A Humble Attitude Toward Resources

Steve Viars March 11, 2006 Deuteronomy 8:1-20

- Have you ever been in a situation where you were preparing for a new job, or a new sport, or a new venture of some kind...and you read a book, or a manual, or went to a training conference of some kind...
- and the kind of training you received wasn’t even close to what you expected...
- in fact, you might have walked away saying that was a waste of my time and effort and money...
- and maybe it was...or maybe it was preparing you in more important areas that you hadn’t even anticipated...

- most of us have seen the movie the Karate Kid...where a young man Daniel asks as elderly man to teach him karate...
- [Pic #1]
- so the first day Mr. Miyagi makes him sand the wood decks around his house...
- [Pic #2]
- then he makes him wax the car...
- [Pic #3]
- to the point that his arms can hardly move because they ache so much...
- then he makes him paint his house, and then paint his fence...

- and then in that classic scene, Mr. Miyagi goes fishing...and leaves Daniel to do more work...
- and Daniel’s had it...so when he comes back from fishing...he says, why didn’t you ask me...maybe I wanted to go...
- Mr. Miyagi says...you karate training...
- Daniel responds...I’m what?...I’m being your slave...we made a deal here...you’re supposed to teach and I’m supposed to learn...four days I’ve been working like a dog...I haven’t learned a thing...
- Mr. Miyagi says...you learn plenty...
- Daniel – I learned to sand your decks...I’ve waxed your car, painted your house, and your fence...
- do you remember what Mr. Miyagi said next?...not everything as it seems...
- at that point Daniel gets angry and turns to leave...and Mr. Miyagi calls him back and says...
- show me sand the floor...
- Daniel says...I can’t move my arm...
- show me, big circles...
- and then Mr. Miyagi throws a punch, and Daniel is able to block it by his sanding the floor move...
- and then he says...wax on...wax off...
- concentrate...look in my eyes...

- and at that point Daniel realizes...the kind of training I thought I needed wasn’t even close to what the master knew I needed...and he was right...
- the scene ends with Mr. Miyagi saying...Come back tomorrow...everything not as it seems...
- with that in mind I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Deuteronomy chapter 8...page 139 on the Bible under the chair in front of you...page 236 of our Chinese English Bibles...
- this year at our church is Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness...
- we’re trying to grow in our relationship with the Lord and our ability to serve Him [which is something we try to do every year]...
- but now we have the added incentive of trying to begin a significant number of new ministries in the next 16 months in our community, and in our missions endeavors, and in our training programs for people seeking full-time Christian service...
- so every person getting to the next place in our ministry effectiveness is an important part of the program these days...

- to help us accomplish this goal we’ve turned to the book of Deuteronomy...which is a gearing up book for the children of Israel...
- because by now they have concluded their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness...
- and God brings them to a place called Beth Peor...[show pic of Beth Peor]

- it is time for them to gear up to enter the promised land...
- but here’s what we’ve seen thus far...we’re in a similar position to Daniel in the movie I mentioned a moment ago...
- there hasn’t been anything about military strategy...nothing about organization of supplies...nothing about rank and who’s going to go where...
- it’s been a lot of sand the floor...wax on, wax off, paint the fence...

- that’s going to become even truer for the next two chapters, and for us...for the next two weeks...because God instructs His people comprehensively...about the issues of pride and humility...
- and maybe it’s just an unrelated subject by a cruel taskmaster who never really intends to teach us what especially need to know...
- or maybe it’s at the very core of what is involved in gearing up for greater effectiveness...
- everything not as it seems...

- this morning we’re talking about Developing A Humble Attitude Toward Your Resources.
- please follow along as I read beginning at Deuteronomy 8:1...read 8:1-20

- we’re talking this morning about developing a humble attitude toward your resources...and I’d like to suggest to you that in these verses, we can find...Three steps to avoid the gear jamming sin of pride.


