Jesus poses two questions tonight as he gets at an issue so important for our spiritual health. The topic we’re digging into is: being neither hypocritical in action, nor paralyzed into inaction. Take a listen. Jesus tells us:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
Do you agree with this statement? “Hypocritical actions are one of the great damaging forces in our world.” I’m thinking especially of damaging to relationships, like friendships. Do you agree? Any disagreement?
Okay, now let me focus the statement in a little further: “Hypocritical actions are one of the great damaging forces in our world …and within churches.” If they are present, if they are allowed to go unchecked, do you agree? Yes.
We might be led to ponder adopting the minimalist approach that is popular in our culture today, namely “I’ll just keep myself from commenting on anything that anyone else does, to avoid the impression of being unlovingly hypocritical.” But before you go there, or if you’ve bought into that thinking to some degree, I’ve got an additional statement for us to consider:
“Inaction is also a great damaging force in our culture in our age.” Make the statement specific to when someone else with whom you are connected – family or close friend – is involved in something harmful. Adopting an “I’ll do nothing, say nothing, in order to avoid the impression of being unloving or hypocritical” approach, results many times in a great deal of damage impacting lives. Do you agree?
Let’s pinpoint the type of toxic effects for relationships that are in play with either one of the problematic approaches we’ve identified: being hypocritical in action, as well as being paralyzed into inaction. And keep in view there is more than our relationships with one another involved here. There is also the relationship for each one of us, as Christians, with our God that is connected here.
If we see someone in our family in Christ doing something harmful, if we do nothing we allow something toxic to go on working its damaging effects. Think about that proposition. It sounds silly! I’m sure you see the disconnect in that. We, as a family in Christ, want to help one another with identifying whatever is causing hurt or harm.
Doing that is important. And how we go at that goal is equally critical. If any “holier-than-thou” / any pride or self-righteous attitude is in the offering, the “help” being offered is actually likely to multiply the harm, rather than help remove it. Why? For starters, any correction offered with such an attitude is harmful to the one offering it. Pride or a self-righteous spirit would indicate some spiritual infection in thoughts and actions of that individual. And in many cases, the recipient of the correction too will experience additional hurt or harm. How so? Either they’ll see the self-righteous attitude for the hypocrisy that it really is, and be understandably turned off by it…. Or, there is this possibility: they can be potentially misled by the appeal of self-righteousness and pride. They may pursue the corrected behavior being offered, but if they do that with the wrong motivation of self-righteousness themselves, it is still spiritually harmful.
One word helps us guard against the immensely damaging attitude of hypocrisy when we step in to help someone else. It’s Jesus word: “first.” Matthew 7:5 - "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
Now as you see Jesus’ “first,” I want you to look at 1 Timothy 1:15, and see the apostle Paul use this “first” for himself:
This saying is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” of whom I am the first."
That “first” is a literal rendering where many English translations say “worst.”
As we place Jesus’ “first” in Matthew 7:5 beside the “first” here in Paul’s statement, we can each see a personal perspective for us to make our own. As we view ourselves - and everyone else in relation to us - I’m “first” among the sinners. If you’re standing “first” in line, seeing your sin, and then being on the receiving end of Jesus’ full and fully undeserved forgiveness and peace, - got it? - think of how that affects every interaction you have as you turn back to everyone else you face and encounter in your relationships.
Then you and I are not coming from any attitude of “holier than thou” or pride, but from an awareness of “here is a sinner who has received Jesus’ healing.” “Then” also “here is someone happy to share the healing medicine of God’s truth and love.”
Just think how different that is than if I were to be turning around to the people around me, without first standing before Jesus with the issue of my sin addressed… If I came to someone else to talk to them about their problem, but I go about that thinking I don’t have any problems myself or my problems are minor compared theirs… how much help am I going to be? That’s a recipe for turning them off (to disregard anything I offer), or tempting them to join in hypocrisy / pride themselves.
You could find example after example of harm done by those trying to correct others when they themselves have spiritual planks unaddressed.
Notice I say, unaddressed. But once addressed, don’t leave Jesus’ “then” undone. Jesus gives a 2nd part to his answer to the questions he poses here: “First… then.” How important is this “then”?
I’ve got another statement I want you to evaluate: “The opposite of love isn’t always hateful action. It is, maybe even sometimes more powerfully, felt in apathy.” Do you agree? Can lack of action cause such a negative impact in lives? Can it cause such negative kind of impact in a church, a Christian family?
Our Savior knows what He is talking about when he teaches us this “first… then” truth.
Hypocritical actions do harm in churches. Think of the conclusion people are likely to draw if such actions are left unaddressed.
Let’s follow Jesus’ direction. When we see / hear something wrong from someone in our group, let’s lovingly, humbly act.
Pastor Earle Treptow wrote an article entitled “Judge Me, Please!” I’m going to wrap up our topic with a few of his encouragements [2015/05/31/in FIC Features, Forward in Christ - Judge me, please! Earle D. Treptow].
While standing in line to board a plane, I noticed her tattoo. “No one can judge me,” it said. What struck me later about her tattoo was its placement. It was on the back of her neck, a place she probably didn’t see all that often. The words of the tattoo, then, weren’t really intended as words of comfort or encouragement for her. The tattoo meant to sound a warning to others. “You are going to judge me? Please! Who are you to talk to me about my attitude or my words or my actions? You’re no better than I am.”
We know exactly where she’s coming from! We don’t particularly care to have people question our attitudes or confront us about our actions. If they want to praise us for what we do, we are willing to listen. But should they wish to address some failing, we definitely don’t want to hear it.
That, however, is not the community in which the Lord wants his people to live. He brought us into his church and gave us our fellow believers for our benefit. Because he wants you to live with him forever, the Lord puts fellow believers into your life. He moves them to love you enough to judge you, to confront you with your sinful attitudes, and to rebuke your sinful actions. He does so for your everlasting good, to lead you to repentance and rescue you from death. Knowing our Savior’s love for our souls, we humbly ask our brothers and sisters in Christ, “Judge me, please!”
