“HUMBLE YET FAITHFUL” By Pastor YAU
Text: Philippians 2:1-11 September 12, 2010.
1) A man in the 18th century: Isaac Hann was a little-known pastor who served a tiny church in Loughwood, England, in the mid-18th century. At the close of his ministry, the membership of that church numbered 26 women and 7 men of which only 4 of them attended services regularly. In this age of mass media and mega- churches, who would consider this to be a successful work? In our world today, Isaac Hann would be considered one of those pastors who haven’t quite “made it.” Yet, when he died at 88, his parishioners placed a plaque on the wall of their humble meeting place that remains to this day. It reads in part: “Few ministers were so humble, yet fewer were so much admired.”
2) The man who began the century: In encouraging the first century saints in the Philippians church to be humble to each other, Paul used the life of Jesus Christ as good example of humility. Paul said, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in the nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Phil. 2:5-9)
IN THE LIFE OF ISSAC HANN:
1) He served in a humble place: Just as those 10 Christian aid workers who served the villagers in the remote and unknown mountainous area of Afghanistan and were recently murdered, Isaac Hann was willing to serve God in an unknown location. I have tried to search through Google the demographics of Loughwood, England, and was unable to locate anything of that village, location, population, etc. Many pastors love to serve in large cities where potential of growth is high, population is big, education opportunities are better, convenience and facilities are easily accessible. But Hann was willing to serve at Loughwood.
2) He served a humble congregation: How many pastors will stay at a church that has a total membership of 33 with 4 regular and faithful attendees week in and week out? In the winds of modern day church-growth, that was a dead church with no hope of growth. But Pastor Hann stayed where God called him to serve. Humble here means small, very small and few pastors will like to stay in such small place.
3) He served faithfully all his life: If Hann did not serve all his life till his death at 88, he must have stayed with that church and his people till his death. Looking at the average stay of a pastor at a church is less than 3 years in modern day America, Hann set an admirable example for all pastors on being faithful to stay with the people through the thick and the thin of the church. We don’t know if there were opportunities or calls available to him to move, but he decided to stay till the last day of his life.
4) His service was rewarded: Besides the rewards the Lord will give him in heaven, his service was highly rewarded with honor and admiration by the people. With the frequent moving around many pastors are doing these days, Pastor Hann was one of those servants God will say to them: “Come, you good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things, come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matt. 25:21)
IN THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST: (Philippians 2:6-11)
1) His self-sacrificial attitude: “He, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (2:6)As one of the Trinity of God, Jesus is God. But he gave up his dignity as God in order to become a man to save the sinners of the world. While human beings are looking for promotion and elevation, Jesus took on a willing demotion and degradation for the good of others. Giving up one’s rights and privileges for the good of others is the essence of self-sacrifice.
2) His humble appearance: “But humbled himself, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in the appearance of a man.” (2:7) Humble may mean more than one thing. It may mean the inner attitude of humility, meekness and unpretentious. It may mean nothingness, emptiness and low quality. With all the glory and honor as God, Jesus took on the form of a man and a servant, a form of being nothing, low status and value. He was born in a manger, raised in a carpentry shop, lived a life without worldly possession and died without his own garment and was buried in a tomb not of his own.
3) His excruciating death: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death---even death on a cross.” (2:8)To die by crucifixion is so excruciating in pain and shame in human history. In order to pay the debts of all sins of the world, Jesus was willing to suffer the worst of all punishments of sins of man. This sets Jesus apart from all the founders of all other religions of the world. While many of the religious founders left many good teachings of moral value, but only Jesus had paid the debts of all the sins of man once for all.
4) His glorious exaltation: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above all names. That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (2:9-11)No one needs any explanation to see the glorious result of the self- sacrificial death of Jesus Christ from this description. Without that excruciating death, there won’t be the glorious exaltation followed. There is only one thing that is free: salvation by faith for sinners. Every things else, there is a price. Jesus paid it all.
HOW TO BE HUMBLE AND FAITHFUL?
1) First, taking a back seat: In today’s world, everyone wants the front row seats, the glamour, the visible, the name and fame, the success and the recognition; but all these things will never make you a humble and faithful servant God can use for His glory. Just read, look and search for all the faithful servants who had done tremendous job for God, they were all willing to take a back seat, to be humble, to give and sacrifice, some even to death. This is true for pastors and also true for all Christians. When we care so much about what we get, we cannot be his humble and faithful servants.
2) Then, ready to pay the price: We didn’t know how many years Pastor Hann stayed and served at that church, but we know that he stayed and served until he died there. We can imagine how difficult it must be to pastor a church of 4 regular people. We may also imagine how humble his life must be with the meager support he received both material and church work. Jesus paid the ultimate price, his life, for the sins of men. He relinquished all the glory and honor of heaven to come to this sinful world. He faced ridicule, persecution and even death. In the journey to heaven, we all have to pay a price to receive the crown.
3) Be sure to remain faithful: In the Kingdom business, it is never how much you have achieved but how faithful you stay put to serve God and his church. Paul said: “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)In no time God asks anyone to be successful, glorious or famous. But in all the times, God asks that we be faithful to whatever he has entrusted us, large and small, then always be faithful.
4) Finally, ready for the reward: No faithful service to the Lord will be rendered unnoticed by God. Pastor Hann, along with all faithful servants of God, will receive crowns as reward from the Lord. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) He also received reward the admiration of his people. Jesus Christ was given the name above all names that at his name all knees shall bow and all tongues shall confess the Jesus is Lord of all in heaven, on earth and under the earth. All those rewards will be in stored in heaven waiting for us to claim. No worldly rewards may last forever. Only the spiritual rewards will be in heaven forever.
1) Be careful of distraction: In serving God and his people, there are many distractions facing us everyday. Temptations from the world, weakness from the fresh, difficulty from work and human relationship and many others may hinder or even stop us from being persistent and faithful. It is never when and how did we start, but is about when and how do we finish the race.
2) Be willing to stay humble: Both in the spirit of humility and in the humble environment, resource or support, we need to be willing to stay put and not waver or quitting. There are pastors and Christians who love glamour and fame and will move there for any reason, faithful servants will stay wherever God has given his assignment. Joining a mega-church, enjoy all the ready-made facility and resources for free without moving a finger is easy but that may not be the assignment for your faithful service to God.
3) Be focus on your life: Not all parts of your life will count to God in eternity. Only those parts God assigns to you and you faithfully lived by will count. So, you need to invite Jesus into your heart to give you direction so you won’t be left behind empty handed when you are done with the journey on earth. Ask Jesus to be your Savior today and confess your sins to him and he will forgive you. Let him direct your life to a higher ground of meaning and fulfillment.