I. Grow in Humility when Times are Lean.


- in these first verses Moses takes them back in their minds to the last 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and what God was trying to accomplish in them during that time...and you could summarize the emphasis by saying...
A. God values humility in the lives of His children.
- that’s what that was all about...
- a key phrase occurs in the middle of verse 2...
- Deuteronomy 8:2 – You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you...
- when you see the word “that” in Scripture, many times it signals a purpose clause...
- “that He might humble you...”
- not humble you in the sense of embarrass you, or put you down, or make you grovel...
- but put you in a position where you would develop a character quality that was very valuable to Him, and absolutely essential for your next stage of ministry...
- we see this emphasis in many places in Scripture:
- Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Ephesians 4:1-2 - I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
- 1 Peter 5:5-6 - Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “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,
- one of the questions that each one of us will have to answer this morning is whether we value the development of humility in our lives the way God does...

- something else we learn from this text is that...
B. Like all virtues, humility begins in the heart.
- you probably noticed that many times in this chapter, Moses spoke about the heart...
- verse 2- to know what was in your heart...
- verse 5 – Thus you are to know in your heart...
- verse 14 – then your heart will become proud...
- verse 17 – otherwise, you might say in your heart...
- I’ve had a lot of people from the community say to me recently...boy, you folks are doing a lot of work out there these days...
- probably a good response would be something like, well, we’re especially trying to work on our hearts...we understand we have a long way to go in that department...
- also have you noticed that several times in this book we find the phrase “say in your heart”...
- in other words, this deals a lot with what we choose to tell ourselves...the thoughts we cultivate...the grid with which we interpret life...what goes around and around and around...
- does what you “say in your heart” lead you down the road of pride or down the road of humility?....long before the words are spoken, or the decisions are made or the actions taken...what do you say in your heart?

C. Humility is directly linked to your willingness to obey God’s Word.
- that emphasis comes through loud and clear in this passage...the connection between humility and obedience...
- verse 8:1 – All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do...
- verse 2 – whether you would keep His commandments or not...
- verse 3 – man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
- verse 6 – you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him...
- verse 11 – do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today...
- verse 20 – Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
- no individual or group of persons is geared up to take the next steps in their service for God until they done business with the fundamental matter of the Lordship of Christ...
- pride is the self-centered worship of man...and it only obeys when it is convenient, or appears to further the individuals already established beliefs and agenda...
- now, what about this issue of the lean times the children of Israel have just experienced?....
- how does that relate to this topic?
D. Lean times clarify the origin of our resources.
- verse 3 is crucial to all of this...
- verse 3a - He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know...
- the leanest times materially are sometimes the richest times spiritually...

- you might be here this morning and are facing a really lean time...maybe it’s materially, or maybe it is in a particular relationship where things are not going the way you wished...
- or maybe it is a problem with your health or with the circumstances of somebody you love...
- are you allowing that to bring you to the humble position of saying to the Lord of heaven...without you, I can do nothing...Lord, I need you every hour and I’m going to stop acting like I don’t...