Or, to put that in terms of Jesus’ encouragement from Matthew 7… As we turn to one another after walking to the foot of our Savior, we say, “Please, help me see the ‘specks’ in my life.” May God grant this for His glory and for our good! Amen.
For an athlete, I don’t know if there’s anything greater -- Standing at the top of the podium, flowers in hand, gold medal around the neck, TV cameras in your face and your nation’s anthem playing in the background.
But what’s it take to get there?
Meet Chloe Kim. She began snowboarding around age 4. After a few years of home practice, she went to her first ‘meet’, placed well and her dad realized she was really good. When she turned 8, he quit his job and dedicated himself to being her trainer. Together they went across the country. They trained every day and missed out on the ‘normal high school life’ in the hopes of getting that Olympic glory.
And she did. After 9 years of constant dedication. She won the Women’s Snowboarding Half Pipe. She got the gold medal. She stood on the podium. She received Olympic Glory!
But what about God’s kingdom?
What does it take to get heavenly glory?
Today we’re going to look at that question – and the answer might not be what you expect. Before we do, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Jesus’ Glory
Today’s lesson comes from Mark 9. It’s shortly after the events on the Mount of Transfiguration. We talked about that last week. Jesus went up on a mountain top with Peter, James and John to do some pretty amazing thing. His face started glowing. His clothes started glowing. He spoke with two long dead prophets. He summoned an ethereal cloud and a voice from the cloud spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” (9:7)
It was amazing and also pretty clear proof that Jesus is God himself.
(If you missed this message, check it out on our website or our podcast. It’s a pretty incredible account from God’s Word.)
But for Peter, James and John – the eyewitnesses to these events? It must have been exhilarating.
I picture them walking with a spring in their step.
Their heads held high.
Their smiles from ear to ear:
“That was insane!!!”
“I know right? There’s no way any of this was a trick. The only one who can do that kind of thing – is God!”
“And this is perfect. Because miracles like that are what we need to really get this Christianity movement going.”
“Yep. All he needs to do is duplicate that moment down at the synagogue and the people will stop giving him grief. They’ll have to believe. There’s no way that you can look at his divinely glowing face, watch him talking to long dead prophets, and hear that incredible voice speak – and NOT be convinced he is God’s one and only Son.”
“Do you think we should talk to him about it? It’s a good plan.”
But before they could approach Jesus, Jesus approached them.
He asked them to all gather on the side of the road.
He wanted to share with them his plan.
Just not the same one --
The Son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him. (v.31)
And Jesus kept talking, but the disciples didn’t really hear.
You have the ability to do amazing things. To make it so obvious that you are the Son of God – that you are God himself!
And your plan is to die?
You can make your face shine with heavenly brilliance -- And you’d prefer it drip with blood?
You can summon the dead to life itself – and you’d prefer to let people summon your life to death?
You had God’s incredible voice vouch for you– but you’d prefer to have angry men vouch for your crucifixion?
I thought what happened on the mountain was insane; but, no…this…is insane.
And maybe you can see why they’re thinking like that. Look at what Jesus says, The Son of man, will be delivered into the hands of men. That verb: “Delivered.” That’s something that you use for inanimate objects. The UPS delivers a package. The USPS delivers the mail. The farmer delivers some eggs. The Organic Dairyman delivers some milk. The pizza guy delivers pizza. The late pizza guy delivers cold pizza.
You deliver inanimate barely important objects.
But…Jesus…was saying that he would be delivered.
Treated like some piece of property.
Jesus who created and own all things would be treated like a common eBay shipment.
And when he was in their hands – it wasn’t much better. He would suffer and be killed. Think about that.
The Creator of life itself killed at the hands of his creation.
The Maker of all things made to suffer horrible things.
The one who maintains our heart beats – allowing his heartbeat to stop at the hands of the very heart beats he is maintaining.
This is humiliating.
And Jesus knows this is going to happen. We know he does because this takes place about a year before it happens. And yet – if you follow the story – Jesus still goes to Jerusalem. He does not hide from those angry men. He delivers himself to his murderers.
Why? If that was me –
I’d get out of Dodge (Wherever Dodge is).
But not Jesus.
He keeps going.
He makes the plan happen.
He undergoes extreme humiliation.
The Bible says this, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23) In other words, if you want a divine, gold medal from God – if you want to rise to the podium in his heavenly kingdom. If you want to be in his heavenly graces with the national anthem of the Kingdom of God playing in the background, you just have to be sinless.
It's like Shaun White having to get a 9.75 score to win. Only your score needs to be perfect!
Not hard right?
Unless…you’ve sinned already?
Then, you’ve fallen short.
But the passage continues, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by God’s grace in Christ Jesus.” (3:23b)
In other words:
Jesus did live perfectly.
Then, he changed score cards with you.
He switched his perfect 10 with your -464.
He took the fate that comes with falling short.
And he gave you the glory that comes with rising above.
This was not an accident.
This was part of Jesus’ plan.
Because Jesus is more concerned with your glory than his.
He wants you in his kingdom.
He wants you to experience heaven.
He wants you to dwell in God’s eternal glory.
And if he had to humble himself in order to earn that for you – so be it.
II. A Disciple’s Glory
Back to the disciples. Jesus had just finished his soliloquy about his death, but the disciples were too confused to really ask him about it.
Still…you might expect them to discuss it.
You might expect them to discuss this incredible sacrifice.
To be impressed by this incredible humility.
They were conversing, but not about Jesus:
“Listen Peter. I don’t care if you got to walk on the water. You fell in. I wouldn’t have because I’m better than you.”
“Yea, right Philip! You didn’t even get invited up the mountain. You’re obviously way less important than me.”
“But dude – you tried to build a tent for God. How dumb is that? The only high ranking you have is a high ranking for foolishness.”
