Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon Title: Down Is the New Up
- Humility is tricky, because it’s the one virtue that – as soon as you think you have it, you’ve lost it! Think of a humble person you know. Describe that person to the rest of the group.
- Pastor Trevor said that humility is: beautiful, inspiring, and persuasive. And the lack of humility is ugly. Why is the lack of humility so unattractive?
- Read Philippians 2:1-11:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What thoughts or questions come to your mind as you read this passage?
- The fact that Paul had to call for unity in the Philippian church shows that this church probably had some division going on there. What do you notice from this passage about what might have been causing disunity in that church?
- Underline the words “selfish ambition” in Philippians 2:3. Ambition can be a good thing, but when combined with selfishness, it becomes toxic. Describe a situation where you have seen the dangers of selfish ambition.
- James 3:16 says: “Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
How does “envy” make it even more challenging to avoid selfishness?
- Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:11-12 about what makes a person great:
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
What do you notice here about what Jesus thinks about greatness?
- A key principle of Scripture is that God humbles people who exalt themselves. What thoughts come to your mind when you hear this?
- Humility is not just thinking less of yourself. That’s humiliation. Humility is moving away from being self-centered toward being other-centered. John Dickson in his book Humilitas writes: “Humility is the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself. More simply, you could say the humble person is marked by a willingness to hold power in service of others.”
What do you think about what John Dickson said? How could you live that out in your current life situation?
- List some ways Jesus humbled Himself. What humble choices did Jesus make? What motivated Him to make those choices?
- In our relationships with others, we can choose to lift ourselves up, or we can choose to use our position, influence, resources and energy to lift up others. Describe a time when someone used their position and advantages to lift you up. How did that feel?
- What is the difference between confidence and arrogance? Or worded another way – What is the difference between lack of confidence and humility?
- Sometimes our culture almost seems to look up to people who are arrogant and selfish. What causes that?
- How would it change our world if Christians began to live with more of the godly humility that Jesus displayed, as described in Philippians 2?