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Evan Earwicker: Humility, James 4:5-10

August 22, 2022

Audio Recording

Humility is the most direct route to becoming like the God we believe in.

Evan Earwicker: Humility, James 4:5-10

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us. Well, good morning, everybody. It is great to be with you. I'm Evan. And one of your senior pastors and, yeah, happy summer. This is the, the last stretch I know summer goes till what end of September, but it feels like we're, we're rounding the corner here. Hope you're getting out and enjoying it while it lasts. we're in the book of James, we've been walking through a series in the book of James, very, very, to the point James is, and I've been enjoying the challenge of James's words to his church in the first century. That translates really well and accurately to our church in the 21st century. So if you have a Bible, we're gonna be in James chapter four today. If you don't have a Bible, that's okay too. It's gonna be on the screens. And speaking of screens, we wanna welcome those watching online and say hello to you from wherever you're watching and joining us from today. Well, today, James is gonna talk to us about humility, 1979 Omni magazine called the mathematician, Richard Fineman, the smartest man in the world. That was the title of the interview that they did with Richard Fineman. And when his mother Lucie heard that her son had been designated the smartest man in the world, she responded our Richie, the world's smartest, man, God help us. .

01:19 So before you get too impressed with yourself, talk to your mother, I think is the, or my case, your wife. I, I love those in our lives that are always proud of us, but never quite impressed. That is a, a good person to have around, a long time ago. I was remembering this story. Speaking of being humbled, I, I was still in high school and a church had invited me to one of their leadership retreats out in the mountains, to lead worship for them. And so I grabbed my guitar and headed out to this retreat. And I was, I was thinking, man, this is pretty cool. I mean, a church is paying my way, to lead their leaders. I'm a leader of leaders. Wow, that's impressive. This is what I'm thinking, is a small house. And so we get there the first night they assign rooms and, I'm feeling, you know, like, okay, the morning session, I'm gonna leave worship.

02:15 These people are gonna be amazed by the skill and the authority that I bring to this group. So I'm assigned actually, because it's a small house to the, the main floor on this cot. And so we all go to bed and, I sleep okay. And the, the first morning I, I wake up and I open my eyes and to my horror, to my horror, I realized that everyone else in the house had woken up before me. And they've been very quiet to let me sleep, cut their coffee. And they sat down in the living room and formed a circle of which I was a part of in my cot .

02:54 And so I'm looking around the first thought is why would no one wake me up? The second thought I had, and the more scary one was, where are my pants? it's not a joke. Tell you what. There is no way to be impressive when you are mermaid your way in a sleeping, back to the bathroom to get dressed in front of. And this is before we had any sessions, ah, humility, ah, humility, James chapter four, James is talking to his church in, Jerusalem, and he's realizing there's these conflicts and there's this tension and, and people are fighting and they're arguing. And it's much like today that there's just people doing what people do. And James, begins his, his addressing of these issues. He says this in James chapter four, verse one, he says, what is causing the corals and fights among you?

03:46 Don't they come from the evil desires at war, within you. You want what you don't have. So you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it. So you fight and wage war to take it away from them yet. You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. That takes humility by the way to ask. And even when you ask you, don't get it because you, your motives are all wrong. You want only what will give you, pleasure you adult her. Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God. I say it again. If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think that scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate. And the spirit that he's placed within us should be faithful to him.

04:32 And he gives grace generously as scriptures say, God opposes the proud. It gives grace to the humble. So humble yourself before God resist the devil. And he will flee from you. Come close to God and God will come close to you. Wash your hands. You sinners, purify your hearts for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom, instead of joy, humble yourself before the Lord. And he will lift you up in honor. Would you pray with me this morning? Well, we, we welcome your work. and that's a dangerous prayer. When we're talking about humility that we would welcome your work of humility in our lives. whatever root of pride is at work, in our thoughts and our, our, even our, our relationship with you, Jesus.

05:23 Well, we pray father bring humility today, even as your word comes alive in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. Well, you know, it's, it's interesting. Most virtues that we talk about in church, can be discussed openly. You know, if, if forgiveness is something that you've struggled with and then you're able to forgive, you might come up to, to me or, or someone else in the church and be like, you know, this is so great. I I've been able to forgive my dad. Isn't that incredible? And we'll celebrate and say, yay. or, you know, I, I, I was, I was having such a hard time, but there's just been such a, a work of joy in my, my heart for what God is doing. And we would say, that's awesome if you came up to me today and he said, did you know that I am in the top 10 of humble people in this church?