“So what --- at least I’m bold. You haven’t even done anything worthy of mention if some book about us was written.”
“He called me Peter. Peter means rock. What did he call you? Yellow bellied fisherman?
“Ya huh…times infinity.”
The argument continued until they reached their destination. It quieted down as they greeted their host for the night and moved into the living room. After all the disciples made themselves comfy – ignoring the tension between them, Jesus entered. He had a question:
“What were you talking about on the road?”
And this is one of those father/child moments. Because he knows what they’re talking about. And they know what they’re talking about. And they also know – it wasn’t a very impressive conversation. It especially looks bad after Jesus had just told them about dying for them.
So…they didn’t answer.
They stared at the ceiling hoping Jesus would forget he had asked a question.
Jesus spoke: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all.” (v.35)
As in put others first.
As in serve others first.
As in view others better than yourself.
As in worry more about their glory than yours.
But to really get the point across. Jesus looked around the room. Over in the corner – a young child. On the ground. In the dirt. Runny nose and food stains down the front of his shirt.
Jesus lifted him up and put him on his knee.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcome me does not welcome me, but the One who sent me.” (v.37)
Do you see Jesus’ point? It’s totally backwards from this world’s perspective.
This world says “Be the best. And if you want to get to be the best, be kind to the popular, the scholars, the politicians, the rich, the famous…”
But Jesus? He says differently.
Imagine putting Jesus’ teaching into a practical scenario. You’re hosting a dinner at your home. In walks a bigwig in town. A politician. He’s in a three-piece suit, drives a Lexus and has a bright designer tie held on by a solid gold tie tack.
His personal security tells you that he’s hungry for some pate.
As you are heading to the kitchen to get the important treat for the important guest – a tug on your pant leg. It’s your 2-year-old nephew. He’s stinky. His hands are grubby. He doesn’t have a gold tie tack, but a slimy pacifier. His lip quivers – his universal sign for hunger.
Who do you feed first?
Important, popular, rich politician?
Or slimy, grubby, crying toddler?
Ignore the caviar;
It’s time to get the Cheerios.
Because glory in God’s kingdom comes in serving others.
Glory in God’s kingdom comes in humility.
It was true about Jesus.
It’s true about you too.
Starting with salvation! Salvation doesn’t come to the one who says, “I’m pretty awesome. I’m the best.” It comes to the one who says, “I’m not that awesome. Jesus is the best. Jesus help me. Jesus save me.”
And it’s the same way in his church. Our goal is not to be the “BEST” at church. We don’t serve just so that we can get our names in 12-point Times New Roman font in the bulletin. No. We serve because Jesus loves us and we serve all others because Jesus loves us.
It’s a different approach than the world’s approach.
But that’s because it’s God’s approach.
III. WHAT NOW?
A few things to keep in mind about humility fellow disciples:
1. Strive to be the VERY Last
That’s an important adverb that Jesus adds on. He says, “Be the very last.” Not “Close to the last” or “farther back than most” but the “very last”
That means, as Jesus’ disciples, we serve all that we come into contact with.
Not just the people we like.
Not just the people who are rich.
Not just the people who are popular and cool.
Jesus desires us to serve all above ourselves.
That means serving the little child.
It means serving the poor.
It means serving the lonely.
It means serving the sick, the sinner, and the jailed.
It means serving the people that the world won’t serve because we aren’t a part of this world – we are a part of God’s world.
2. Serve in Jesus’ Name
Because sometimes it’s very hard to serve others. Especially when they are unthankful, rude and repeatedly awful.
But we don’t serve people because they’ve earned it.
We serve people because Jesus earned it.
And by it – I mean glory for you and me through his death on the cross!
Remember – we had fallen short and he had risen above, but he switched places with us to serve us and bring us glory.
And now he says, “You have glory. You will be in my kingdom. I did this for you – so won’t you give glory to others?”
In short – Make Jesus your motivation to serve others.
3. Remember the Last Part of Jesus’ prophecy
The disciples seemed to miss an important part of Jesus’ prediction. They heard the suffering part. They heard the delivered over to men part. They heard the dying part.
But that wasn’t all he predicted. Jesus said, “The Son of man will be delivered over to the hands of men, he will suffer and die and on the third day he will rise again.” (Mk. 9:31)
The disciples missed that hope then.
But years later they would remember it.
They had seen it fulfilled.
They had seen him completely lack glory on the cross…
And be completely surrounded by it at the empty tomb.
Remember that. Jesus suffered humiliation, but it resulted in glory.
Serve in his kingdom.
Because that same Jesus will bring you that same glory. Amen.
We are starting a Building Project. Have I told you?
After years of planning, pursuing, praying, discussion, dreaming, and dollar raising, we are getting much closer to make the Precious Lambs Expansion a reality. We’ve got the loan. We’ve got plans headed to the City of Raleigh. We’ve got design people designing. An architect architecting. Prayer warriors praying. It’s exciting.
But as exciting as it is, there’s another truth that has been entering my mind a lot lately. Hidden behind the excitement is this truth: I’ve never done a Building Project. My church at home did one, but all I did to support it was collect about 2 dollars in dimes. Now it’s a bit different. Now I’m the pastor. It feels a bit overwhelming.
Maybe you feel that way, too.
Then, again you may have other building projects that are intimidating. Maybe you’re building a marriage. Maybe you’re building a family. Maybe you’re building a career, a reputation, or a new faith connection to Jesus – building these things can be just as intimidating.
Where do we start?
The answer is the same – whether you’re building something architectural, familial, or spiritual -- We start with God’s Word.
Over the next four weeks, we’re going to be taking a look at God’s Word – as it describes a very large building project that the ancient Israelites underwent. Our goal is to glean some knowledge from looking at that Building Project that we can put into practice for this Building Project – and our own, personal building projects.
