Wisdom Follows Humility


1 Corinthians 4:6-21                   


We all make a life choice concerning whose perspective is upside down, God’s or that of the world. The Corinthians had not chosen well as evidenced by their divisiveness. Paul has answered by contrasting the wisdom of God with that of world. Now he unmasks the motivation behind their choices.


The wisdom we follow is a pride issue

All human history and the gospel are connected to this reality (compare Gen 3:1-6 and Mt 4:3-10)

1. Paul uses confrontation, to help the Corinthians see their true selves

He asks three who – what – why questions (v7)

There is no mystery concerning the answers; all we have is from God, which takes away our reasons for boasting

But unless we know God clearly, we will not see this basic reality

Even believers drift if God’s Word does not anchor our minds

We desperately need the conviction not to go “beyond” God’s Word (v6)

Paul had “applied all these things” i.e. the truths of chapters 1-4

Paul has doggedly pressed this conviction on us – how has it impacted you?

Beware, it is not just the world that tries to draw us “beyond what is written”

There are some in the church who diminish the infallibility and authority of God’s word

Discernment matters concerning what we read and who we hear

2. Paul uses sarcasm to help the Corinthians see the foolishness of their pride

They had an exaggerated view their maturity, so in v8 Paul uses exaggeration

Then he makes comparisons in v10 using words they probably used about themselves

When we compare ourselves to others, we usually use a one-sided and distorted storyline

3. Paul uses his own example of humbly resting in Christ

Paul is no longer using hyperbole, this is how he lived!

He is uplifting the seemingly ‘upside down’ biblical perspective of humility

The world resents life that looks like (v11)

The rich and wise would have mocked Paul for demeaning himself in physical labor (v12)

People ridicule those who have a v13 lifestyle

Humility as lifestyle is upside down to a world that is self-centered

Then why would any of us want to embrace it and be content!?

It’s the way of wisdom, for it is the way of Christ (Philippians 3:8)

What is truly upside down, is the so-called wisdom of the world

If you know Christ and have his gospel, the choice of where wisdom is found should not be difficult

To help us joyfully agree with the worthiness of Christ, we need to be immersed in praise of him


Paul presents their response options

Paul has firmly “admonished” them: how will they receive it? (vs 14-17)

(1)  They can justify themselves and reject his assessment

(2)  They can be self-focused in “shame” and pull away

(3)  Or they can humble themselves and follow the example of godly wisdom

Paul offers himself as an example, because he has “applied these things”

We are all called to be disciple-makers; and part of that is being an example

You don’t need to be a perfect example, you can be a committed example

We can show that we are committed to “applying” the wisdom of God instead of our own

We can show that we take joy in the wisdom of God instead of our own

Paul has softened his tone from confrontational to fatherly

But these believers must still decide how they will respond (vs 18-21)

The wisdom of the world has influence, but it’s devoid of power

The wisdom of God consists of power, so serving his “kingdom” has power

     The wisdom of the gospel is ‘the power of God for salvation’

     The wisdom of God is power to make life whole

     The wisdom of God is power to sustain and lift you in every storm

If you are in Christ and you embrace his word, your life will have power



“Towel and Basin Christianity”


John 13:1-17

We begin a sermon series on Jesus’ Farewell Discourse (John chapters 13-16). This is Jesus’ last time with disciples before his crucifixion and the content reflects it

The context of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is what he knew (vs 1-3)

v1 He knew the events of his crucifixion were at hand

v3 Jesus knew this was to fulfill the eternal plan of the Father

v1 Adds Jesus “loved” his own “to the end” (this was also what Jesus knew)


Jesus’ begins his farewell by washing the disciple’s feet

Notice the pacing of John’s description (vs 4-5)

He deliberately draws out his description so we can imagine it

Extraordinary humility dominates this scene

Culturally this was a demeaning job

Jesus’ entire life and ministry were drenched in the theme of humility

Jesus wants his humility to be an unforgettable lesson to those who follow him

Extraordinary love is abounding in this scene

Jesus’ motivation in what he does is his “love to the end”

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his commands to us

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his sovereignty over our circumstances


The disciple’s discomfort is finally voiced by Peter (vs 6-11)

Peter is sure in his perspective, yet he was not only wrong, he was opposing Jesus

Jesus tells Peter in v7 that he will “understand later”; yet Peter persists in his opinion

Jesus’ correction deepens our understanding of what is taking place

v8  If I don’t wash you – you have “no share” (i.e. no inheritance, or salvation)

The foot washing points to the cross; it is a lesson about Jesus as much as one from him

v10  Jesus tells Peter, once his feet are bathed, that’s enough, he doesn’t need to be “washed”

Once cleansed by Christ, we don’t need a full washing again, we are justified forever


Our takeaway is Jesus’ example (vs 12-17)

Jesus asked if they understood (we need to follow thoughtfully) 

He points out in v13 they know he is their teacher and Lord

They believed he was the Christ – the Son of God

The thought of the Almighty Lord from heaven washing feet is staggering

Then Jesus reminds us v16 ‘a servant not greater than his master’

Jesus is clear and our obligation is unnegotiable

To be followers of Christ, we must live as Towel and Basin Christians

This is not an action for certain circumstances; it is how we are to live

Washing the disciple’s feet was a display of how Jesus conducted his earthly ministry

His example is meant to be our life perspective


How do we live with a Towel and Basin perspective?

