Growing by Developing Humility

Dr. Steve Viars October 20, 2019 James 4:11-17
Outline

Daniel 4:12 - And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it.

Daniel 4:14-17 - He shouted out and spoke as follows: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field; and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast’s mind be given to him, and let seven periods of time pass over him. This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

Daniel 4:19 - Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!

Daniel 4:26-27 - And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.

Daniel 4:29-30 - Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?

Daniel 4:3 - Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Daniel 4:34-37 - But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

“Pride is the epidemic vice. It is everywhere and manifests itself in many ways. As much as we may hate to admit it, we all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but ‘Where is it’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’” From Pride to Humility, Stuart Scott, p. 2

Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom…

James 4:10 - Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Philippians 2:5-9 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name…

3 characteristics to avoid in order to grow in humility

I. Judgmentalism

A. A slanderous tongue

James 4:11 - Do not speak against one another, brethren…

Leviticus 19:16 - You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people…

Proverbs 20:19 - He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.

“The biblical injunctions against slander do not, as many in the church today erroneously believe, prohibit rebuking those who persist in unrepentant sin. On the contrary, such public exposure of sin is commanded in Scripture…James’s words do not speak against one another do not forbid exposing sin with righteous intent, but rather lying with malicious intent. Katalaleō (speak against) appears only here and in 1 Peter 2:12 and 3:16. Along with the related nouns katalalia (‘slander’; 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Pet. 2:1) and katalalous (‘slanderers’; Rom. 1:30), it refers to mindless, thoughtless, careless, critical, derogatory, untrue speech directed against others.” John MacArthur, Commentary on James, p. 221

B. A judgmental heart

James 4:11 - Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother…

C. A rebellious act

James 4:11 - Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

D. A prideful outlook

James 4:12 - There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

II. Presumption

James 4:16 - But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

A. How it sounds

James 4:13 - Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

B. Why is it wrong?

James 4:14 - Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

C. What it should be

James 4:15 - Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

D. What this tendency reveals

James 4:16 - But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

III. Inactivity

James 4:17 - Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

- one of the more unusual stories is the Bible is that of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon

- we read about him in the book of Daniel and in chapter 4, he has a dream about a tree in the center of the earth that was large and strong and reaching to the sky…

- Scripture tells us the tree’s foliage [in this dream] was beautiful and its fruit was abundant…

- the passages goes on to say…And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it (Daniel 4:12).

- then the dream turned into a nightmare, because an angelic messenger, a holy one (Scripture says), descended from heaven…

- He shouted out and spoke as follows: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field; and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast’s mind be given to him, and let seven periods of time pass over him. This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:14-17).

- then Scripture says that Nebuchadnezzar told his dream to a Jewish exile named Daniel…

- by now Daniel and his three friends had been promoted in the kingdom because of their devotion to the God of Israel [even while living in exile] and their unusual wisdom and skill at their craft…

- and it’s fascinating to listen to the way Daniel responds when he hears the dream…

- he knows it refers to Nebuchadnezzar…and I suppose he could have smirked because this man whose country had demolished Israel and brought people like him back as exiles to a foreign land was about to get his comeuppance…

- but Daniel, whose ministry eventually spans the rule of four different pagan kings…Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries! (Daniel 4:19).

- I think Daniel was very sincere in that belief…and he went on to explain the dream to the king along with this counsel…And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity. (Daniel 4:26-27).

- it’s amazing that Daniel had the courage to speak to the king in that direct a fashion…

- and it’s also instructive that the king didn’t listen…so…Daniel 4:29–30 - Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?

- and what happened next….Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:33)

- after that period of time, we have what has to be one of the most amazing speeches from the mouth of a pagan king that we find anywhere in the Bible…and it’s given in first person…

- But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:34-37).

- let me ask you this am – do you agree with what Nebuchadnezzar said at the end of that statement – that God is able to humble those who walk in pride?...

- in his marvelous book, From Pride to Humility – author Stuart Scott says “Pride is the epidemic vice. It is everywhere and manifests itself in many ways. As much as we may hate to admit it, we all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but ‘Where is it’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’” (p. 2).