Before we do, let’s say a prayer and ask God to bless us. O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear. Open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. A Grand Idea
The building project we’re looking at is you may not have known was in the Bible. Open up your Bibles to Nehemiah. That’s right Nehemiah. His book is in the Old Testament right between Ezra and Esther. A guy who’s usually known for being super short (Get it? Knee – high – miah.)
Nehemiah lived around 445 B.C. That’s about 140 years after the Israelites had been exiled from Jerusalem. Here’s what happened. The Israelites had been ransacked by the Babylonian empire. They had attacked Jerusalem, destroyed the city, and take the survivors to Babylon as captives.
Nehemiah’s ancestors had been a part of that exile. But thankfully God had blessed the Israelites while they were there. Famous names like Daniel (the guy in the Lion’s Den) and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (the three guys who were thrown in the fiery furnace) were giving high government positions. They kept those positions when the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian empire.
Nehemiah lived during the time of that Persian empire – and he too was blessed. He worked for the government and had a highly respected job in the king’s court as the king’s cupbearer.
One day -- perhaps as Nehemiah is drying off one of the beautiful crystal goblets that the king drank from -- his own brother shows up at the palace. This is a big deal. His brother had been in Israel – which was over 900 miles away – so it had been awhile.
And I’m sure Nehemiah was excited to see him.
How have you been? How is the family? Did you bring me anything?
But then Nehemiah asked about his homeland. How are things in Israel? How are my people? How is Jerusalem?
The question made his brother’s face droop.
What is it? What’s wrong?
It’s…Nehemiah, it’s not good.
What’s not good?
Well, Nehemiah, do you remember all those stories we used to listen to from Grandpa? About how Jerusalem was a magnificent city. About how it was the holiest of sanctuaries. About how Solomon and David had made it the grandest sight-seeing place on earth? Well, it’s not such a sight anymore. Now it’s a disaster.
Nehemiah 1:3 -- Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and distress. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.
The same fire that had been used to destroy the city 142 years earlier. That means the city wasn’t doing any better than it had been after the destruction. It was still a disaster.
After Nehemiah hears that report, something very interesting happens in the Scriptures. Suddenly, it changes from the 3rd person perspective, (i.e. he, she, it) and the writing style changes to the 1st person.
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
I think that’s really telling. Nehemiah is so hurt, so disappointed, so torn apart by this news about Jerusalem that he personally invests himself in the story when he’s reflecting on it years later.
And he fell to the floor! Have you ever been that sad? So sad that you literally fall to your knees in disappointment? That’s the kind of stuff Olympians will be doing in the upcoming days. Nehemiah does it when he hears about the dismalness of a city that he’s most likely never been to!
And he weeps. A grown man! A Government official! Crying. With tears of sadness.
And he mourns. The sadness becomes a way of life. Day after day. He’s in a funk. His Facebook posts would have received plenty of encouragement.
And he fasts. He refuses food, drinks nothing but water, and focuses himself on the situation at hand.
And he got an idea. A rather big idea.
What if…what if I heard about this for a reason?
What if I’ve been given my job here in the palace for a purpose?
What if I return to Jerusalem? What if I reenergize my people? What if we reorganize?
What if we rebuild our city?
II. A Humble Prayer
This was no small task. He would have to travel for months. He would have to uplift a people that was down in the dumps. He would have to oversee a grand architectural project. He would have to get permission from the king to make this happen. He would have to be contractor, governor, cheerleader and visionary –all in one!
What made Nehemiah believe he could do this? Look at his prayer:
(1) Acknowledges God’s Character
5 O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome, God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.
Notice right away what Nehemiah starts talking about. He doesn’t start talking about how great he is, how wealthy he is, how great his social status is or even how smart he is. Nope.
He starts by talking about His God.
5 O Lord, God of heaven! That’s a big God! A God much bigger than Nehemiah! A God who made the universe in six days. A God who caused mountains to spring up and grand canyons to be made. A God who grew plants out of nothing, trees out of nothing, flowers out of nothing…A God, for whom, rejuvenating Jerusalem would be no problem!
And (side note) if rebuilding a destroyed city would be no problem for God –an Early Childhood Ministry center would be no problem for God. Neither will rebuilding your marriage, building your family or building a closer connection between you and God.
And Nehemiah notes why God will do this. He’s a God who keeps his covenant of God. A God who would love to do it because -- because of your awesome love. Because of the love that withholds the promise of the Savior. Because of a love that is remarkably unlike human love. Because of a love that is love is incredible, unconditional and constant!
God – do it, because you’re God.
(2) Confesses His (and his People’s) Sin
6-7 I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house have committed again you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the laws and commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
Now this is interesting. Because sometimes, when something awful happens we blame God. We might expect Nehemiah’s prayer to be a lot like that. “God you jerk! God, how could you let this happen? God, you’re a joke and your city is a joke.”
But Nehemiah knows better. Nehemiah was a student of history. He knew that God allowed Jerusalem to be ransacked only after he sent prophet after prophet after prophet, scripture after scripture after scripture to warn them – stop worshipping other Gods! Stop committing sexual immorality. Stop sinning! Stop remaining in unbelief and heading on a one track path to hell!
Nehemiah doesn’t claim that God was wrong. He confesses that they were wrong.
And not just the nation of Israel. He repents of those sins -- which, if you’re keeping track, had happened 142 years earlier! Long before Nehemiah was even born. But he also includes himself. He recognizes his own sins, he confesses his own failures and he repents of his own sinfulness.
This is the exact opposite of a job application. In your resume, you talk about your credentials, how much good you’ve done and how great of a fit you are for a job. Nehemiah’s application for God’s help is essentially – I’m from a family of sinners. We’ve sinned a lot. WE caused our own destruction.
And – oh yeah– I’m really good at the family business – because I’m a horrible, no good, very bad sinner too.
(3) Appeals to God’s Promise
Hmm. It kinda seems like Nehemiah should have rehearsed his prayer. Because now that he’s mentioned how awful he and the Israelites have been – he’s basically disqualified them for any help, right?