1.  We start by laying aside our rights and our offenses

Jesus laid aside his privilege as he “laid aside” his outer garment

We will not serve like Jesus if we are on the lookout for our rights

We need to stay watchful that how we serve doesn’t fill up with our expectations

Jesus was even willing to wash the feet of Judas who was about to betray him

When we take offense, we may keep the actions of serving, but we  have lost the heart of it

2.  Willingness to serve comes from what we “know”  (vs 1-3)

(1) We know about the cross:  gospel-centered people are servant-hearted people

(2) We know all things come from God and return to him

Towel and Basin Living doesn’t mean we no long desire good things for ourselves, it means we know that we already have them!  

(3) We know that we are loved perfectly to the end

So we don’t need to assert or prove ourselves, and we can be content with what the world thinks are “lesser” roles

3.  Towel and Basin Living is an expression of Great Commandment Living

We abandon our “me first” perspective, because we are overwhelmed and in awe of God

We then see people with fresh eyes:  they are who Jesus came for – and died for

Slow down for people, listen, and show care instead of trying to “fix them” so we can move on

4.  To live consistent Towel and Basin Christianity, we have to take it home

Husbands have a role, and parents have a role; but it is not to be lords in our home

A Christian home has the atmosphere and expectation that we serve one another


Towel and Basin Living may not be natural, but it is good and Christ-like

As in all that we seek to do and be for Christ – it grows prayerfully


“Gospel mission needs gospel unity”


Philippians 2:1-4

Chapter 1ends with Paul declaring the gospel of Christ is worthy of our unity in the face of opposition. In chapter 2, he adds the gospel is worthy of being guarded against disunity within church


Paul gives 4 reasons why unity should rule in us (v1)

1.  All believers are in Christ

Our common salvation and bond in Christ should encourage us toward fellow-believers

2.  All believers know love (Great Commandment living is all about love)

3.  All believers have the Holy Spirit – who works to bind us in community

4.  All believers have new character – which draws us to what is God pleasing

Any of these is sufficient reason for unity, together they are overwhelming!

How influential are these reasons to you?

If we don’t see one another (or ourselves) by these truths, are they true of us?


Gospel unity drives us to gospel mission (v2)

Paul has gospel mission in view (he uses the same language as the previous verses) 1:27

(1) Gospel unity gives us “the same mind”: that the gospel is everyone’s great need

(2) Gospel unity gives us the “same love”: our hearts value Christ above all

(3) Gospel unity brings us into “full accord”: we labor for the same purpose

It is important to recognize that biblical unity is gospel unity

Questions of church unity are often misapplied

Some too easily create disunity out of differences in secondary doctrine and practice

Others go the opposite way and claim unity is sacred regardless of belief

Some want peace at any price; rather than deal with heart issues, they sweep disagreement under the carpet

Disagreement among believers will happen

Sometimes it’s for reasons that are important for truth and godliness

However, as believers, we can have disagreement without disharmony (Romans 14-15) 15:1

The gospel is wonderful enough and powerful enough to keep us in unity

v1 the gospel is powerful enough

v2 the gospel is wonderful enough

With our common reality in the gospel, the Church should not allow anything to keep us from our common gospel mission


To have this unity we must eliminate what hinders it (vs 3-4)

Pride and selfishness are the great hindrances to unity (and godliness)

We see these at the root of sin and conflict throughout the Bible and life

Pride and selfishness relentlessly seek to erode what God wants to do

Our pride may not openly reject God, but it distorts how we serve him

Without humility, the gospel is not possible

It was necessary for Jesus leave heaven, stay on earth, and die in our place (vs 5-8)

Jesus’ every moment on earth required him to exercise humility

For us to receive the gospel, our hearts had to be humbled

If the gospel is to rule over our lives, we must embrace humility

So, how can the Church clearly go forth in the gospel without humility? This is why v3 so emphatic!

Humility frees from the bondage of pride and selfishness

Think of your experience with people: those who are extremely selfish are in bondage to it and they are miserable!

Our weaknesses and limitations are not in the way of gospel mission, it is our pride and selfishness that distract us, and muck up our lives

Where is selfishness and pride getting in your way?

