Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL

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Servant or Celebrity?

Matthew 18:1-10



The church is people, and so it is natural that most problems in the church are between people.  And most problems involving people are the result of one of these 3 things:  miscommunication, wounded pride, or spiritual immaturity.  The first is hard to prevent totally, the second is easily dealt with, unless you are the proud one, but the latter is both difficult and simple, because it takes time and effort for us to grow up spiritually.  God is patient with us, and we should be patient with each other, but we should strive to be growing and maturing. 


To grow and mature in Christ is a multifaceted task, but a big chunk of it comes in just understanding servant hood and humility.  This chapter is a gold mine for this!


Let’s see the need for humility, the example of humility, and the cost of humility.


1.     The need for humility

v. 1          This question was spawned by an argument acc’d to Mark 9.  Can you believe the disciples would have an argument?  What was it about?  Who would get to wash the others feet?  Who would get to cook tonite?  Watch the nursery?  Drive the bus?  Clean the ancient toilets?  No, they were arguing over who would be the greatest.  Who’s top dog?


Jesus had just talked to them about the cross, and His ultimate humiliation.  It was in that context that they argued over this.  I can hear John saying, “I was the first to wake up on the mount of transfiguration!”  James says, “I spotted Moses and Elijah first!”  Peter says, “I was the one to worship first!”  Then I can hear the other disciples listening and getting really fed up, and one of them chiming in, “You guys were only invited because Jesus knew if He left you for a minute you’d backslide on Him!”


All the disciples are together, along with Jesus, and they are on their way to Capernaum.  Jesus is acting like He’s ignoring their argument.  It must’ve been something like one of those arguments that goes on in the back seat of your car sometimes.  The kids bite and nip at each other back and forth and you let it go a while and finally you snap and threaten to send them to military school.  They quiet down for a few minutes and then you hear a whispering argument start up. 


Finally, Jesus asks them what they are arguing about.  He doesn’t ask to gain the info., but to draw them into accountability.  They let Him know their question, and each starts preparing their acceptance speech when He hopefully says it is them.  “I don’t know what to say...I’m just so honored and humbled at this!”


Jesus calls a young child over to Him, picks him up in His arms, and uses that child as a great object lesson.


It matters not whether you are 6 or 60.  You only get into heaven one way, by humbling yourself.  And all of us are still little children of God, and the humility should still be there.


The disciples are struggling with selfish pride and arrogance, and need to learn a valuable lesson.  And so do we!


The need for humility...


2.     The example of humility

The example is a child.  We enter the family only by humility.  Babies don’t enter the world boasting and bragging about their rights and what they’re gonna do.  They are born dependent upon their parents for everything!

        a.     Humility impacts the family.

The disciples were in disunity because of a lack of humility.  How does Jesus respond?  He reminds them of how they got to be a disciple in the first humility.


Ill.—Fall Festival, I came in my letter jacket and t shirt, hair slicked back, popping my chewing gum, and like the Fonz, I had the attitude of ‘here I am, let the party begin!’  You can’t get saved making that kind of entrance!


When we get saved we sing Just As I Am, and Nothing in My Hand I Bring, Simply to Thy Cross I Cling.  We are humble.  So what happens to us as we get older in the Lord?  The same thing that happens to our children between the crib and that back seat of the car!


        b.     Humility impacts the fellowship.

v. 5          The ground is level at Calvary.  All are welcome.  The word ‘receive’ in this verse means to welcome.  We strive to receive all types here.  But some types are harder to requires some humility on our part.


        c.     Humility impacts our following.

v. 6          To trip up another of God’s little ones is the opposite of humility.  But a humble disciple will make a disciple out of our newer little ones.  We are to be good examples to them, and if we’re a poor example, we can expect them to go in the same direction as we do.  The same is true for parenting.  We don’t get what we want, we get what we are! 


“What kind of church would this church be, if every member were just like me?!”


Like it or lump it, we are being watched, and to be a bad example is to commit spiritual child abuse, and the punishment is severe in God’s hands!  You see, it’s bad to sin, but it’s worse to cause someone else to sin.


It’s a serious error to set a bad example in word—watch your language, jokes, gossip.  And our behavior and attitude must be kept in check as well.  When churches feud and fuss I feel sorry most of all for the little lambs who watch it all, and the devil uses such things to devastate them in their faith.  Many of us are grounded enough in our faith that we could have a big problem and leave the church, but we’d go out quickly and find another church...but not necessarily so for some who had ringside seats for the fight.  They may get out of church for good!


The need for humility, the example of humility...


3.     The cost of humility

v. 7-10     A truly humble person is willing to do whatever it takes to build others up, not tear them down.  To be a stepping stone for them, and not a stumbling block. 


Be careful little hands what you do, little feet where you go, little eyes what you see! 


You may need to cut out a person from your life.  A wrong relationship, a bad habit, an evil possession, or a sinful attitude.  Here’s a good gauge to help us know what to cut off:  “Does this move me toward Jesus, or away from Him?”  Ask that question about the one you’re dating, what you’re spending your money on, and what you are thinking about!  And if the answer is wrong, cut it off!


A truly humble person won’t mind paying a price.  Their goal is to be a servant, not a celebrity.  The spotlight isn’t what’s important.


Ill.—George Beverly Shea was offered a lucrative recording contract by the world, but turned it down because he said, it would’ve set a poor example for the kids out there.  There was nothing wrong with the music he could have sung and the money he could have made, but he didn’t just ask if anything was wrong with it, but also, ‘what’s right with it?’  Not just, what’s good, but what’s best?!


Some Christians flaunt their immaturity by saying things like, I can go wherever I want to go, it’s my right.  They need to consider that they are setting an example for others.  We may have the right to do things, but we have the responsibility to consider how it may affect others around us.


Ill.—we’ve got some of the best deacons in the world.  They aren’t a group of ‘yes men’...they speak their heart and consider all sides of things, sometimes disagree, but always come together in unity and concensus.  In other words, sometimes everyone on the board will vote yes for something and one says, in honesty, I have to vote no, and here’s why.  What do they do after that happens?  Some these days would go out and bad mouth the others, or rally support against them in pride.  Some might say, I think it’s time for me to step down and let those who agree run the show [translation—if I can’t have it my way I’m picking up my ball and going home].  But no, our guys leave that meeting in agreement, not talking about what they think or how who voted, but as a team... how ‘we’ decided.  That’s a great example to this young preacher, and to the whole church, of true humility!


Real humility is willing to abandon rights sometimes in order to not be a stumbling block but rather a stepping stone for the little ones who are all around us, watching, ready to follow!



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