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Sermon 12/10/06 –
Gentle and Humble – Matthew 11:29

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Gentle and Humble

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29)

Do you have a favorite Scripture? Do you have a section or verse in the Bible that speaks directly to you? Perhaps a “life verse;” a direction for all your life, especially given to you by the Holy Spirit of God? I have such a verse. Actually, I have several, but if I had to choose just one, it might be Matthew 11:28-30, which contains our Scripture for today.

For me, the astonishing statement within that Scripture is about the Lord Himself. He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Can you imagine that? He who said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), also said, “I am gentle and humble in heart,” or in another translation, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” He is “meek” – can you imagine it?

Actually, nobody really chooses to be “meek and lowly.” Do you remember how it was in school for you as a child? As you looked around at the other children, it likely never crossed your mind that “meek and lowly” or “gentle and humble” were goals to seek. On the contrary, the ones in school that seemed to be doing the best were the ones that could be considered “strong and assertive.” Early on, we “got it” that the “meek and lowly” didn’t have a chance. We had to seem to be strong, or others who seemed strong and assertive wouldn’t associate with us, and that was a great fear – secretly or openly, we wanted to be somebody; part of the “in” crowd.

Jesus took the risk of being considered an outsider, a loser; Someone who would be disliked by others. In Isaiah 53:3, it was prophesied about Him, that He “was (to be) despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face; He was despised and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3). And He did it deliberately, with a purpose: He “emptied Himself” of His attributes as God, “taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). And you and I are to “have this attitude in (ourselves) which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). He is "humble," and we are to be "humble," too.

According to Gale.com and other sites on the Internet, Booker T. Washington was born a slave in 1856. He was set free, but his family was so poor that he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines from the time he was nine. He was intelligent, curious and hoped for an education. After seven years of work, when he was 16, his parents allowed him to quit work and go to school. There was no money for him, so he walked 200 miles to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia, working as a janitor to pay for his schooling.

He became a teacher, first teaching in his home town, then at Hampton Institute, and finally he founded a college, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. He became a well-known speaker, raising funds for Tuskegee Institute and also to win support for programs that would help others.

After becoming president of Tuskegee Institute, he was stopped one day by a wealthy woman who did not recognize him. She asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. He was not busy at the moment and proceeded to do the chore for her. When he was finished, he carefully carried the logs into the house and neatly stacked them by the fireplace.

A little girl recognized him and told the wealthy lady who he was. The Lady then went to Tuskegee Institute to apologize. He replied, “It’s perfectly all right, Madam. Occasionally, I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.” She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his “meek and gracious attitude” had endeared him to her heart. Not long afterward, she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington. Was this man perfect? Not even close, just like the rest of us, but he had the humble attitude that we all need.

This intelligent, kind man was indeed gentle and humble, which is precisely the opposite of the pride that fills the hearts of so many in the world. Moses was a humble man. Words were written of him, likely included by his assistant, Joshua, and by the real Author, the Holy Spirit of God, which perfectly expressed Moses’ character. It was written that “the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Paul said of himself, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that he had been “serving the Lord with all humility” (Acts 20:19), which was not a humble statement unless it was absolutely true. And of course, Jesus was meek and humble in every way. He was, as the interesting and (if you think about it) surprising Scripture for today says, He was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

Because Jesus is that way, He is approachable. You can go to Him with your needs and He is not a critical spirit. You can TRUST Him. He isn’t going to tell on you or make fun of you. He is your best Friend; more so than you ever imagined. To be “humble,” by the way, may not be precisely the way you think about it. When you hear words like “meek and lowly in heart,” you might picture someone with slumped shoulders and a head that hangs low. It sounds unhappy, but that’s not what “humble” is all about. Humility is just being who we really are. No pretense. Jesus is exactly as He is portrayed in Scripture, and He expects that YOU will finally relax and be just who you are, as well. He IS our Friend, and the heavens rejoice when we start to become like Him.

To become humble is part of what is meant when Scripture urges us to “confess our sins” (1 John 1:8). The promise is that if we do, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you see that? – When we are open and honest with the Lord, we are not only forgiven, but our very nature is altered for the good. Like Moses and Paul and the example of Booker T. Washington, we are being changed, in thought and in deed – by saying “Yes” to the Lord and becoming who we were meant to be.

Lord, I’m tired of running and hiding; pretending to be something I am not. I confess who I really am, and I trust in You now. Let me learn Your gentleness.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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