- this fall, we’ve been doing a verse-by-verse study of the book of James entitled Growth Essentials…and one of the observations we’ve made is that the book of James is categorized as wisdom literature in the Bible…it reads very much like the book of Proverbs or the Sermon on the Mount…well, how are the topics of pride and humility related to wisdom?...one answer is…

- Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom…that’s why James instructs us to James 4:10 - Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

- now many of us would say that this is a daily struggle…which is where the gospel enters the conversation…our Lord/Savior stands ready to help us grow in this all-important area…

- remember that he said of himself…Matthew 11:28–30 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

- if you have had a definite time in your life where you admitted your sin, and placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…you are united with Him – He is in you and you are in Him…meaning you have the embodiment of humility living inside of you…

- that’s why Paul exhorted the Philippians…Philippians 2:5–9 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

- now the question becomes…what are some of the specific aspects of pride that have to be addressed if we are going to be Growing by Developing Humility

- thankfully the book of James answers that question is several specific, but also perhaps surprising ways…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to James chapter 4, page ______ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re coming down to the end of our verse-by-verse study of this book…where James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ and now the pastor of the church at Jerusalem is writing to his brothers and sisters who are being scattered to the 4 corners of the known world because of their faith in Jesus Christ…

- and especially considering that context, it’s very surprising and helpful to us to see what James emphasizes, and what he doesn’t emphasize in this book…

- to get a running start, let’s begin by reading James 4:1, but our focus is going to be especially on verses 11-17…read James 4:11-17

- so we’re talking about Growing by Developing Humility…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 characteristics to avoid in order to grow in humility.

I. Judgmentalism

- back in chapter 3 James gave us an extended discussion about our tongues…and I think most of would have said – and that was convicting…

- James even anticipated that response when he said – no one can tame the tongue…we all struggle there…

- now he focuses on a particular kind of speech…

A. A slanderous tongue

- 4:11 – Do not speak against one another, brethren…

- it’s amazing how often this subject comes up in the Word of God…

- Leviticus 19:16 - You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people…

- Proverbs 20:19 - He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.

- now, just like we do on many, many occasions when we study God’s Word, we always have to balance Scripture with Scripture…

- this is focusing on occasions where someone is lying about another person…or speaking to persons who aren’t part of the problem or the solution…

- it’s like Satan slandered the character of God in the Garden of Eden…[incidentally the word devil means slanderer]…”has God said that you can’t eat from any tree of the garden?...

- that’s not what God said…but the slanderer was twisting his words and trying to fool Eve…

- then he said – you won’t surely die – God is trying to withhold something good from you…suggesting fundamentally that God is not good…

- that’s what James is focusing on here…but there are plenty of times in the Bible where a person’s words and actions have to be called out publically..

- John MacArthur explained that difference in his commentary on James - The biblical injunctions against slander do not, as many in the church today erroneously believe, prohibit rebuking those who persist in unrepentant sin. On the contrary, such public exposure of sin is commanded in Scripture…James’s words do not speak against one another do not forbid exposing sin with righteous intent, but rather lying with malicious intent. Katalaleō (speak against) appears only here and in 1 Peter 2:12 and 3:16. Along with the related nouns katalalia (“slander”; 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Pet. 2:1) and katalalous (“slanderers”; Rom. 1:30), it refers to mindless, thoughtless, careless, critical, derogatory, untrue speech directed against others (for full quote, see John MacArthur, Commentary on James, p. 221).

