A message for Sunday, January 2, 2022 for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH:
For the audio podcast of this message, click here.
This message marks the beginning of a New Year, and we just recently looked at the importance of taking on new beginnings. They are to take on more than just watching the ball drop when the year-end countdown starts and the typical New Year’s Resolutions, which are mostly symbolic in nature. A new beginning often requires a change of your perspective—a change in attitude—a change in behavior to become a new and better you.
Speaking of attitude as a prime example, there are moments when you are wrong about something and it would be wise to admit it openly. It’s times like this that you certainly wish that you were right, but everything points to you making a mistake (and hopefully it’s not a big one). Of course, you have a choice in this matter…you can readily acknowledge your mistake to someone, or say nothing, hide behind it and point the finger at someone or something else—in other words, play the blame game.
Hopefully, this is not a description of your attitude. If it is, you have an opportunity for experiencing a really important new beginning. As followers of Jesus, people need to see hearts and minds change as we become new creations in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is rare when a person is seen taking responsibility for his or her actions, and frankly, it’s refreshing. In order to take responsibility, you have to check your pride at the door and humble yourself.
This message of a new beginning is about the act of humility. Humility is in opposition to the desires of the flesh, and it is the doorway to living in a Christlike manner.
Humility in action is the essence of godliness and the absence of pridefulness.
Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
This is a noticeable and effective positive attitude change, and the Holy Spirit is our Change Agent.
Humility is a character trait that must be learned and developed over time. It must be learned and developed because we are not, in our own nature, capable of humility. As a child, you were only capable of communicating your basic needs and desires with dependence on your parents to care for you. As you grew up, you had to learn about right and wrong, please and thank you and how to be courteous to others. Humility is something that we continued to learn as we got older, and we are still learning to master it.
There is grace in humility…both for you when you exercise it, and for the recipient who receives it. As we learn to master acts of humility, we are to be encouraged to grow in this area as it is a godly attribute.
James 4:6 CSB
But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.
The art of mastering humility will test six key areas of your life in your quest for godliness and living a Christlike existence. These are far from being inclusive of everything but these will say a lot about who you are and your growth in Christ:
- Your honesty (trustworthiness)
- Your kindness (generosity, compassion and forgiveness)
- Your patience
- Your perseverance
- Your respect (for others, your self-respect, self-esteem)
- Your self-control (contentment, temper)
You may have picked up that these virtues are described in Colossians 3:12-13, and they describe a number of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Galatians 5:22-26 NIV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Living a life of humility requires a believer crucifying his own flesh. It is an ongoing struggle, but the Holy Spirit enables every single believer with the capability to overcome any fleshly influence or desires. By yielding to the Spirit, you will best be able to do the following:
• Rely less on your reasoning and rely more on your heart
Humility has a positive effect on your thought process. You will invariably take the approach that extends beyond your own reasoning, logic and understanding, and extend beyond the inherent barriers associated with human thoughts to those thoughts that can only come from the wisdom and knowledge of the Spirit:
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”
• Trend less towards anger and more towards peace
In order to understand the nature of peace, you need to go beyond the obvious (for example: no fighting, no yelling or screaming, a quiet room—these are all correct but you must consider the influence of Christ in your efforts of humility). Jesus Christ’s influence on you in your efforts of humility will remind you of God’s grace to you and how that grace is extended to others. When you recognize God’s grace in your life, you will readily extend that grace to others—even during those times when you have every right to be angry.
Ezra 9:7-9 CSB
7 Our guilt has been terrible from the days of our fathers until the present. Because of our iniquities we have been handed over, along with our kings and priests, to the surrounding kings, and to the sword, captivity, plundering, and open shame, as it is today. 8 But now, for a brief moment, grace has come from the LORD our God to preserve a remnant for us and give us a stake in His holy place. Even in our slavery, God has given us a little relief and light to our eyes. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us relief, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
This is especially true in areas where forgiveness is necessary. True forgiveness is not on our own strength and ability. It comes only from God Himself through the Spirit. As God has forgiven our sins through grace and granted us an eternity of fellowship with Him, we are to extend the same grace to others and put aside our anger.
1 John 3:16-22 CSB
16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?
18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. 19 This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, 20 even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things.
21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
Matthew 6:14-15 CSB
14 “For if you forgive people their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.
Don’t let your harshness that comes from an unforgiving spirit ruin your testimony before Jesus Christ and others. This is an area that is a stumbling block to many believers because they are failing to grasp the immeasurable grace that God has bestowed upon them in forgiveness for their own sin. As you grow and learn more about God and this grace, you will be less resentful, less angry, and be more ready and willing to extend grace and forgiveness to others. It’s an area that all of us need to work on, and it starts with humbling yourself before God and before others.
This also applies to how well you esteem yourself before God. Satan will trick believers into thinking that they are forever inadequate before God, when God assures us that we are made righteous before Him when we confess our sin and trust that He is true to His Word:
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 8:1-2 CSB
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
• Know that it is not about you and that it is more about Jesus
Your relationship with Jesus Christ should be far more important than those things that would keep you from living a life of humility: your ego, your reputation, your adversarial relationships, your finances or anything that has an adverse effect on your relationship with Jesus. A humble person is a godly person who is secure and content in himself, in his relationships and acknowledges a dependence on Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:5-6 NASB
5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
Philippians 4:12-13 ESV
12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
1 Peter 5:6-7 CSB
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.
Above all, humility is necessary for a person to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:38 HCSB
“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 149:4 CSB
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.
Romans 10:9-12 CSB
9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame,’ 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on Him.
James 4:7-10 ESV
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Start your New Year with a refreshing new beginning: Humble yourself before your Lord Jesus, and watch how He affirms you more and more.
Copyright © 2013, 2021 Melvin Gaines