Mark 12:38-44
SMAS 9am

A turtle wanted to spend the winter in Florida, but he knew he could never walk that far. He convinced a couple of geese to help him, each taking one end of a piece of rope, while he clamped his vice-like jaws in the centre. The flight went fine until someone on the ground
looked up in admiration and asked, "Who in the world thought of that?" Unable to resist the chance to take credit, the turtle opened his mouth to shout, "I did -- "

'Pride comes before a fall'. Humility is the sign of a great Christian. It’s difficult to achieve. It comes when we realize that others can achieve more than us, that others have more to offer than us, and ultimately when we realize how unworthy we are of all God has given us.

The Pharisees listening to Jesus would have seen themselves as superior (obeying the Law whereas Jesus broke it). The important point that Jesus wants to make is that being humble is a precondition of repentance. Unless we are humble we’re not ready to ask God’s forgiveness. If we are full of pride we cannot honestly ask God to forgive us our sin. Humility is the sign of a great Christian.

Jesus says that how pride and self-seeking will lead severe punishment. Elsewhere He makes it plain that those who humble themselves will be lifted up to God, by God, through Jesus by work of the Holy Spirit. Those who lift themselves above others God will punish them and bring them down to size. D L Moody said: "God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves"

Jesus spoke of humility – He doesn’t say that people have to belittle themselves or consider themselves worthless. But we need to realize that we fall short of God's greatness.

Our mineral elements = approximately £450. Our lives depend on bees – where would we be without them! As our sense of importance decreases we will be more able to become like a little child and we know that Jesus called them to Himself even thought in that society they were considered as nobodies.

Mike Yaconelli said Jesus loved nobodies. Nobodies also fall short of His perfect will and need His mercy, which comes from Jesus’ dying for our sins on the cross, it is that alone which puts people right with God.

TRUE humility comes from putting God first. Those who humble themselves will be exalted; they will be raised up from death by God when Jesus returns. They will be raised to be united with Jesus in glory.

It is quite hard to give and not expect anything in return. Sometimes we don’t always realize we feel like that though, as with parents who suddenly find themselves saying ‘after all I’ve done for them’. We don’t always realize we expect a return for what we do!

But sacrificial giving leads to blessings. This may sometimes be experienced in this life by the knowledge that someone in need has benefited from our giving.

In order to teach his children about Jesus' Kingdom ethics, Tony Campolo's family decided to give a large amount to charity each Christmas and only give a small gift to each other. The rest was sent to a school in Haiti. The children resented it at first, but got used to it.

When they were teenagers he took them to Haiti and as they approached the school, dozens of children rushed out to greet them. His son turned to him and said, "Dad, this is the best Christmas gift anyone could ever get." 

Jesus was calling to humility those who were about to see their true King shamefully executed. I think that is where we put this into context. Our great king humbled on a cross - how dare we ever want to exalt ourselves? Recognizing that
He died there for us should make us seek His forgiveness, something we cannot do without a good deal of humility.

But as always God shows us the way. He shows us humility in the incarnation. He shows us sacrificial giving in dying for us on the cross. He gave up His glory for our benefit, not His!

The Bible tells us that Jesus is ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’. It is right that we apply this message to other days and places. Not just the story we heard today, but within OUR story here today. Amen.