- when I decided that I believed it was God’s will for me to become a pastor...I had some loved ones say to me...don’t do that...that would be very foolish...
- and as I look back on that...I think it was more of an honest concern that I would be barefoot and poor all of my days...
- and I will tell you, it was lean at times...
- I never knew from one year to the next if I was going to be able to pay my tuition bill...and many times it was incredibly close...
- the Kris and I were married and she worked full time to put me through graduate school...and we just made it...we lived in a trailer, we drove an old car...it was just lean...
- then I took my first ministry assignment in NJ...my salary that first year was $15,000...the church was rebounding from some severe financial problems and that’s all they could do...
- I was also working on a post graduate degree so Kris was still working to pay that tuition...
- the apartment we lived in was really rough...but it was the best we could do...
- there was a Italian restaurant across from our apartment that sold this cinnamon bread...and I can remember times when that would be our big treat for the week...and we would have to count out our change to get that...
- but it was interesting to watch the Lord provide...
- and when it came to me taking the last class in my doctoral program...we were just out of money...
- and we didn’t say anything to anyone...and one of my friends from that church came up to me and said, we’ve been impressed with how hard you guys have worked to get through school...we want to give you a graduation gift and pay for your last class...
- strange coincidence, huh?...or maybe God just trying to teach His children humility in the lean times...
E. Lean times clarify our priorities.
- according to the end of verse 3, why did God put them in that position?
- verse 3b – that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
- see, if you’re living in lean times right now...one of the essential questions is...are you responding in a way that develops humility, or responding in a way that develops pride?...
- and one of the primary points of evaluation is whether you are obeying God’s Word anyway...
- some people use perceived lean-ness as an opportunity to justify disobedience...
- others use it to demonstrate that God’s Word is their sustenance even if that’s all they have...
- Kris and I had to decide during that time...OK, what about the resources we do have...
- we have time...we have strong bodies...we have gifts...we have some money...
- are we going to try to humbly obey God with the stewardship of all of that...
- or are we going to proudly say that it is OK for us to become bitter, and stingy, and just give him the leftovers?...
- and we tried to say...Jesus is first...and we value God’s Word...
- so if we can invest our time to help our church proclaim it...we’re going to do that...
- and if we can use our bodies to strengthen the ministry, we’re going to do that...we want what has “proceeded out of the mouth of God” to be proclaimed in that community...
- and when it came to giving...we were going to obey God’s Word...we wanted him to have the first fruits, not the leftovers...

- and what happened to the children of Israel in verse 4?
F. Lean times give God special opportunities to bless and provide.
- verse 4 – Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
- and I agree with the commentators who think that the discipline spoken of in verse 5 isn’t punitive in nature as much as it’s an opportunity to be taught.

- can I just pause and speak to those who would say that they are experiencing leanness in some area of your life?...can I ask you...
1. Is it possible that God is trying to help you grow in humility?...
- let’s think about this for a moment in the ultimate sense?...
- for some of you, perhaps you have never trusted Christ as Savior and Lord...and one of the reasons you haven’t is because you understand you have to humble yourself to do that...you have to admit that you need something that only Jesus Christ could provide for you...are you willing to make that admission and trust Him as Savior?
2. Is it possible that God is testing your allegiance to His Word?
- are you trying to live by bread alone [by your efforts to figure it out], or are you living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God?
3. Is it possible that God wants you to become more dependant on His blessing, and His provision?...to trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not...

- now, that’s not the end of the story---nor is that the end of the challenge...because the truth is...what Moses was really concerned about was that God’s people...


II. Grow in Humility when Times are Good.


- their situation was about to dramatically change...why?
A. God delights in blessing obedient people.
- verses 7-9 describe...
1. The characteristics of the promised land.
- and it was going to be anything but leanness...
- but according to verse 10, what was...
2. The desired effect.
Deuteronomy 8:10 - When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.
- here’s the point---there is a definite relationship between humility and thankfulness...
- and it’s a cycle...of humility...and obedience...and blessing...and thankfulness...

- and friends, we need to face something...while there are some exceptions, and I realize that...
- for most of us, as individuals...and certainly as a church...we are living in abundance...
- we have a congregation with an incredible amount of gifts...
- there is a marvelous spirit of unity here...
- you couldn’t ask for a better location or set of ministry opportunities...
- did you notice, in your bulletin, last week’s offering? [$74,196...]...
- we are living in abundance...but this text is tailor made for that...

B. Abundance provides unique challenges.
- [review the argument of verses 12-13...]
1. a proud heart.
- verse 14 – then your heart will become proud.