Wrong. Because that’s not the reason that he is asking for help. It’s not based on their merit.
It’s based on God’s promise.
8 Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, “if you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations…Which is exactly what the Israelites had done. They had sinned, broken God’s commands, and suffered the consequences for their own actions. But – And this “but” means there was more to the promise –But if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.
Essentially – We didn’t keep our promise; O God, keep Yours.
But Nehemiah’s not wrong. Because that’s what God does. 1 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he is faithful; for he cannot deny himself. That’s what God did in Jesus. He sent Jesus even though we hadn’t even remotely kept his commands! He lived perfectly in our place, when we had lived for our own sinful desires. He died innocently in our place, when we had earned that death. He rose triumphantly from the grave – to promise us heaven which we hadn’t done anything to get!
That’s why Nehemiah is so confident in God’s blessing. Not because of himself, but because of God and who He is.
III. WHAT NOW?
It’s so easy for us to get confused.
I was talking to a few people recently about our building project plans. I was really excited as I was talking about it – as I usually am – and I told them about all the cool things that were going to happen as a result of it. I talked about how we’d be able to reach more families, tell more kids about Jesus, connect with more people in the community, use our old space to connect with refugees, reinvigorate our youth group, and in general – do awesome things!
When I finally got done (or rather – I needed to take a breath) the person I was talking to said, “Good. You deserve it.”
Hmm? Really? Do we? We’ve worked hard? There have been countless members of this congregation saying prayers, offerings gifts, teaching, supporting, assistant teaching, cooking, serving on committees, planning, and generally envisioning a building over there for years. Don’t we deserve it?
Do you remember why Jerusalem was in ruins? It's because they hadn’t kept God’s commands. Commands like “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love God more than anything else. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t lust. Don’t hate.”
Have you done that? Have we done that?
Here’s the truth. We don’t deserve God’s blessing. We don’t deserve salvation and we don’t deserve to build a big building.
Honestly, whatever it is your building – a new house, a family, a reputation, a career – be very careful of that false concept. We don’t deserve anything – anything besides – what God’s Word says we deserve, “What has been earned because of sin is death."
But that doesn’t mean we won’t get God’s blessings. It doesn’t mean we can’t be confident.
Look at the end of Nehemiah’s prayer in verse 11 He’s confident even though he’s speaking on behalf of a people filled with sin: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
That doesn’t sound like the request of a nervous man. That’s the sounds of confidence. Not in himself. Not in his people. Not in their goodness. But confidence in God.
It’s the same confidence we have.
Confidence that Jesus lived for us.
Confidence that Jesus died for us.
Confidence that Jesus rose for us.
Confidence that we are forgiven.
And confidence that He will hear us and bless us, whatever our building Project.
Confidence that He will hear you and bless whatever your building project is.
Because He’s God and that’s what God does.
And God’s…pretty good at building. Amen.
Today we are continuing our series called DEEP by taking a look at DEEP HUMILITY. We want to find out what kind of humility our God requires of us, assess how well we are doing at that, and reflect on the humility of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are going to start today by taking a look at Numbers 12.
Miriam shook her head in disgust. “Look at that smug look on his face. He’s got his fancy robe and “godly” walking staff. That Moses sure thinks he’s something.”
Aaron nodded his head in agreement as he watched his brother dart from the tent of meeting. Moses had plenty of those meetings. They were one on one conversations with God. Conversations where God spoke to him. Conversations where God told Moses what he wanted the people of Israel to do.
God never did that with them.
As a group of leaders approached Moses for spiritual guidance, Miriam continued, “And why does everyone thinks he is so great! Do they realize he isn’t even married to an Israelite? He’s got a Cushite – a CUSHITE – as his wife. Not an Israelite. He doesn’t even follow the laws that God gave him.”
Aaron tensed his jaw, “What gets me is how these people seem to think that Moses is the only one God has used to lead them. Don’t they remember the story of the burning bush? Sure. God came to Moses and asked him to lead us out of slavery. But Moses was a wimp about it. He didn’t want to do the talking because he was “slow of speech and tongue.” Remember? He was too scared. I’m had to speak for him. If it wasn’t for me, this Exodus would never have taken place.”
"I hear ya,” Miriam continued, "After all, if it wasn’t for me, Moses wouldn’t even be alive. I helped mom hide him in the basket to keep him safe from the king’s murderous decree. I watched from the reeds to make sure he floated in the river. I helped the Egyptian princess find a way for her to raise him as her son. I’m just as important as Moses is!”
As Moses dismissed the men he was talking to, Aaron sneered. "I just don’t get it…What makes Moses so great!?!"
I. The Biggest Threat to Humility
Miriam and Aaron kind of have a point. Moses is the big wig in the Exodus account. Still, even today, the answer to a jeopardy question about the Exodus is almost always Moses. Charleston Heston played Moses, not Aaron in the Ten Commandments. The Bible story that kids learn isn’t called, “Miriam Keeps Moses Safe while He floats down the River in a Basket.” Generally speaking society does not place Aaron and Miriam on the same level as Moses.
Let’s try and put it into perspective. Think about your job. Imagine you’ve been working at your company for years. You always come on time. You always finish your projects by the deadline. You always make the boss’ coffee just as he likes it – three packers of sugar, two things of cream, and 1 swish of the wrist.
After all those years of hard work and dedication, how do you feel when the promotion goes to the guy who's been there six months? Do you run to give them a high five? Do you gather around the water cooler and tell all of your coworkers how that guy is the most deserving guy in the history of deserving guys? Do you put a nice Facebook post online about how “My coworker just got a promotion that I deserved lots more and I am absolutely and completely in agreement with it!” Do you get them a cake from Kroger with icing that says “Happy Promotion Day!”? Or if you connect the sprinkles underneath the icing does it read, “This promotion should have been mine, what a loser.”
If you struggle to be happy for someone else’s successes, then jealousy has affected you!
