************ Sermon on Proverbs 15:33 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on September 25, 2016

Various Readings
Proverbs 15:33
"Humility and Honor"

I want to start this sermon on humility and honor by reciting the lyrics of an old hit song:
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain,
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you?
Don't you?
Supposedly the song is about Mick Jagger. Since I am not a Mick Jagger fan, I cannot understand this.

"You're so vain." Is this a problem? Is pride and arrogance something God's people need to be warned about? It must be because Proverbs alone has 19 verses dealing with the subject of humility and honor. And then there is the verse from 1 Peter we are singing right after this sermon:
(1 Pet 5:6) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Or, as the song puts it:
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord;
And He shall lift you up,
higher and higher,
and He shall lift you up.

We need humility in the church of Jesus Christ. God wants us to be humble, like Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:
(Phil 2:1-5) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose. (3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (5) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Did you catch that in the middle? "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Instead, be like Christ.

I God Rewards Humility
A Did you know that God promises to honor humility? That's one of the messages of our text:
(Prov 15:33) The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Humility comes first; then comes honor. God rewards humility.

The entire Bible is so clear about this. Listen to a number of verses:
(Mt 23:12) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

(James 4:6) ... Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

(Mt 18:4) Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

(Ezek 21:26) this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.
Do you hear the message of the Bible? God rewards humility. Your life and my life may not look like much right now. But someday we get the honor and the glory.

B But we can say more. The Bible also makes plain that God humiliates pride. God has no use for pride. God has no use for self-exaltation.

Most of us have been created or molded by Christ to have the same attitude as God. For instance, think of a person who is full of himself and drawing attention to herself. What do you feel inside when you think of this person? Don't you want to cut him or her down to size, just a little? And when we see someone who is humble and lifting others up and doing a great job without expecting any thanks and so forth, don't we want to see her get some credit?

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mt 23:12). Pride leads to a big downfall whereas humility leads to honor.

This teaching runs counter to the wisdom of our age. The wisdom of our age says self-esteem is one of the most important things in life. Self-esteem is the secular word for pride. Forget about humility; instead, have loads of self-esteem. Do you doubt how important this concept is in today's world? Go to Amazon.com and type in "self-esteem" and you will get over 113,700 results. Wow.

This secular emphasis on self-esteem comes to expression in a host of different ways. In the classroom every student passes and no student gets an "F" because it is bad for their self-esteem. On the sporting field, out of concern for self-esteem, no one gets a trophy for winning; instead, you get a participation trophy.

Self-esteem supposedly plays a big role in the lives of those in prison. We are told that many of our prisoners lacked self-esteem which started them down the road of underachieving and ended in a life of crime. These men and women, we are told, are violent or psycho or law-breakers because they don't feel good enough about themselves. The Bible leads us to the opposite conclusion. The problem among prisoners is not a lack of self-esteem but too much self-esteem. The problem is they don't feel bad enough about themselves -- bad enough that they repent of their sin and look to the Lord Jesus.

This emphasis on self-esteem is found in most churches as well. At a Bible Study this past week I was asked why most churches and Christians buy into Baptist or Arminian theology rather than Reformed theology. The answer, I said, has to do with total depravity and original sin. Most churches and Christians do not want to believe these doctrines. They do not want to believe we are dead in our trespasses and sins. They want to believe most people are basically good and capable of saving good and choosing for Christ. "We are dead," I said. "Can we expect the dead to grab a life jacket we throw them? Of course not. Likewise we cannot expect sinful man to accept Jesus." To nail this down I read from the Canons of Dort, Article 1 of the third and fourth points of doctrine:
Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his mind with a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual, in his will and heart with righteousness, and in all his emotions with purity; indeed, the whole man was holy. [THAT IS, MAN WAS GOOD AS FIRST MADE BY GOD.]
However, rebelling against God at the devil's instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding gifts. Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in his mind; perversity, defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity in all his emotions. [THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE IS THAT SINFUL MAN HAS NO REASON FOR SELF ESTEEM.]

What does this have to do with humility and honor? Our original sin and total depravity are reasons for humility. How can you possibly be proud and arrogant knowing your sin? How can you be anything but humble once you realize the extent of your sin?

C "The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor" (Prov 15:33). It is fair to say we would rather skip the suffering and the humility and get right to the honor. Our sinful hearts are too quick to long for praise, glory and honor. Everybody wants to be the star of the football or volleyball team. Everybody wants a place on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" or the "Guinness Book of World Records." Nobody wants to be a zero or a one; we all want to be tens.