- now back to the main point – isn’t it amazing that in a book written to people who are being scattered – there’s very little about the evil of those who may be scattering them…or mistreating them…

- this book about growing in wisdom is all about facing and addressing any sinful tendencies that all of this pressure might reveal…

- that’s what trials do – they reveal what already resides in the heart…

- and this can give us great hope because we don’t have to change the behavior of those mistreating us…[that truth can be incredibly liberating…]

- our responsibility is to use the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word to help us identify and change whatever weaknesses in ourselves that the trial reveals…

- And one of those tendencies might be – when the pressure is on, is to look around at a brother or sister and slander them…

- perhaps because they have it easier than you…

- or they are responding to their particular trial differently than you would…

- and James explains in the next phrase what the real problem is…

B. A judgmental heart

- James 4:11 - Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother…

- now we’re getting somewhere…because if we’re not careful, this can rear its head in all sorts of ways…

- using criteria other than the word of God to make a negative evaluation of another person…

- well you know, they bought a new car…as if that’s anybody else’s business or as if the Bible says you should or you shouldn’t…

- well, you know – they home school, or they send their kids to public school…or to Christian school…

- and we could illustrate that the rest of the morning…

- and remember the context – this is talking about the way you talk about your brothers…your sisters…and when the pressure of life is on, sometimes we shoot the people closest to us…then it gets worse…

C. A rebellious act

- James 4:11 - Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

- how is that true?...well, because God’s law tells us we’re to love our brothers and sisters…

- that’s why Christ summarized the law in two great commandments – love your neighbor with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself…

- and if/when you and I choose to slander someone – we’re saying that we’re smarter than the law…we know better than the law…God’s law does not apply to us…

- how does this fit into the overall logic of the text…ultimately this is…

D. A prideful outlook

- James 4:12 - There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

- when you and I use an unbiblical standard to judge another individual and then slander them…we’re acting as if we are qualified to be the lawgiver and judge…

- and James asks us a very pointed question – who are you?...

- who do you think you are to sit in sinful condemnation of someone else?...

- if we want to grow in humility, we have to put off sinful judgmentalism…

- I’ve recently been in Memphis for the annual conference of the Association for Certified Biblical Counselors…

- I was asked to say a few words after the death of one of our long-time board members who recently passed away of cancer, David Powlison…

- David was one of my doctoral professors at Westminster and because Pastor Goode brought me on the NANC board at such a young age, I had the opportunity of spending time with people I really had no business associating with at that level…

- but anyone who knew David Powlison would say that he evidenced Christ-like humility…but I was in dozens of board meetings and small group confrontations with him over the years – and what I loved about him was – he would deal with problems…so he could discuss the people and issues involved with biblical soul care with truth and candor…but with humility and submission to the one lawgiver and judge…may the Lord give all of us that skill and balance…

- now, the next issue James raises is…

II. Presumption

- and at first glance, we might think – James changed the subject…

- not really, because look at what he says in verse 16…

- James 4:16 - But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

- so he’s still talking about this theme of the manifestations of pride…so let’s back up and carefully think through the point…

A. How it sounds

James 4:13 - Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

- again, isn’t that fascinating that James would flag this tendency among people who are in the process of being scattered…

- all they’re doing is planning…they are crafting a five year strategic ministry plan – can we all agree there could not possibly be anything wrong with that?...

B. Why is it wrong?

- James 4:14 - Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

- so there’s this presumption that I know I’ll always have another day for my plans to come to fruition and there’s no one up the planning chain who has the authority to alter them…

C. What it should be

- James 4:15 - Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

- so the problem isn’t with their words, as much as what the words in this case reveal about their hearts…

- and the antidote here isn’t appending the words “if the Lord wills” to every statement…

- mom – is it time to brush my teeth – well, only if the Lord wills…

- most moms would probably say – it’s the Lord’s will that I faint because my child just asked to brush his teeth…

D. What this tendency reveals

- James 4:16 - But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

- just like slander is wrongful elevation of self…so is presumption…

- and please think about why James would have made this point to people who were being scattered…

- here’s a key question all of us have to ask…do God have the right and the authority to call an audible?...

- can he sovereignly change our plans – even if it results in additional pain or pressure or mistreatment – maybe even scattering us further if that’s what’s best for the accomplishment of His mission and our spiritual good?...

- and the degree to which we answer “yes” points the needle in the direction of humility…and the degree to which we answer “no” points the needle in the direction of pride…

- and it’s really not just a matter of answering yes or no in answer to a question…but it’s the nature of the response when God changes the plan…

- or perhaps more correctly stated…reveals more of his plan which takes things in a direction we would not have preferred?...

