Today we are going to be be talking about coming to Jesus in humility. God wants to do a work in each and every one of our hearts and being humble is what allows Him to do that. The opposite of being humble is being prideful. Pride is not a very welcoming quality. Those who walk in pride either feel like they have got it all together and do not need God, or they think God owes them something. God speaks pretty clearly about us walking in humility throughout Scripture. Jesus is our ultimate example of walking in humility. Let’s take a look at how coming to Jesus in humility invites His presence.
I. Differentiating Friendship
James 4:1-6: What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James seems to be addressing a messy situation. People are quarreling with one another.
There is jealousy over materials things. It’s like two kids fighting over a toy.
They are not not asking God for the thing that they desire.
Even if they did ask God, they don’t get it because they are asking with the wrong motives.
God’s Spirit is within us and therefore we should be faithful to Him.
Our God is gracious generous giving God.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. In other words, God wants us to come to Him in humility and when we do He will pour out His grace on our lives.
James 4:7-10: So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James is encouraging these individuals to lay down their pride and to stop quarreling and come to God in humility.
Humble: obedient submissiveness
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Friendship with the world means friendship with the devil. Why did Lucifer fall from heaven? He fell because of pride. He wanted to be like God. A third of the angels sided with him and fell from heaven as well. Pride will keep us from God. You can’t repent from your sins if you don’t humble yourself and ask God for forgiveness.
We resist the devil by laying down our pride and submitting ourselves to God.
Come to God and He will come to us. The invitation is always they, but we need to start that process of coming and then he will come.
Keep our hearts pure through repentance. We live in a fallen world, so we are going to see unwanted things, we are going to be treated unfairly, and we will be tempted by the devil. We need God to search our hearts daily and allow Him to point out any areas that we may need to purify through repentance.
God promised us that if we humble ourselves, He will lift us up!
II. The example of the Pharisee and the tax collector
Luke 18:9-14: Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
God opposed the Pharisees because of their righteous pride. Think about all the miracles they saw Him perform but very few gave their lives to Christ. Pride will hinder us from knowing God.
Tax collectors were hated and despised by people during the time of Jesus, but this tax collector recognized the sin in his life and begged God for mercy. He humbled himself.
Jesus says it again in this text. Those who humble themselves will be exalted.
III. The example of the sinful woman
Jesus was invited to eat dinner at the house of a Pharisee. A woman who was a prostitute found out Jesus was at this house and brought an expensive bottle of perfume. She anointed Jesus with the perfume and washed his feet with her tears and her hair.
Simeon had issues with this woman touching Jesus because she was immoral. Jesus teaches about forgiveness though a story of two people who were forgiven of their debts. The one forgiven of the greater debt showed greater gratitude for being forgiven. This obviously represented the woman.
There is more to this story than forgiveness. Jesus talks to them about welcoming Him.
Luke 7:44-48: Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
They didn’t offer Jesus water to wash the dust off his feet, but she washed His feet with her tears and her hair.
They didn’t greet Him with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing his feet.
They didn’t anoint His head with oil, but she anointed His feet with an expensive rare perfume.
She welcomed Jesus’ presence into her life by humbling herself and He lifted her up by forgiving her of her sins. He gave her a new life that was free from shame!
Matthew 26:13: I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Not only did He forgive her of her sins, but we are still talking about her today. Her story is part of the Gospel message. She is teaching us a valuable lesson about coming into His presence with humility.
God wants to lift us up today, but in order for Him to do so we need to come to Him in humility. Let’s lay down any pride that will keep God from being able to do a work in our lives. Ask God to reveal any areas of sin in your life so that He can purify your heart right now. I would like to conclude with this verse:
2 Chronicles 7:14-15: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.