GPS (grow|pray|serve) from Sunday, September 23, 2018
In response to Sunday’s message, “More Like Jesus: Humility,” read Luke 18:9-14.
Questions for GROWTH …
1. The Pharisees were an influential religious sect in Judaism during the time of Jesus. They were strict observers of the law and proud of it. (Pharisee comes from a Hebrew word meaning “separated.”) Yet they lacked authenticity or credibility because of their self-righteous claims to moral and spiritual superiority. Here’s what Jesus had to say about them in Matthew 23:
“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’” (Matthew 23:2-7 NLT).
Their walk didn’t match their talk. Where do you see or experience examples of arrogance and hypocrisy today?
2. Jesus again chooses an unlikely person to be the “hero” in one of his parables. Why do you think he would make such a controversial choice in making a tax collector an example of humility?
3. The contrast between the two men and the prayers they pray in this parable is stark. The religious man seems to be proud that he’s not like other people; he also fasts twice a week and gives 10% of his income to God. The other guy definitely feels the weight of his sin; he keeps his distance from God, can’t look up when he prays and laments the sorry state of his soul. Who do you most identify with this story and why?
4. The scriptures in one form or another make it clear that God opposes the proud but favors the humble (James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34, Luke 1:52, Luke 18:14, 1 Peter 5:5). Why is pride so offensive to God?
5. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth could not have been more humble (as Ashley reminded the children). Paul in Philippians 2 instructs the Philippians to make humble choices in how they relate to one another. His rationale is the humility of Jesus. Open your Bible and read aloud from Philippians 2:1-11. How did Jesus CHOOSE humility.
5. Pastor Greg pointed out that for all of us humility begins with a choice, which results in a change of character over time. If humility is something we DO and not simply a personality trait that only a few possess, how will you CHOOSE to be humble this week in your relationships with others and with God? Be specific.
Focus for PRAYER …
1. Humble yourself in God’s presence every day this week by praying these words, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” As you humble yourself before God, ask him to also humble you.
2. The word EGO (Edging God Out) is a helpful acronym for thinking about how “self” gets in the way of an authentic, humble relationship with God. We “edge God out” whenever we…
… put something in God’s place as an object of worship
… rely on other sources for our security and sufficiency
… put others in God’s place as the source of our self-worth
… relate to God and others out of fear and not love
… neglect the disciplines of prayer, scripture reading and service
… hold more tightly to the things of this world than Jesus
Have you edged out God in your life? Another way to view the word EGO is “Exalting God Only.” Spend some time in prayer surrendering yourself to Jesus and his humble purposes for your life. Exalt him for his example of humility.
Actions for SERVICE …
1. Continue to clothe yourself with Jesus’ character this week by performing an act of kindness for someone every day. Notice in Colossians 3:12 that kindness and humility are side-by-side, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
2. Remember that personal transformation and spiritual growth occur when we CHOOSE to respond to God’s grace. If you choose humility this week in your relationships with others, how will you do it? Again, ask the Holy Spirit to show you specific ways you can “humble yourself.”
3. Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A was visiting one of their new restaurant sites that was under construction next door to Taco Bell a few years back. Rick Warren was with him. The two of them washed up before ordering Mexican food at the competition. Rick noticed that Cathy tidied up the bathroom before leaving, picking up paper towels off the floor and wiping down the counter. Warren thanked him for doing that. Cathy responded, “Rick, we teach our staff to always leave any place they are at better than it was when they found it, whether it’s our place or not.”
What humble tasks will you perform this week in order to leave a place or a person in better shape than you found them?
One thing more …
In “The Era of the Narcissist,” Aaron Kheriaty points out the self-absorption of our era:
Of all the amazing features of the medieval cathedrals, one feature stands out as very strange to the modern mind: We have no idea who designed and built them. The architects and builders did not bother to sign their names on the cornerstones. People today might ask, Why build the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres if you can’t take credit for it? No lasting fame? No immortalized human glory? We’re perplexed by the humility of these forgotten artists who labored in obscurity. Do and disappear? This is not how we roll in the America of the twenty-first century.
All this humility and anonymity began to change during the Enlightenment. For example, when Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s wrote his book Confessions in 1789 he dedicated it “to me, with the admiration I owe myself.” The book opens with these lines: “I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.”
In contrast, the 4th century Christian thinker Augustine’s Confessions (Rousseau ripped off Augustine’s title) gives all glory to God, as in his opening line from the Book of Psalms: “Great thou art, and greatly to be praised.” As much as we might admire Augustine’s humility, Rousseau’s language sounds more familiar. “To me, with the admiration I owe myself” is a dedication that would look right at home today on social media.