Virtue #5: Humility – Luke 14:7-11

Posted by: cghearn | 08/03/2014 | 12:00 pm

How Do I Live Humbly?

The first thing that I need to do is define what humility is.  Humility is “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.”  At first when I read that definition, I didn’t like it, but after thinking about it, this definition is exactly what humility is.

Illustration: Story of going to Dunamis conference and getting to sit next to Wayne Grudem when I tried to sit at another table.

The opposite of humility is pride and pride is defined as, “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority.”  Saint Augustine of Hippo said that “Pride is the mother of all sin.”  He meant by this that pride can lead us to do things that we’d never think of doing otherwise because it gives us an unrealistically high perspective of ourselves.

Illustration: Running stop sign in my neighborhood and my neighbor correcting me because he was concerned about MY kids getting run over.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to be humble because humility demands that we look to the lowest place to stand.  Humility is all about understanding your position in life and giving glory to God in that area.  Humility says, “Thank you God for what you have given” but pride says, “God, you owe me more.”  Humility is the Prodigal son who returns to the Father expecting to be his servant; pride is the son who has served expecting that he would be glorified above all others.  The Pharisee loves the place of honor whereas the true believer is simply content that he is even able to wait on those at the Lord’s Table.

–Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.”

Doctrine of sermon: By trying to gain honor for ourselves, we are humbled; by being humble, we gain honor.

How Do I Live Humbly?

Don’t be proud or you may come to know shame

The first part of this parable that Jesus tells is about the guest who wishes to be given honor before others.  This particular individual that Christ would be speaking about would be one that would be considered proud.  The root of pride comes down to one thought and that thought is “I deserve…”  This one thought leads to expectation that are not true and has caused divorces, splits in friendships, and even wars.

Haven’t you ever done something out of pride and it caused great shame?  Shame may be one of the most horrible feelings that one can ever feel.

When we look to the story of Christ, we can see two great stories of shame happening simultaneously; we must simply look to the story of Judas and compare it to the story of Peter.

How then, does Christ deal with the shame of those who come to Him?  Once again, we look to the story of Peter.

Turn to John 21:15-19

Redemption: The path of redemption requires of us that we confront our shame, but leads us to better relationships both with God and others…

How Do I Live Humbly?

Having humility alters the perception of how others view us

In this passage, in verse 9 and 10 differ greatly from one another in how the command was given.  The first command is given in a curt manner, whereas the second is given in a friendly manner.  Humility tends to draw people in whereas pride pushes them away.

There is great joy in being humble before others because you never feel like you have to prove anything.  You know that you’re going to the lowest place first and therefore, pride is not even a thought in your mind.

The worm is not ashamed of the dirt because it’s a worm, a toad has no shame in its warts because it’s a toad, shoes should not be worn as gloves, and a hat makes for uncomfortable underwear. 

One thing that delivers us from shame is knowing who we are and what our virtues are.  Virtue was understood by the philosopher Aristotle as “any particular excellence” and therefore, virtue is found in that which we excel at and in the same way accepting whom God has made us to be.

Pride looks at a bird flying through the air and imagines itself to be just as high; humility is when that same bird defecates and it hits pride reminding him that he is still lower than he thought.  Just because you don’t have wings doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Redemption: Being humble means you’ll probably have more friends than you do enemies; it also means you’ll have more honor than shame…

How Do I Live Humbly?

Having humility before others gains rewards both in this life and in the one to come

The word that Jesus uses here is “ταπεινόω” for “humble.”  It literally means, “to depress” or to “make one’s heart small.”  Jesus then uses the word, “ὑψόω” meaning to “lift up.”  Jesus is saying here if you depress or lower yourself, then others will lift you up.  He’s contrasting them with one another.  The other thing that needs to be pointed out is how Christ is motivating his listeners to be humble; he’s recognizing that his listeners actually desire to be honored, not humbled.

All of us in this room have a desire to be honored or on some level or another to get credit where credit is due.  Christ doesn’t condemn this as sin; rather he harnesses it in order to motivate his audience to live in a humble manner.  I’m not sure if being genuinely humble actually exists.

ILLUSTRATION: I used to work for a company here in town that cleaned up insurance losses meaning that there were times where I had to go to people’s houses that had sewage overflow into their basements.  There were those who cleaned up the sewage and then there were those who showed up to watch us do our job, tell us we were doing well, and then went back to their nice air-conditioned offices and wrote up reports.  WHICH ONE WOULD YOU PREFER?

Here’s another bit of insight, Christ didn’t want to die a humiliating death on the cross.   Don’t believe me?  Listen to Christ’s words just before his execution.

Turn to Matthew 26:39; 42

ILLUSTRATION: I think it’s silly when people ask me if I “want to” help them do something rather than just saying, “Please help me…”

Redemption: If we are trying to gain honor, we would do well to lower ourselves; for if you attempt to lift yourself up in the eyes of others, there’s a good chance that in the eyes of others you’ll actually be lowered.


Doctrine of sermon: By trying to gain honor for ourselves, we are humbled; by being humble, we gain honor.


Tennis player with angry face Diver with fear on his face. Tennis player about to get hit in face Rugby player getting hit in face with ball Soccer player getting hit in face with ball

These folks got caught in some pretty humiliating poses, but they did it because they wanted what was on the other side.

Application: What motivated Christ to the cross anyway?  Have you ever asked that?  Most people would simply respond, “Love led Christ to the cross” and while that’s true, there’s more to the story than that.

Turn to Hebrews 12:1-2

  • Drew Van Gorder

    Chris, these look so awesome! So glad that you’re in charge of doing our website updates, notes, and blogs!

    • cghearn

      It’s my pleasure, Drew.