It's what happened to Aaron and Miriam. Listen to how the Bible describes it in Numbers 12:2, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”
What's interesting in this section is how jealousy inflates pride. Aaron and Miriam feel the need to talk about how important they are to make up for the fact that they don't feel that important in reality.
When I was about five years old, my dad took my younger sister and me ice fishing. We were in a small town in Minnesota out on a small lake. My dad was probably pretty pumped up for some Father-Kid time. He got us dressed. He set up the ice shanty. He drilled a hole with the auger.
Then, somehow my sister accidentally put her foot through the hole. She lost her boot and her foot was all wet.
My dad immediately helped her up. He took her into the shanty. He dried her foot. Her gave her those little foot warmer thingies. He poured her some hot chocolate from the Thermos.
And I got jealous! I started thinking, "I'm cold too. I'm your child too. Don't I deserve some hot chocolate? Don't I deserve some attention?"
So I put my foot in the hole.
Needless to say I got attention -- just not good attention.
Isn't that the way people roll? Don't we begin to sing our own praises as soon as we feel we've been overlooked? We think there's no time to be humble; it's time to be prideful!
II. The Origins of Jealousy
Where does jealousy come from? Is it a product of unfairness in the world? In other words, if other people treated you right and gave you the respect you deserve, would you even have a problem with jealousy?
Consider Aaron and Miriam’s case. They were convinced that this was all Moses’ fault as if he were some kind of ancient, propaganda machine. Granted this was long before Tweets about how awesome it was to hang out with God and Instagram photos of him having a private meeting with the pillar of cloud, but maybe Moses accomplished this through a whisper campaign, through paying off some of the tribal chieftains to recognize him as leader.
This contradicts the very next verse in our story. 3 Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. This means we should probably cross off Moses as the reason that so many people looked up to Moses rather than the Miriam and Aaron.
…Do you know who wrote Numbers? Moses. Suddenly, verse 3 doesn’t seem to carry as much weight. Moses becomes his own character witness!
It’d be like a mom and dad going into civil court for custody of their children and starting off their time on the stand by saying, “I’m an awesome parents. I’m one of the best. Trust me your honor. The kids will be better off with me. That’s the truth. Documents? No, I didn’t bring any. Specific instances? I don’t have one. But trust me. I’m the best.”
Now it’s Moses’ word against Miriam and Aaron’s.
Then, an infallible witness makes an appearance. Scripture says, “4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” It’s kind of like getting called into the principal’s office – only instead of detention, you might be banished from God’s kingdom forever. "So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam."
God said, “When there is a prophet among you, I the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” Talk about a character witness. God has Moses’ back.
But this isn’t so much about God boasting about Moses. Look closely at his words, “My servant Moses” as in, “I chose him to be that servant.” “I speak to him face to face,” as in, “I chose to speak to him.” “I let him see my form,” as in, “I allowed him this privilege.”
Miriam and Aaron didn’t have a problem with Moses. They had a problem with God.
WRITE THIS DOWN: The heart of jealousy is discontent with God. Essentially, subconsciously, Miriam and Aaron were saying, “God you’ve got it wrong! How dare you choose Moses for this honor instead of me!?!”
Essentially, subconsciously, when we are jealous of others, we too are discontent with God.
· “I can’t believe how much money that person has – you are a fool for giving it to them God.”
· “I am angry that woman has children and I don’t – it’s not fair God.”
· “That guy got the promotion and not me? God what’s your deal?”
· “That person is in an authority position at church – God you must not to spread the Gospel as much as you say…”
Look at what happens next. "9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them. 10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow.”
Leprosy is nothing to scoff at. It eats away at your skin. It is highly contagious. It’s incurable.
This isn’t a coincidence. This wasn’t the result of Miriam getting too close to the leper colony that was located outside the camp. No. Not with how quickly the change happened. This was God. This was his judgment.
God’s message is clear. He hates jealousy!
III. Humility Solves Jealousy
Miriam’s sneer had turned into a look of shock. She shook with fright. Aaron was just as shaken up. He had fed into the jealousy. He was just as guilty. Miriam’s disease – her impending death was a result of his jealousy, his pride, his sin!
Aaron thought for a moment. He fought back tears. He did the only thing he could do.
He got down on his knees.
“Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
In other words – “Forgive us and save us.”
Notice Aaron doesn’t even go directly to God. He isn’t that presumptuous and jealous anymore. He doesn’t think he’s earned special treatment. He can only plead through mercy through the man he was once jealous of.
A change underwent Aaron. His heart was no longer jealous, but humble. God’s Word this morning urges you to do the same. If you struggle with jealousy, take a note from Aaron. Humble yourself!!! Admit your struggle. Confess your sins to God.
That’s how we start our service. Open your bulletin and back up with me. Look at that section called “Confession of Sins.” We say together, Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. Talk about humility! We read that together, think about what’s happening!?!
· Longtime “holy looking” church members are called to confess , “I am sinful from birth.”
· People who spend hours making sure their Social Media profile presents them as the “perfect mom” or the “Christian man” are recalling “the countless ways I’ve sinned against you.”
· Self-made entrepreneurs who demand they get what they deserve are telling God, “I don’t deserve this.”
· People who take pride in standing on their own; get down on their knees and ask “God help us!”
Here’s why humility is more valuable than jealousy. Jealousy sees blindly and incurs God’s wrath. But humility sees clearly and receives God’s forgiveness.
James 4:6 says this, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
This is true in Aaron and Miriam’s case. Look at what happens next. Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
And God? He wasn’t prideful. God didn’t insist on doing harm. God didn’t make Miriam grovel on the ground for awhile until He was satisfied – though HE CERTAINLY COULD HAVE.
God was humble. God forgave. God healed. But this wasn’t even the most humble God ever was.
Hundreds of years later Jesus – who lived in a beautiful, divine, heavenly mansion of gold, left it for the humble abode of earth. Then, He lived a life perfectly. A life worthy of a statue being built. A perfect life worthy of being boasted about.