06:08 It's a little different, it's a little different, right? I don't know how you talk about humility. And the thing about humility is as soon as you think you have it by nature of thinking, you have it, guess what? You don't have. It, it's this elusive thing. And so it's easier actually just to not talk about it at all, not think about it at all and just set it aside and say, you know what humility is for other people, humility is for someone else, you know, we'd read these stories of these monks that would, that would, you know, disavow, all possessions and all wealth. And they would go and they'd live in SLO. And we think that humility is for them. God bless those monks . And for us, you know what we, we don't talk about. It's, it's better to not talk about it.

06:50 But James is seeing that, that there is issues that are, are cropping up in the church. And what he does is he zeroes in on the root cause of these issues as a root of pride in the church, there's conflicts, there's, there's sin happening. There's there's favoritism being shown. As we learned a couple weeks ago, where, where wealthy, successful people are coming in the church and they're get in the best seats and they're getting honor. And then the poor are coming in the church and they're being sat in the back where, well, we don't want to, we don't wanna have to see them. James says, it's pride. People are, are going out and taking license by the, from the grace of God. They're taking license to live. However they want and enter into a sinful lifestyle, cuz it, you know, I'm above the rules, it's pride.

07:31 And so James is coming into this, this church and he's saying, listen, I love you. Humility has to do its work in you. se a couple years ago I had to replace an Aspen in my backyard and some idiot had planted it really poorly, but I learned so the second time around, you know, they have those little, some of you, you know, you're better gardeners than I am when I just go to Lowe's and I get a, a, a plant or a tree in one of the, the plastic bins. And it has that little diagram. It shows you how big the hole should be, that you dig to put the tree in. And it says that you should go, you know, like a time and a half or two times wider than the root ball when you dig the hole. And I say, you know what?

08:17 It seems to fit in the tiny little hole that I, I shoved it in and then tamped it down with my foot to get it, get the roots, compacted enough, to kind of be level with the ground. My friends, this is not how you plant a tree, but old idiot, Evan thought this was a good idea. And so after a couple years, the treat actually grown very tall, but it was very, very shallow in its roots system to where, if you just lean on it, it would, it would tip. And so it started to die. And so I had to, I had to tear this thing out and then I thought, you know, the second time around, I'm gonna get it right. And so I, I got another tree and I looked at the diagram and I, I dug my friends. I dug a hole.

08:54 I did the back fill thing. I, I did. I mulched for the first time in my life. I mulched you guys are not as impressed as I thought you would be with my gardening skills. Some of you're shaking your head thinking, my goodness, you should just do that. Like hard escape everywhere. But I dug a hole and, and I realized like, if I don't wanna waste the effort that I'm putting in, it has to be done. Right. Which means that you've gotta create more space, not just for what's there, but what will be there on the roots. And we've talked about this a lot. How, how a life without roots at all is a life without character. But I would say this, that a, a life that has roots, but no space for those to develop no hold to be put in big enough to, to, to develop is a life filled with pride. A faith filled with pride, a spirituality that is based in pride. I've got the right stuff. I've got the character, I've got the knowledge, I've got the charisma, I've got the talent, whatever it may be. But when I go to dig the hole of humility, I haven't gone deep enough to allow that faith to really grow. And I would say this way, that faith grows in a whole called humility. Faith grows in a whole called humility.

10:04 Your faith is only as healthy as the humility it's planted. And this is a work that is scary and difficult and easy to ignore because not many people will notice whether or not humility has done its work in your life. If I come to the conclusion that I'm above certain people and that certain people aren't important enough for my time and attention and compassion, people will notice that at least not the important people. So this work happens on the inside. This work happens beneath the surface. This work is like that tree that you can't tell what's going on with the roots. But if enough time goes by, you realize that the faith is weak when you lean against it. And so James would say is time to dig deeper. And in this process of humbling, this process of humility, many times like I did in the Rocky central Oregon soil, the first time say, I think this is deep enough.

11:04 Have you ever been through a time of humbling in your life? And you think, I think we're good now let's get back to the not humbling stuff. I think, I think the hole that I'm finding myself in is deep enough. I think there's enough rocks down here where I don't want to go any deeper. It's getting too difficult down here. And James would say, let humility, do his good work in you. If you want to faith, that's going to be strong enough to sustain the pressure and the wind and the storms of life. Let humility do its good work in you. Let it go deep. Let it dig into the soil of your heart. Back to verse six, James four, six. He says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It's interesting in, in this chapter that James continually is tying the idea of grace.

