Humility: Being There For Your Neighbor (A Lesson in Humility)

This sermon focuses on a lesson in humility – where has our humility gone? We learn a lesson from the rich young ruler, and the Jesus’ judgement of nations

Key verse:
For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? – Matthew 25:35-37 NKJV

Introduction

You never know who you are entertaining or in the presence of.  You never know when you have entertained Christ.  This is the lesson, the moral, which we always take away when we read this passage of scripture.  (Be sure to read Matthew 25:31-46 for the full context.)  From Matthew 25:31-46, we get a picture of the judgment of the nations after Great Tribulation – note that this judgment is not the same as the final judgment that will take place at the Great White Throne.

We can learn something very important from this passage of scripture – a lesson in humility.  There is a proverb that I want to refer to – Proverb 18:12 – which says: “before destruction the heart of man is haughty (that is arrogantly superior); and before honor is humility.  This proverb fits in perfectly in what Jesus teaches in this passage of scripture when he talks about the sheep (the righteous) and the goats (the unrighteous).  You will see that the sheep were humble when compared to the goats that were more arrogantly superior in heart.  Our lesson for today is a lesson in humility – where has our humility gone?

Our humility today

Humility: modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.  Humility is not mentioned by the apostle Paul when he speaks of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, but we often consider humility to be a very important Christian characteristic.  One of the first words we use to describe Jesus Christ is how humble He was.  Why is it that we consider humility to be so important to Christians?  Jesus said (Matthew 23:12), “he who humbles himself will be exalted.” James said (James 4:6), “God resists the proud.”

Jesus told the rich young ruler (Luke 18:22) to sell all that he had and to distribute to the poor.  The rich young ruler was seeking eternal life, and he came to Jesus to see what he needed to do to gain that eternal life.  This man said that he knew the commandments and that he was keeping the commandments.  The rich young ruler must not have considered the part of the law that says, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). When Jesus advised him to sell all that he had and distribute to the poor, the rich young ruler could do nothing but walk away sad – he was unable to do what Jesus had said for him to do.  Knowing these things, having learned these lessons, the heart of man is still not filled with humility.

How do we treat each other?

We as Christians, God’s children, do not want our Lord to resist us.  We want the Lord to love us, and to be with Him in eternal life; we want what the rich young ruler wanted.  Jesus tells us (Mark 12:31), “you shall love your neighbor” – this is a commandment to Christians.  The only commandment greater than this is to love God with all of our heart (Mark 12:30).  The question must be asked, does man love his neighbor?  What does man love? Who does man love?

The longer you live, the more you get to see man’s actions, you will learn that man truly loves three things – he loves wealth, he loves power, and he loves himself.  (I want it noted that when I say man, I am talking all of mankind, so this includes women as well.)  His wealth: wealth is something man really trusts in; it’s his fortress.  You don’t ever mess with a person’s money or his wealth.  You see, you will have a fight on your hands when you mess with a man’s money and wealth!  His power:  man loves to feel in charge and in control.  When man feels his power threatened, he is willing to go to war; he is willing to kill to protect his power!

In the end, man is very selfish; man is in love with himself.  Jesus came to this world and taught that man should not love himself, but love his neighbor as he loves himself!  Have you ever thought of that lesson in that manner?  Man is willing to go to the end of the earth if he feels it will be of a profit to himself.  You see, it’s extremely hard to find somebody, that’s not family (flesh and blood) that would be willing to go to the end of the earth for you – some folks can’t even find family willing to do that.  So Jesus tells us, love those that surround you as you love yourself – this is a selfless ask of us, not a selfish ask.

So, let’s think about this for a brief moment – what do we do with our wealth and power?  Let’s really think about where our wealth and power has gotten mankind.  This world, no matter the time period of man, has seemingly always been at war.  We fight wars physically and even digitally nowadays.  Who is responsible for war?  Who is responsible for oppression? Who is responsible for the “starving children in Africa”? Who is responsible for people not being able to have a roof over their head?