But he didn’t. Instead, He humbled himself. He went to the cross. He looked up at our Heavenly Father and said, “God – do you see that guy in row three of Gethsemane Church? His sins? I did that. Punish me.” "And do you see that woman over their who’s listening to the sermon online? Her sins? Those are mine, too. Punish me.” "In fact, do you see all those sins in the world – sins that would make someone scum beneath even the most devilish of people’s toes? – Those are mine too." Talk about humility.
He did it in the worst way. Philippians 2 tells us, “Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but… he gave himself up to death – even death on a cross!”
Death on a cross was humbling. It was a terrible capital punishment. It was reserved for the worst of criminals. It was observed by thousands who would flock to see the punishment and ridicule the punished.
But Jesus underwent this because his humility would conquer our jealousy.
It’s because of this that our Confession of Sins doesn’t just end with confession. It continues, “God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven all your sins.” Your sins of jealousy. Your sins of pride. They are forgiven. “By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, he has removed your guilt forever.” The guilt for sinning against God– has been removed. You are his own dear child – though you don’t deserve it, you are!
It’s about humility NOT jealousy!
Here’s the thing. As deeply humiliating as that was for Jesus, it resulted in glory. Because in spite of the humiliation of false accusations, false blame for sins he didn’t do, and a horrifying death -- was – he defeated it. Three days later, he came out of the grave, alive and well. Free from accusation. He humiliated sin. He humiliated death. He humiliated the devil!
He promises that through faith in him – so will you!
This past week – a tragedy happened in Oregon. Maybe you’ve seen the news. A gunman went into a community college and shot students and teachers.
Accounts from those who survived have been leaked. Did you hear about them? The gunmen approached students. He aimed the gun at their head. He mockingly said, “Are you a Christian? If so, you’ll see God in a minute?”
She said, “Yes.” The gunman shot her. I’m sure he smirked. In his own twisted mind, he thought he had brought Christians down a peg or two.
But it didn’t end as the gunman thought. Because these young men and women weren’t humbled. Their end was not lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
They are in heaven. Through faith in their Savior, God exalted them to his right hand as forgiven, loved, children of God!
Brothers and sister, may God grant us deep humility! A vibrant, believing faith in Him. Amen.
“Away in my mansion – HD TV on the wall next to my bed.”
“Oh come all mall shoppers – I know where the best deals are”
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire--aren’t you glad I made them, I’m a good cook.”
“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas…you get to spend time with me.”
That’s not exactly how those holiday classics go, is it?
Yet it is so easy for that to be our mindset over Christmas. For Christmas, to be all about me. Today God’s Word teaches us to do something to combat that. It’s our second must do this Christmas. Today God’s Word tells us to “Be Humble.”
Before we head into God’s Word, let’s discuss six Pride Pitfalls to watch out for this Christmas:
1) Best Decorator. Ornaments, lights, those glass house sets that you put on your counter with cotton balls spread throughout the village to create the perfect Christmas scene are all nice. It’s fine to decorate to remember Jesus and have fun. But when your Christmas decorating becomes all about “I can’t wait to hear people compliment how good my house looks,” and "I can’t wait to hear my next door neighbors complain that my house looks so much better than theirs." There’s a problem. Your head might explode like a broken Christmas light. Watch out for the pride pitfall.
2) Top Chef. Gingerbread man. Pfeffernuts. The little pretzels dipped in white chocolate that have green and red M&Ms attached to them to look like wreaths. If you make them because you like them, fine. If you make them because your kids like them, fine. If you make them because you like the way that people say they like them, there’s a problem. Watch out for the pride pitfall!
3) Maximum Deal Getter. Clippin Coupons, getting up early in the morning, beating the crowds to the door is hard work. And that work should not go unappreciated, right? So, if this is you, you “forget” to take the final price tag off of that cashmere sweater. More exciting than watching someone open your gift is getting to tell them, “I got it ½ off and barely spent any money on you.” Watch out for the pride pitfall.
4) Top Family Member. It’s kind of a combo of all the rest. This kind of pride wants to be the best gift giver in the family. It’s his goal that everyone wishes that "She had my name for Christmas.” They’re the life of the party and bring the best cookies. This pride doesn’t just want to hang out with family; it wants family to hang out with them! Watch out for the pride pitfall!
5) Grinchiest. Sounds strange. But don’t kid yourself. This is a thing. If you aren’t good at any of the other Christmas activities, you might take pride in the fact that you don’t participate in secular Christmas. You say things like “I don’t shop for Christmas that’s too commercial.” “I don’t make cookies, it’s too gluttonous.” “I don’t worry about presents, it’s too greedy.” But you say these things, not because you believe, but because you like to see people look at you with that “Wow, I’m impressed with how well you have Christmas figured out” look on their face. Watch out for the pride pitfall!
6) Most Religious. This doesn’t sound bad does it? You always have Jesus on your Christmas cards. You make other parents know that you don’t do Santa Claus. You make sure you are in attendance for every single church Christmas event. But…if you do these things, not to focus on your Savior, but to focus on how awesome you are at focusing on your Savior - you’re in danger. Watch out for the pride pitfall!
As Christmas approaches, pride pitfalls are everywhere. This was true even as the first Christmas approached. There is no better example of this than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here’s her story:
Mary was a young girl. 16-17 years old. She was engaged. I imagine she was doing what many other brides do when they are engaged, constantly thinking about he wedding day. Considering what kind of flowers to get, what style of music to play, and whether to serve Chicken Cordon Bleu or Prime Rib.
Then, Scripture tells us that her plans were totally changed. An angel came to her. The same angel that we met last week named Gabriel. He said to her, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 The angel “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Mary asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…For no word from God will ever fail.”
Think about what the angel is telling her. This is amazing news. Incredible. It’s news that have caused many to have a false perception of Mary. It’s news that could have easily led Mary herself into a false perception of herself—a pride pitfall. Think about three big things the angel was telling her:
1) “You are highly favored.”
