not looking at your performance. He's looking at your heart. "Well, Joel, I don't have it all together". None of us do. It's in our weaknesses, God's power shows up the greatest. When you come to God with humility and ask for help, he'll not only receive you, but like he did for the prodigal son, he'll put a signifying your authority. He'll give you a royal robe, signifying his favor, and he'll say, "Let's have a party". He'll celebrate you and take you further than you've ever imagined.
Friends, the new beginning, the promotion, the healing, it's in your humility. I'm asking us to put our pride down and start doing what God is asking you to do. Maybe he's asking you to forgive or to treat people better, or like my father, to take a step of faith. Whatever it is, don't talk yourself out of it. May not seem fair. You may not understand it, but if you'll put your pride down and do it anyway, you are setting yourself up for a due time. I believe and declare, because you're humbling exalt you. Like Naaman, you're going to come up out of your seventh dip, where suddenly healing comes, promotion, vindication, freedom, abundance, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus' name.