We, mankind, created the rules for how our society work.  This means that we, mankind, also have the power to change how our society works but we choose to refuse to change.  Is that not amazing?  This is what we choose to do with our wealth and power – we sit on it and keep it to ourselves.  We are just like that rich young ruler; we don’t want to be there for our neighbors – we don’t want to share/give.  We treat our neighbors poorly.  We say that we love everybody, but in honesty, we don’t really love everybody and we don’t really care about everybody.  There is something wrong with this picture and we, especially Christians, must learn a lesson in humility.

We must begin to care for each other

Why is this a important lesson to learn for us Christians? Because no Christian should ever be at the forefront of a movement that throws stumbling blocks out in front of his/her neighbor.  Jesus pointed out, at this judgment of the nations, those that cared for Him when He was hungered, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and even in prison.  Those that were truly righteous did not know that when they were entertaining these people that they were also entertaining Jesus – they were simply doing what they knew to be right.

Are you there for your neighbor?  Some of us try to take this verse literally, so we make sure we’re at every charity event for the hungry and thirsty.  We try to check the boxes off our list and make sure we give clothes in the clothes drives, stop by the nursing homes and hospitals.  Jesus is not saying we should do these things specifically, but is telling us to be there for our neighbor.  You never know what kind of help somebody may need; whether it’s something like saying hello to somebody you see, or holding open a door for somebody – you never know what may be of help to somebody.  You never know when you have entertained Jesus Christ.

I don’t usually bring politics into my sermons but I have to say something about what I see going on because it troubles my spirit greatly.  I feel that it is truly a shame that people who have won votes based on saying they believe in Jesus Christ are out here acting the way they are.  They have either lost the way of Jesus Christ or they were never a part of the way.  To see people try to strip others of healthcare because it “hurts the books of America” gives me pause.

Jesus healed the sick on any given day, and He did so liberally (freely and often).  Jesus even healed on the Sabbath and this upset those that were overly righteous and arrogant in their heart.  These men were so arrogant in heart that they told Jesus, God in the flesh, that He should not and was not supposed to do such things on the Sabbath!  Their heart had blinded them to seeing the fact that Jesus was curing and helping people that were in need.

To see that our government is coming up with plans to strip organizations that were made to help those that were unable to attain food to eat also troubles my spirit a great deal.  We have the power to put food into the mouths of man, woman, boy, or girl and instead of doing so, we say no – that’s not right!  Something is not right when we decide to stop helping our neighbor, and stop helping those that are strangers.  We have been commanded to love our neighbor, not be a burden to our neighbor!  Why do we burden each other when Jesus forbid such action?

I said this last week, and I will say it again this week – we must remove that superiority spirit out of our heart.  Superiority causes man to despise others and the Christian has been charged with loving others.  We must remove arrogance out of our heart and replace both arrogance and superiority with humility.  We must get back to having a sincere sense of humility about ourselves.  Think about those that are around you and whether or not you are helping your neighbor or being a burden to your neighbor.

Don’t become so superior in your heart that you go blind to the one laying in the way and needs your help.  You don’t want to be the one that passes by the one that needs help that you can provide.  Don’t be a stumbling block to the one that’s crying out and in need of your help.  You never know when it is Jesus bearing your cross, and is laying in the way and need your help!   You never know when it is Jesus crying out for you and you was deaf to his calls.  You never know when you have acted haughty in the presence of your King.

I feel that we are in a trying time and it is a time where we certainly need to remember what Jesus would do.  We need to remember the way of the Lord, and to keep to His ways.  We need to remember to not be so prideful and pious that we look down on others.  We need to remember to not be so arrogant and so superior that we choose not to help those that are in need.

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About Pastor Leo H. McCrary II

Rev. Leo H. McCrary II

Rev. Leo H. McCrary II was licensed to preach August 12, 2012, and ordained April 28, 2013. Currently pastors at Christian Unity in Douglasville, GA and online through New Found Faith.

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