- friends, a significant part of gearing up for greater effectiveness for our congregation is to cry out for a humble heart in response to the resources God has entrusted to us...
- we have to be sure we are cultivating the cycle of humility...and obedience...and blessing...and thankfulness...
- in his book From Pride to Humility, Stuart Scott lists a number of...
Manifestations of Pride
1.  Complaining against or passing judgment on God.  A proud person in a difficult situation thinks, “Look what God has done to me after all I have done for Him.”
2.  A lack of gratitude in general.  Proud people usually think they deserve what is good.
3.  Anger.  A proud person is often an angry person.  One’s anger can include outbursts of anger, withdrawing, pouting, or frustration.
4.  Seeing yourself as better than others.  A proud person is usually on top looking down on others.
5.  Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.  Many proud people have a very wrong perception of themselves.
6.  Being focused on the lack of your gifts and abilities.  Some proud people may not come across proud at all, because they are always down on themselves.
7.  Perfectionism.  People who strive for everything to be perfect often do so for recognition.
8.  Talking too much.  Proud people who talk too much often do it because they think that what they have to say is more important than what anyone else has to say.
9.  Talking too much about yourself.  A person who is proud may center on themselves in conversation.
10.  Seeking independence or control.  Some proud people find it extremely difficult to work under someone else or to submit to an authority.
11.  Being consumed with what others think.  Some proud people are too concerned about the opinion of others.
12.  Being devastated or angered by criticism.  Proud people usually struggle a great deal with criticism.
13.  Being unteachable.  Many proud individuals know it all.  They’re superior.
14.  Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.  Proud people can be very unkind people.
15.  A lack of service.  Proud people may not serve because they are not thinking of others, or because thy want to be coaxed to serve and don’t want to continue if there is no praise.
16.  A lack of compassion.  A person who is proud is rarely concerned for others and their concerns.
17.  Being defensive or blame-shifting.  You will often hear a proud person say, “Are you saying it’s my fault?” or “Well, what about you?”
18.  A lack of admitting when you are wrong.  A proud person will make a great many excuses such as, “I was tired,” or “I was having a bad day.”
19.  A lack of asking forgiveness.  Proud people rarely admit their sin or ask for forgiveness of others.
20.  A lack of biblical prayer.  Most proud people pray very little, it at all.
21.  Resisting authority or being disrespectful.  A proud person may detest being told what to do.
22.  Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.  A proud person might not be able to keep his preferences or opinions to himself.
23.  Minimizing your own sin and shortcomings.  A proud person typically believes that their sin is no big deal.
24.  Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.  To the proud person, other people are the problem.
25.  Being impatient or irritable with others.  A proud person might be angry with other people because they are concerned that their own schedule or plans are being ruined.
26.  Being jealous or envious.  Often when they do not enjoy the same benefits, proud people have a hard time being glad for other’s successes or blessings.
27.  Using others.  The proud person usually views others in terms of what those people can do for them and their interests.
28.  Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.  Some proud people will do just about anything in order for others not to find out negative things about them.
29.  Using attention-getting tactics.  A proud person may try to draw attention to themselves through dress, bizarre behavior, being rebellious, always talking about their problems, etc.
30.  Not having close relationships.  Proud people often have no use for close relationships, thinking that the trouble outweighs the benefits.
From Pride to Humility by Stuart Scott, pp. 6-10.

- this gives us a lot to think about and pray about, doesn’t it?...
- because on the one hand...if a group of people are faithfully serving God...it stands to reason that He will in turn bless them with greater resources...[Matt. 25 – you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things...]
- but responding to that blessing with thankfulness and not pride is a challenging assignment indeed...
2. forgetting the Lord
- verse 14 – you will forget the Lord.

3. a self-centered outlook
- verse 17 - Deuteronomy 8:17 - You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”

- so where does this leave us?


III. Grow in Humility by Making it a Gearing Up Priority.


A. Always remember that God is the one who gives us power to make wealth.
- our resources are from His good hand...

- deal with the issue of stretching ourselves in ministry...the delicate balance between proud presumption on one hand [trying too much too fast...] and proud self-sufficiency [resting on our laurels...]

B. Humble obedience is an act of worship.

- whether we are in a time that is lean, or a time that is good...our obedience to Scripture demonstrates that we wish to serve and worship the God of the Bible...


- well, when we said at the beginning of the year, did you think that would include discussions about pride?...
- some believers might even conclude something like, where in the world will we ever use that?...

- that’s what the Karate kid said...when Mr. Miyagi tried to teach him the crane technique...
- [Pic #4]
- when in the world would you ever need that?

- [Pic #5]

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video