12:03 The idea of humility, humility, and grace, grace, and humility. You know, the heart of our faith as people who call ourselves Christians who fall after Jesus is this idea of grace. If you remove grace from our faith, if you remove grace from the gospel, if you remove grace from Jesus, what you get is something that is unable actually to make us right with God, because without grace, all we have is laws. And I don't know about you, but I'm a law breaker. I'm a sinner. I I'm someone who has fallen short of the glory of God, Paul would say. And so we can't have, a relationship with God that is righteous unless we have the grace of God. And so when James ties these two together, the idea of grace and humility, we understand that humility is not just a nice virtue to add to the other virtues that we go after, you know, love, peace, joy, and then we're gonna add some humility in there if we can.

13:02 No humility is actually the only posture in which we can receive. God's grace, let me say that again. Humility is the only posture in which we can receive. God's grace. There's certain things that you need a posture to receive. You know, if, if you have ever watched baseball, I have not, but I've, I've heard it's fun. you know, the catcher has a position and if he's not in that position, it's gonna be difficult for him to catch the ball. There's a position involved in the receiving. have you ever been to FIO? I've done that. , I've done that. My friends, you know, you gotta get the cup in the right place. Otherwise just ask my four year old, you're gonna, you're gonna make a mess. There is a posture of receiving that is required to get the gift. And here's what, what we understand about the gift of God's grace is that the posture we are in to receive it is called humility.

14:04 It's a lowness in our hearts. One, one author said this, that, that our, our pursuit of Jesus is always down, down, down, never up. Well, that sounds defeatist. Here's the thing. Jesus came to Institute something that was completely upside down because it's actually in the humbling of Christ on the cross, the humbling of Christ on the cross, not the glorification of Christ, not the triumph of Christ, because remember in the moment is Christ is hanging on the cross. It is humility and shame. And it's in this humbling of Christ on the cross that it is so difficult as, as the early church goes out and they begin to, to, to preach and proclaim the news about this Jesus and the people would hear this, wait, you want us to worship a crucified Messiah. One of those Outlaws that's killed by, by the Romans. Ah, we .

15:00 We worship a lot of things here in the Greco, Roman empire, but we don't worship crucified gods. We don't worship shamed messiahs. It might possibly be one of the gr strongest evidences of the, of the truth of the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is that the disciples would never have made up from scratch. The idea that the Messiah is killed in such a shameful way, right out of the gate, wouldn't do it. And here the church goes and the Peter and James and John, they go out and they begin to preach this, this crucified, shamed, humiliated Messiah. And it makes no sense. And later Paul would write about it. And he'd say that the, the, the cross is foolishness to those who are Pering. But to those of us who are being saved as the power of God for salvation, the Gentiles and the Jews, this foolishness of the humbling of Christ, and what comes through that humbling of Christ on the cross is grace that Jesus in this intense moment of humility, cuz remember, we believe that he chose this. He walked willingly into the humble, humiliating position of the cross and through it, he becomes a conduit at what, for the grace of God, to you humility and grace humility and grace Christ humbles himself. And what flows through him is the grace of God to us. And then he says, come follow me, walk in this way. Walk in humility, allow the work of humility to dig deep in the soil of your heart. So what so that you can be a reservoir, a carrier, a container of grace.

16:54 Have you been to crater lake? It's beautiful. It's our only national park. If you're new to Oregon, you may not know that. crater lake is our only national park and 1902 Roosevelt made it a national park and our only one to this day. but long before that, long before people were around it wasn't called crater lake. Of course it actually wasn't called anything cuz people weren't around. It was just called whatever animals call lakes . And about 7,000 years ago, it was Mount Mazama, which is what we call it, what it used to be now. And and it was a mountain of course, and, and it erupts and in the, the crater, the caldera of this volcano. Now we get this stunning, beautiful place called crater lake. It's the deepest lake in the United States at 2,148 feet. It's known for its extreme clarity and purity.

17:59 People come from all over the world to see crater lake. And it's interesting. you know, when people visit and maybe when, when we go to crater lake, no one stands on the edge of crater lake drives around the rim on that road looks out at wizard island looks down into the deep blue waters. No one looks at it and says, man, this is really beautiful, but it's sure a shame about the volcano that happened. You know, and I'm saying this would be better if it was still mountain Zama, I've never heard of the fans of Mount Mazama, picketing around crater lake of the lodge. You'd be like, bring back the mountain.