Mary could have easily made that all about her. She could have turned into a teenage Mean Girl. “I earned it! I earned it! I am better than all those girls who couldn’t wait until marriage to have sex. And I’m even better than all those girls who waited just like me. I must have earned God’s favor with my lifestyle.”
She may have even taken the Catholic church’s approach to her and assumed, “I must be holy. I must be the only holy, sinless human being on the face of the earth! God must be thankful for me!”
2) “The power of the Most high will overshadow you.”
This is something that not just anyone gets promised. Mary could have thought, "There's something innate in me to be able to handle this. I must be The One. I must be a special level of godly to be given such a job. And with God's power on my side, I’ll yield it like a magic wand. I’ll get all of my wedding preparations done just how I want. I’ll get the perfect iced swan at the entrance to the reception. I’ll go ahead and use God’s power to wish myself a million dollar dream home on the Galilean Seaside!”
3) “The Holy One to be born will be the Son of God.”
Remember Mary's a teenager. Perhaps the teenage girl gossip was giggly and excited when "I heard that rich tax collector was looking for a wife. And I think the Rabbi's dreamy son was trying to get my attention the other day. How wonderful it would be to get selected by one of these finer men in society."
Mary? She was chosen by God. To have the special privilege to bear his one and only Son.
Wouldn’t it be easy to get a big head from that news?
But Mary’s reaction is much different.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
How? How do you think Mary kept such a humble approach to these incredible words? Listen again to God’s Word. Because the truths that kept Mary humble are what will keep you humble too:
1. Favor Came from God.
Rather than focusing on the fact that she had received favor and making it into something that she earned, Mary must have focused on where that favor came from in the first place. It came from God.
Take a look at how she reacts when she first sees the angel. She’s troubled. “What could he—a messenger of God – have to say to her—a young girl? Was he here to bring news against her? Did the angel know her lust for Joseph before they were married? Did the angel know her greedy desire for a bigger home? Did the angel know her fear that maybe God wouldn’t be able to provide for her through this lowly carpenter?”
Throughout her reaction, you can see her humility. She’s frightened at the sign of the angel. She knows she is nothing compared to God. She’s knows she is a sinner.
This is why she’s so thankful for this favor from God.
It’s like opening up a present, finding a nice charm bracelet and saying, “Thank you. You didn’t have to.” That’s how it should be because whoever gave it to you, didn’t have to. You didn’t earn a gift. You can’t earn a gift. That’s what makes it a gift! If you said, “You should have done this long ago, I earned it,” you’ve got the wrong attitude about the gift.
God didn’t have to grant Mary favor and he didn’t have to grant us favor either. He didn’t have to send his Son. He didn’t have to make his Son the Savior. He didn’t have to live a perfect life amidst the sadness of this world. He didn’t have to suffer terrible physical pain at the hands of men. He didn’t have to die!
But God did it anyway. He bestowed his favor on you. He bestowed his son. He grants you forgiveness, peace, and love because of his forgiveness, peace, and love!
2. Jesus = He Saves!
The second truth is in the name of our own Son. His name was to be Jesus. Jesus literally means “He saves.” As Mary realizes just what this angel was saying to her, she would have realized just who this Jesus was. Her own Savior. Jesus doesn’t mean “Savior of everyone else besides Mary,” it means “Savior.” Savior of all who believe in him.
Don’t let Christmas pride fall in the way of trusting this Savior. Ignore the urge to think, “I don’t need a Savior. I’m pretty good at celebrating Christmas. I’m giving away lots of presents. God will be proud of me for all my good deeds and he’ll let me into heaven based on those too.”
If you believe that, you’re falling into the pit of pride! A pit that eventually turns into an eternal pit.
Trust in Jesus. He’s your Savior too. The Christmas drunkenness, the petty squabble with relatives, the selfishness, the greed for more presents, and lusts for coworkers of the opposite or same sex, these are all sins! You struggle to stop them. You can’t escape the guilt they bring. You can’t escape the eternal death it brings.
You need a Savior. And you have one. It’s Mary’s son. It’s God’s Son. It’s Jesus. It’s “He Saves.”
3. This Event was All God.
As Scripture says, “The power of the Most high will overshadow you and the Holy Spirit would come upon you.” Remember: Mary was a virgin. She hadn’t slept with anyone, ever. It was literally impossible for her to have a child – especially before the days of test tube science – which by the way, still involves two people.
Not Mary. She didn’t have to get married right then and there. She didn’t have to seduce Joseph. She didn’t have to do anything. God did it all! Jesus was her Son was all God.
4. Christmas and the Salvation that comes from it…Is All God too!
Jesus as your Savior is all God too!
Don’t think, “I’ve earned God’s love because I am better at Christmas than others or at least I don’t go overboard on the alcohol like Aunt Betty."
Forgiveness is all God! Christmas is all God! Eternal life is all God! Your stay in heaven is all God! Your peace right now is all God!
It’s all God and he did, just as God does, he accomplished your salvation for you perfectly! Just as he absolutely and completely accomplished Mary having a baby though she was a virgin – so God will completely and accomplished your salvation though you are a sinner!
May your Word to us be fulfilled O Lord!
And that’s it. The end of their conversation. After Mary says those final words, the angel leaves. Mary quietly reflects on the award God has just given to her—a poor, miserable sinner.
But she doesn’t leave sad. She leaves uplifted. Uplifted because when she humbled herself, God lifted her up. He promised her his blessing, a Savior, and his presence.
It’ll be the same with you. As soon as you stop chasing after Christmas superlatives and humble yourself before God, admitting that you too are a sinner in need of a Savior, God will lift you up. He’ll give you a new superlative – an award we all share -- Most Undeserving of God’s Grace, but Getting it Anyways.
May your Word to us be fulfilled O Lord! Amen. All God’s people say, “Amen!” AMEN!