Yet, God's way is humility first and then honor.

D Here is the climax of the gospel: "those he justified, he also glorified" (Rom 8:30). Glorified not because of our own efforts. Glorified not because of our proud achievements. Glorified not because we are so smart, so wonderful, so hard working. Glorified, rather, by God as an act of His wonderful grace. It is only the grace of God that brings us glory.

II Humility and Honor in the Life of Christ
A "Your attitude," says Paul in Philippians 2, "should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). Paul then describes the attitude of Christ we are supposed to have in the next six verses:
(Phil 2:6-11) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

As we look at humility and honor there are two key words we need to look at in this passage about Christ: humbled and exalted.

Christ humbled Himself. From what? From His nature or being as God (Phil 2:6). From the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. From His position as Creator of all things visible and invisible (Col 1:15-16). From the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word (Heb 1:3).

Christ humbled Himself. We not only ask from what but also to what? To the nature of a servant, to human likeness, to appearance as a man, to obedience to death on the cross. He made Himself nothing. He emptied Himself of the glory that was His in heaven.

Christ humbled Himself. We ask not only from what and to what but also why? Why did He humble Himself? Everyone here should know the answer: so we can be saved to the glory of God the Father.

Christ humbled Himself. And, we are to have the same attitude as Christ our Savior. We are to humble ourselves. In what way? "Make me a servant." We just sang that song. All of us are to have a servant nature, a servant attitude. Instead of asking and wondering what the church will do for us, we are to ask what we can do for the church and the other members. Show humility by doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but consider others better than yourself (cf Phil 2:3). The humble person does not sing his own praises. Proverbs puts it this way:
(Prov 27:2) Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
Paul in his letter to Rome puts it this way:
(Rom 12:3) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

How does humility behave? I want to read three different texts:
(Prov 13:13) He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

(Prov 15:31) He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

(Prov 28:13) He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
The three key words are "respects," "listens," and "confesses." That is how humility behaves: it respects, listens, and confesses. God has a goal in mind: God wants us to grow. But we can't grow if we are proud, arrogant, and cocky. We can't grow if we think we know it all. We can't grow if we are not willing to learn from others. We can't grow if we look down on those around us. We can't grow if we don't respect, listen, and confess. Growth requires humility. In humility you say to God:
God, I want to grow. I want to learn. I am open to You. I am listening to You.
This kind of talk comes out of a humble spirit.

B Back to Philippians 2: the second word we need to look at when it comes to Christ is the word "exalted." Christ humbled Himself. "Therefore," writes Paul, "God exalted him." In what way? What happened? God exalted Him to the highest place -- which is at His right hand. God gave him the name that is above every name -- the name of Lord. At the name of Jesus every knee should bow. And, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jesus humbled Himself. Jesus was exalted. And, we are to have the same attitude as Christ our Savior. We don't need to exalt ourselves. We don't need to exalt ourselves because once we humble ourselves it is God Who lifts us up.

In what way are we exalted? The Scripture is full of details about this. We are given a body like Christ's perfect body. We sit down with Christ and judge even the angels. We are called children of God. We are heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.

What I want you to realize is that the pattern we see in the life of Christ we are to also see in the life of those who follow Christ: humility followed by honor.
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord;
And He shall lift you up,
higher and higher,
and He shall lift you up.

This sums up the message of the whole Bible: humility before honor, the cross before the crown.

III The Path of Pride
A I want to end by looking at the path of pride. If humility results in honor, what does pride result in?
(Prov 16:18) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
The Hebrew words translated as "pride" and "haughty" in this verse both have to do with height, with being lifted up.

The book of Daniel tells us that the Most High God -- that is His title and it fits Him -- gave King Nebuchadnezzar glory and majesty. Nebuchadnezzar's heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory (Dan 5:20).

What happened? "Pride goes before destruction," says Proverbs. The word translated as "destruction" means a breaking, like a bone being shattered.

B If you are proud and arrogant, you are headed for a fall. The trouble is, proud people don't see this about themselves. They honestly believe they are better than others. Proverbs says,
(Prov 16:2) All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
The proud person feels innocent. Pride feels normal. He trusts in his own self-analysis. He is not alarmed by what he sees. There are no warnings, no signs, no flashing red lights.

So, ultimately, what is the fall suffered by the proud? It is nothing less than eternal death. That's what happens when you depend upon yourself rather than the Lord. That's what happens when your life is based upon works rather than grace.

"The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor" (Prov 15:33). First humility, then honor. That's God's order with Christ. That's God's order for you and me.
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