18:39 Of course not. The beauty is actually in the eruption. What happened? The void. And it's actually not the void that that makes it so beautiful. It's what happened after the eruption happened over millennia of time as, as the rain began to fall and the, the, the, the Springs, I don't even know if, if it's from spring water or rain, I don't know how it works, but it began to fill up and what makes crater lakes so stunning and beautiful and a draw and an attraction and people come from all over the world to see it is not the fact that it was a mountain. It's not even the fact that it was a volcano. It's the fact that the volcano created a Calera that now has been filled with some of the most picturesque, beautiful water, anywhere in the Northwest. And this is the grace of God in our lives. It takes the lowest places of our lives. The things we're not proud of, the things that are, are, are even trauma to us. In many ways, the things we're ashamed of, the things that we look in our lives and say, I, I would prefer not to show that off. And here comes the grace of God, like water to our souls, and it begins to fill up what was once shameful and it makes it something beautiful.

19:57 Grace flows to the lowest places. Andrew Murray in his classic book called humility. He said the highest glory of the creature is in being only a vessel to receive and enjoy and show forth the glory of God. It can do this only as it is willing to be nothing in itself that God may be all water always feels first, the lowest places. And so what do I, what do I hope we receive from James today? I hope we receive this, that it's actually okay to allow the work of humility in our hearts to dig low and deep and remove some rocks and stones and keep digging. And we say, I don't know if I want to do this process of humility anymore, but I, I here's the, here's the cool thing that's coming. It's the grace of God, like water to our souls to fill the lowest places. And so he uses even the worst parts of our history as conduits and vessels for his grace. When we talk about grace, it's, it's fun. I think we're even gonna do a series on grace, cuz it's so important. But when we talk about grace, I've, I've had conversations after

21:19 Days. When we talk about grace and people get frustrated, frustrated with grace, Evan, why do you guys always talk about grace? Talk more about sin. It's more fun.


21:34 You know, I I'm, I'm pretty convinced that most people have a decent idea of, of how religion and Christianity looks at sin, but I'm also convinced of this that most people have no idea of how great and deep the work of grace is for everybody. I'm just, I, people don't get it. And so if I'm gonna err, on the side of anything, I'm gonna err on the side of expressing and extending the great grace of God, like the depth of the crater lake deepest in the whole country. This idea that God's grace is deeper than we thought it was. It's deeper than we think it needs to be. It fills the lowest places and grace has no purpose unless there's something to fill. You know that actually Jesus even said that he said, and mark two 17, he said healthy people don't need a doctor. Sick people are the ones that I've come to call those who are not, sorry, not those who think they're righteous, but those who know they are sinners. Grace fills the lowest places. Grace skips past the mountains. Grace skips past those who are high and mighty to find and fill the lowest places of our God's best gifts for you are kept in the lowest places.

22:52 Last week. We, we baptized, I think 26, 26 people in the river, down the old mill. Yeah. So cool people on standup paddle boards floating right by us. We're baptizing

23:05 As we're baptizing, people are just, it's always such a moving experience to, to participate and, and be there with, with people as they're committing their lives in a new way to walk in new life in Christ. And, and it's an interesting process, you know, cuz cuz we'll stand with them and we're in the river and there's slippery rocks and everything. And, and so, myself and pastor Steve, pastor Josh, pastor Ben, we're down there baptizing. And as we're standing on either side of, of these folks, as they're, they're getting baptized, we're always, we're always looking at the height of a person. You know, the height is what determines the leverage that you're gonna need to get the person back up . And so, but I was thinking about this in baptism. if you're getting baptized, you participate in the going down part. You know that,

23:52 if you don't participate, that's like a forced baptism or a drowning and we don't want that you participate in the going down. But, but once, once you're down in the waters of baptism, it's actually up to the people surrounding you to lift you back up. There's not much you can do when you're horizontal in the river, you need somebody else to lift you up. And I had this thought about humility that actually we participate in the going down trusting that somebody else is strong enough and good enough and considers us enough to bring us back up. And that's the heart of Jesus for you. And I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid of vulnerability. So afraid of humbling myself. I'm so afraid that you'll find out that, that I have doubts too, that I struggle with sin too, that I don't have all the answers. And sometimes I feel like I'm faking it. I don't want you to find out what it's like when, when I participate in the going down. But here's what happens. I believe this, that God is faithful to exalt and to raise up and to lift up those who trust in his grace enough to say Jesus have all of me.

25:10 And so Jesus today, I, I just, I pray for a great work of grace. I pray for a work of humility, but I know that grace comes alongside with it. And so first I pray for grace, grace for a willingness and an openness to the good work of Jesus that invites us into a lower kind of life that like those last weekend entry into the waters of baptism every day, we would allow ourselves and participate in the process of humbling and finding that low place and trusting that your grace is gonna meet us there and that you are going to raise us up. Jesus, let your grace minister to all of us today. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.