The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, “Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, “prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that he was commanded to do? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ – Luke 17:5-10
In this passage we see that the disciples are desiring more faith. Jesus is a man of great faith, doing great works such as healing the sick and raising the dead. The disciples wanted the same kind of faith, so they ask Jesus to help them out: “Lord increase our faith.” But Jesus doesn’t answer with “Ok, close your eyes… whazaam!” No, He speaks into their future.
Jesus is not worried about the disciples having small faith, because even small faith can move mountains. What He is concerned about is when they begin to operate in this faith they will be puffed up in pride. So He compares them with a servant working in the field. When a servant comes back from the field, does he get patted on the back and the royal treatment because he has done his job? No, of course not. When he comes inside, he serves the master of the house, makes sure everything is in order, then he can get a bite to eat.
In the same way, the disciples would soon be out in the harvest fields of the world. They would soon be reaping large harvests of souls into the kingdom of God. They would soon be doing mighty works just like their Master had done. They will heal the sick, they will raise the dead, they will cast out demons, and more. And then, when they do all those things, Jesus wants them to realize that they aren’t doing anything special. They are simply doing what is their duty to do.
It’s called humility.
We are called to be super-human. In no way are we to be the same as the world. We are supposed to be different in every respect. Opposite really. We are called to operate supernaturally, just like the apostles of old. We are called to do great things for God and are called to be great men and women. But all this can only come if we possess one essential quality: Humility
To be humble means to have a sober opinion of yourself. It means not to think too highly of yourself and your accomplishments. It doesn’t mean to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less. Paul the apostle said it this way:
For I say, though the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one the measure of faith. – Romans 12:3
Everything that we have, we have from God. God has provided us with the raw material for anything that we could ever build in our lives, and He has also provided us with the intelligence to build it. He’s provided us with the capacity to learn and expand our minds. He provides us with food for strength, so that we can do our works. He’s put us in the geographical location that we are in, wherewith we in America are greatly blessed beyond anything that we could have done for ourselves. Yes, some of us may work harder than others to accomplish certain things. But let that person understand that he is not doing anything special. He is simply doing what is his duty to do.
We often go about life comparing ourselves to those around us. We work harder than the person who is smoking crack at the corner, so we think we are special. We think we deserve a pat on the back because we work harder than most of the other people at school or at our job. No. When you are operating at peak capacity you are pleasing God, yes, but you are pleasing Him, not because you are doing extra, but because you are doing what He commanded you do to. It doesn’t mean that you are special. It just means that others are in sin.
Do you see what I am trying to say? When we are doing what God has called us to do we will be praised by those around us. It will be tempting to get puffed up in pride, and think, “Yeah, I am kind of special, aren’t I?” No, you aren’t any more special then the next guy. You are simply doing what is your duty to do.
It’s so important that we learn to walk in humility. It is the path to success in the kingdom of God, and it is the path to greatness. Look what the Master says:
He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. – Matthew 23:11-12
The disciples talked together one day, as they were walking down the road, and they began to discuss among one another who would be the greatest (yeah, sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it?). Jesus says this to them:
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you, on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. – Luke 22:24-27
The kings and presidents and dictators of this world call themselves ‘benefactors.’ A benefactor is a person that gives to help others. They may call themselves benefactors, but are they really? No, the vast majority are power-hungry, greedy, and self-serving. The seek positions of power so they can dominate over people and use them for their own selfish gain. They seek those positions for pride’s sake, so they can be admired by other people. But Jesus said that this isn’t the way that He does it, nor should it be the way we do it. We are great, when we genuinely serve in a great way. We rule by truly putting other people ahead of ourselves.
The less you concern yourself with yourself, and rather with the needs and wants of others, the greater you will become.
Pride on the other hand, will do the exact opposite. Those that seek to serve themselves, set themselves up for destruction:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. – 1 Peter 5:5-6
The great example of this is Satan himself. Pride was the beginning of it all for him. He looked into the mirror one too many times. He saw how beautiful he was. He thought he was something special. He wanted everyone to look at him and to adore him. He wanted to be like God, but he didn’t understand that he is nothing like God. God doesn’t think about himself. God thinks about others and the praise that He receives comes as a result of thankful recipients of His grace. But Satan wanted that praise. He wanted to sit on the throne, not so he could judge the world justly as God does, but so that he could be self-serving, so he could lord it over all his subjects. He convinced a third of the angels to join his cause, but he was cast out of heaven and onto the earth. Not he awaits his judgments, seeking to destroy God’s creation by taking as many people to hell with him as he can.
Watch out for pride. God resists the proud. You don’t want God resisting you. Are you the type of person that always seems to have bad stuff happen to you? Maybe you ought to check your pride. God may be resisting you.
Pride will also turn you into a fool. I remember working as a telemarketer while I was going through school. During work our supervisor played some trivia with us. I knew none of the answers, so I stood up and said, “Why don’t you ask us a bible question? I know all about the bible!” He said, “Ok, how many animals did Moses bring on the ark?” I quickly piped up, “Seven of the clean, and two of all the rest!” “Wrong!” He answered. “Moses didn’t bring any animals on the ark, it was Noah!”
Boy, did I feel like an idiot. My pride caused me a hard fall. I learned from that lesson.
Haman was the personification of pride (See the book of Esther). Haman worked in the palace and happened to get promoted by the king. He was feeling really good about himself. The king had even commanded that all the people bow before Haman when he walked by. But on day he happened to walk by this guy named Mordecai. Mordecai wasn’t into to this whole bowing thing, especially not to a man. He would only bow to God. So he didn’t bow before Haman.
Haman got really ticked off about it, so he decided that he not only was going to kill Mordecai, but was going to kill ALL of the jewish people in the region (since Mordecai was a Jew). But little did Haman know that his pride was setting him up for a big fall, and ultimately for destruction. One day, the king was up because he couldn’t sleep. The chronicles of the kingdom was brought before him to be read and he read about a guy named Mordecai who had saved his life. “Has anything been done for this man that saved my life,” the king asked. “No, my lord.” So the king asks his servants, “Who is out in the courtyard right now?” It just so happened that Haman had walked into the courtyard for the purpose of asking the king to hang Mordecai. The servants look out the window, “Haman is!” “Bring him in!” the king said.
So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman answered the king, “ For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor! ’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken!” So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” – Esther 6: 6-11
When pride comes, then comes shame – Proverbs 11:2
Shame came to Haman, and ultimately destruction – when he was hung on the gallows that he himself had built for Mordecai.
The question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I proud?”
Do you think about yourself a lot? You are probably proud. Do you look in the mirror longer than you look in your bible? You are probably proud. Do you think about how wonderful you are and how deserving you are of good things. You are definitely proud. Do you get upset when others win and are promoted and get happy when they lose? You are proud. Do you think you are better than other people? You are proud.
It is said that Muhammad Ali was on a airplane once when a stewardess came to him and asked him to fasten his seatbelt before take-off. He responded, “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” She quickly responded, “Yeah, and superman don’t need no airplane either.”
We need to recognize that everything good that we are and that we have are only because God is so good. God wants to do so much for us, but He will not if we lift ourselves up and think too highly of ourselves. God will resist us if we are proud, but He will give grace to us if we are humble, ‘so humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”