Do you become offended, rather than look for people’s true intention

Do you pull away, rather than seeking to care for people’s weaknesses

Do you want members to meet your expectations, rather than look how to serve them

Are you going through life in self-pity and disappointment, rather than encourage others with gospel truth




Pride is a big fat liar!

 Although pride lies to us in many ways, it chiefly tries to convince us that life will be better right now if we will focus on ourselves or assert ourselves.

Bethany Jenkins leads us in the opposite direction in this article, “There’s Nothing More Relaxing Than Humility”.

Pause to think about the way pride takes up enormous amounts of space in our minds, action and emotions. It continually pushes us to grab and fight for self. Think about how exhausting all this can be. Everything from how we react on the highway to how we interpret people’s comments, all become draining exercises when pride is leading us.

Pride disturbs the rest we crave.

Pride does this by sending us running in the opposite direction from where God is moving. That means when pride rules over our lives, we are depending on our own strength and wisdom rather than resting in Christ! Taking what pride wants us to cling to and casting it upon Christ is rest, because we know he will handle it all far better than we can.

It may take a while to get used to this mindset, but try thinking about how this potentially frustrating moment will be much more relaxing, if we simply turning it over to Christ and let his agenda rule our life instead of that no-good-liar named pride.




Jesus rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:4-5, 12-17)

This is a simple, clear and powerful picture that Jesus has given us.

Washing a guest’s feet was the mark of a gracious host. It was meant to serve the guest who had been walking dusty roads wearing a sandals.

The job of washing feet was left to whichever servant had the lowest rank in the house.

Jesus example for us is not to go out and find someone’s feet to wash. It is to place ourselves in the role of a servant who is willing to humble ourselves to care for the needs of someone else.

How can you serve the people you will interact with today?

What unimpressive, yet helpful task of care can you bow your heart to perform?

Are you willing to go through today wearing a servant’s towel?

Next time you are tempted to resist the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to serve someone, picture our Lord Jesus on his knees, before a basin of dirty water as he carefully washes a long row of feet.

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”




Pride leads me to be at the center of my world

My impatience

Taking offense

Wanting to be first

Neglect of my devotional life – “I’ll be okay”

Pursuing my agenda

Talking over people

Take the nicer choice for myself

Doing what I want on family vacation

Focusing on how people like my preaching and my decisions

Day dreaming of my successes

Resisting the confession of my sin

      Pride is whenever first thought is how something affects me

Humility leads us to accept God’s assessments in everything

Whether it is His ways, decisions and timing

Or our weakness, need and depravity

Humility comes from seeing:

By nature we are creatures

By rebellion we are sinners

By grace we are now saints

Our negative view of humility distorts our understanding of it

Humility is not self-abasement; that is more self-centeredness

Humility is not weakness; it opens the door to strength and wisdom

Humility is not discouragement; it lifts our thoughts and our lives – because it keeps us immersed in the agenda of our glorious God

Asking if we are serious about confronting our pride, is the same as asking; “Are we serious about God?”

If you don’t think you have a pride problem, it is serious problem

Denial indicates we are not seriously examining ourselves

You may not be arrogant with people, but how submissive are you to God?

The question is not ‘Do I have pride?’, but ‘Where is my pride lurking?’

We have to work diligently at cultivating humility

Pray consistently that God will reveal where our pride lurks – then be ruthless in rooting it out

Replace thoughts of ourselves with thoughts of God. We will find great delight when God dominates our thoughts


God uses strong language when discussing humility and pride

Psalm 138:6   “Lord regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar”

Luke 1:52  “Lord has brought down the mighty and exalted the humble”

James 4:6   “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”

Why is God intensely “opposed” to pride?

Pride relentlessly seeks to erode His Lordship and His glory

Pride led to Satan’s rebellion   Isaiah 14:12-14

Pride led to Adam and Eve’s rebellion   Genesis 3:1-6

Pride is at the heart of mankind’s resistance to God   Romans 1:21-25

Pride may not overtly reject God, but it always distorts our position and His

Since pride is self-centered, it opens the door to virtual every other sin

Why is humility so pleasing to God?

Humility is an unrestrained desire for God to fulfill His role in everything

Humility leads us to listen to God and learn from Him  Psalm 25:9

Humility is how Christ stepped forward to save us  Philippians 2:8

Humility causes God to show mercy  2 Kings 22:19

Humility is to see ourselves and God in a true perspective.

CJ Mahaney wrote,

“Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness”

Humility removes the biggest obstacle to God working freely in us

We should share God’s strong opinions on pride and humility

Our pride is groundless  Isaiah 40:6-8

Our pride is corrosive  Habakkuk 2:4

Our pride is illogical  Acts 17:28

Our pride is foolish  James 4:6

Humility embraces reality, so God embraces the humble

God says He  “blesses” . . “exalts . . and “gives grace” to the humble

The more humility fills our heart and mind, the more we can have an unobstructed relationship with God

How do we grow in humility?

