I think one of my favorite stories is an alleged story of Muhammed Ali. Ali was travelling by plane. He had not put his seatbelt on when the attendant came by for check. She kindly asked him to put his seatbelt on.
Ali said, “Superman doesn’t need a seatbelt.”
The attendant wisely shot back, “Superman doesn’t need an airplane.”
As I observe life today—problems in our world, nation, state, city, church, Southern Baptist Convention, and families—many could be immediately solved if we were not so filled with pride.
A slice of humble pie, we call it.
I’ve eaten some slices of humble pie.
When I was in Seminary, I had written a paper that I was now going to present to the class. I had the paper open to the first page of the body waiting for the professor to signal “Go.” When he did, he said, “Steve, why don’t we begin on the title page? Read your title to us very slowly.”
I began, “An Intoduction to . . . “ And that’s when I saw it. I had left out the “r.” I was humiliated.
And then with absolutely no compassion to my dilemma, the professor said, “When one makes an error in the title, it is a foreshadowing of multiple bad things to come. You may present your paper.”
I don’t know what the opposite of “brimming with confidence” is, but that’s where I was.
In Luke 14, Luke tells us that Jesus was eating at the house of one of the leading Pharisees. It was the Sabbath. Jesus healed a man that day much to the dismay of the Pharisees and law experts. It is in this scene that we get the saying from Jesus that has become rather proverbial, “ox in the ditch.”
Then, with little else for context Jesus launched into this parable.
A Parable and Picture about Pride
Jesus observed something not becoming a disciple and seized the opportunity to relate the truth of His kingdom. Jesus first does this through a parable and then does this through an imagined scene that has to do with the parable he has just told. In the parable and the picture we get two different perspectives.
1. Pride in the form of self-serving attention—The scene in the parable would have been a familiar one. The guests would have been seated at a U shaped table. At the middle of the table would be the host. To his immediate right and left would have been seated the most honored guests. Then, in descending fashion, the rest of the guests would have been seated. How would you like to attend such a dinner where you knew your rank of importance? This seems bizarre to us. Imagine having to move when someone else of greater importance arrived.
2. Pride in the form of subjective humility—The picture that begins in verse 12 is what I might describe as false humility. False humility describes a person who uses the appearance of humility to actually advance his or her pride.
Both of these pictures and all forms of pride are never becoming of a disciple, so then we get the principle of pride.
A Principle about Pride
The principle is in verse 11. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is a principle that can be traced throughout God’s Word. Consider just two.
Proverbs 16:18 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
18 Pride comes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.
James 4:10 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Can we get God’s clear word on the matter of pride?
There are two kinds of people in this world—those who are humble and those who are about to be humbled.
The Problem with Pride
If God’s Word is so clear, why is there so much struggle with this issue?
• Pride is hard to detect in ourselves. Our pride won’t let us see our pride.
Humility will come. Humility comes in a hard fall. We will humble ourselves or we will be humbled.
The Parallel to the Gospel
This teaching mirrors perfectly the Gospel. Humility is the heart of the Gospel.
The humility of Jesus is the reason that we can be reconciled to God.
Jesus humbled Himself by taking on the form of humanity.
Our humility in receiving God’s plan for our salvation is the only response which produces reconciliation.
Our nation is in trouble if we do not humble ourselves before the Lord.
Our church is in trouble if we do not humble ourselves before the Lord.
Our Southern Baptist Convention is in trouble if we do not humble ourselves before the Lord.
We are in trouble if we do not humble ourselves before the Lord.
(This post is based on the message “Humility and the Gospel” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)