Start at the cross – and stay there!

John Stott wrote,

“The cross undermines our self-righteousness, and we can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit.”


 The time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:6-7

Jesus’ birth was Humble

His parents were simple people

His birth took place in a stable (imagine your child or grandchild being born in such a setting)

His first bed was a feed trough for cattle  

His first visitors were shepherds

He was raised to be a village carpenter

God was painting a portrait of humility to remind us that the transcendent God greatly condescended to be with us   

The humility of Jesus birth emphasizes God’s commitment to us. We see how greatly the wondrous God desires to have communion with us. God who is glorious beyond imagination or description, did not hesitate to be humbled in order to gain us for Himself

Jesus humility leaves us with no moral ground to resist humility ourselves. We don’t like to humble ourselves or to be humbled, yet, how else can we be like Jesus?

Jesus made humility an honorable position for us to hold



Jesus’ birth was Obscure   

They found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:16

Despite the dramatic scenes with the Magi and Angels, Jesus birth was obscure as far as the rest of Israel and the entire world was concerned

Kings did not invite Jesus to court

Holidays were not named in his honor

No public record or proclamation was made about his birth

The rich and famous do not come to support his cause

Jesus’ work had nothing to do with earthly powers, kingdoms or influence

The gospel did not come to us through the effort of earthly powers; the gospel was entirely what Jesus accomplished for us

Earthly powers never have been and never will be our hope or resting place

The gospel may use some who are famous and powerful – but it does not need them

And if you are weak and frail – God can just as easily (and even more gladly) use you!

For the gospel and our confidence is all and only about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!


My “Sermon Leftovers” began 4 years ago during my first week of blogging

It was Thanksgiving weekend which inspired the title of Leftovers

Since I don’t have leftovers today and it is near Thanksgiving, I will give you my original Leftovers article

Sometimes leftovers just taste better

In soups and stews the ingredients need that extra time for their flavors to fully meld; and Thanksgiving is famous for providing satisfying leftovers.

A fresh snow flake roll piled with cold turkey, stuffing, hot gravy and some cranberry sauce seems to taste even better than when those favorites first appeared on our plates the day before.

Could it be possible that Sermon Leftovers are also better the next day??

On Mondays I will be offering a modest portion of those leftovers. Having heard a sermon once already, we are ready to feast on those biblical truths once again, as the Holy Spirit sharpens our appetite to apply them in our life.

Since we are in the midst of a series, I will give a small portion from each of the three messages:

“God Has An Opinion About Pride and Humility”

James 4:6

Pride relentlessly seeks to erode God’s glory and His Lordship.

Pride is always seeking to make us the center of our world.

Pride opens the door to virtually every other sin.

Our pride is groundless – illogical – corrosive and foolish.

Humility is an unrestrained desire to have God fulfill His role in everything.

Humility leads us to embrace God’s assessment in all areas of our life.

The humble can have an unobstructed relationship with God.

If we don’t think we have a pride problem, it is a serious problem, because we are not seriously examining our heart.

Are we willing to ask God if He would reveal where pride is lurking in us?

“Christ Is Our Example For Humility”

Philippians 2:3-8

Amidst the glories of heaven, the eternal Son of God exercised inexpressible humility to become a man. The events of Jesus’ birth underlined the humility of his incarnation.

Jesus’ earthly labors required him to exercise humility every moment. No one he met ever had the zeal and faithfulness he possessed.

In his death, Jesus embraced wrath he did not deserve, to give us a grace we did not deserve. The events of Jesus’ death underlined the humility his sacrifice required.

Without the deep humility of Christ, our salvation would not be possible!

For Jesus who deserved glory, every expression of humility was extreme.

We cannot follow Christ very far without humility.

If we are to imitate Christ, we must exercise humility in our relationships with each other.

Jesus’ example makes our lack of humility toward others – indefensible.

What role does humility have in our relationships?

“The Gospel Is Our Path to Humility”

Ephesians 2:4-10

Our experience tells us that fighting pride is a constant battle. How we grow in humility needs to be as persistent as our pride. What is more persistent than our pride? The truths of the gospel!

The gospel is the antidote for pride, and it is the sure path to humility.

The gospel is not just for those who need to be saved, the gospel is the foundation for all Christian living.

To grow in humility we must stay on the path of gospel truths.

The gospel saves us from pride, by saving us from ourselves.

The gospel keeps us from the pride of self-focus.

The gospel will always point us to God . . to reality . . and to humility.

Be a worshipper: it is hard to exalt ourselves when we are exalting God.