- now, let me try to illustrate this with someone that’s been happening to me recently…and I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about even talking about this publically lest I violate the very principles we’re seeing in this passage and throughout this book…I’ve also sought a fair amount of counsel about this…

- and I’ve decided this is a very teachable moment…so let’s dive into the Chick-fil-A on the Purdue campus issue…

- in many ways, followers of Jesus Christ are living in a scattered condition…this world is not our home…

- and I don’t want to overstate that point – we have much for which to be thankful and an incredible amount of religious liberty in this country…and we should never take that for granted…

- however, it would be great if we lived in a culture where people of varying positions on cultural issues could peacefully coexist and even disagree from time to time…but with civility and respect for a variety of views in the public square…

- well, can we face the fact that we don’t…there are at least some people in our world and in our community and even on Purdue’s campus who would like to shame and silence anyone who believes the Word of God as their source for spiritual and moral truth…

- and I think those are fair words to use – the goal is to shame and silence those who affirm biblical truth for themselves and those who wish to follow God’s Word…

- well, would we all agree that is part of God’s will for us at this particular time and place?...

- of course…and for what it’s worth…I find the joy of seeking to live for Christ and make a difference for Him in this particular cultural context thrilling and exhilarating…

- but you have to face the question – what do you do when there are some people trying to shame and silence God’s Word?...

- please tell me the answer isn’t to be ashamed and be silent?...that cannot be what biblical humility looks like in our cultural context…you have to find your voice if this is God’s will if this is the setting in which the church has been called to live and speak the gospel…and that is true for 2 very important reasons…

1. Because religious liberty is worth protecting and promoting

- you may know – that the Young Life student group was recently de-chartered as an approved student group at Duke University

- Young Life is not some far right wing student group…they are an excellent organization and one of our missionaries, Michael Redding who grew up in this church serves with Young Life…

- people are now going after Focus on the Family – that’s why they shamed Drew Brees for shooting a video for Focus on the Family promoting Take Your Bible with You to School Day…

- they’re going after the Fellowship of Christian Athletes…Marty Ditmar, one of our long time missionaries works under the Fellowship of Christian athletes…

- and the reason is that some people are saying those entities are anti-LGBTQ…

- which isn’t true – don’t let people shame you with their labels…those organizations are pro-biblical truth, they’re pro-God/His Word, they’re pro-religious freedom…

- and they have every bit as much right as anyone else to affirm their beliefs and advocate for them…

- and so does Chick-fil-A….they are a family owned restaurant company…

- and the owners are faithful followers of Jesus Christ…that’s why they are not open on Sunday…

- they’ve never discriminated against an employee or a customer…

- but their owners have every right in the world to give their money to organizations who share and promote their pro-biblical truth beliefs…

- and you and I may plan to have a peaceful, quiet, controversy-free life…but God’s will for us is something different right now…

- and you have to decide – are you going to find your voice…and stand with organizations like this in part so that our kids and grandkids can live and minister in a climate where there’s some modicum of religious liberty left…

- because if you won’t humbly, but definitely stand up for what you believe – don’t complain when someone else takes that right away from you…and what you might be calling biblical humility may in fact be apathy and sinful fear…

2. more to the point – the very proclamation of the gospel is at stake here – nobody ever came to Christ because someone was simply nice to them all the time…

- we believe in being kind…we believe in showing love…

- and we believe in creating an atmosphere where people who will never agree with us have the freedom to speak and live out and advocate for their positions…

- but at some point – for those willing to listen – the subject of the holiness of God has to be put on the table, and the sinfulness of man, and the sufficiency of Scripture and the authority of Christ, and the need for repentance and faith…

- no person will ever genuinely come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ without those concepts…

- and that will always generate sparks…and that may not be our plan/desire – but it certainly is the Lord’s...more-so today than at any other point in our lifetimes…

- so, back to the story…the university announces this summer that they have entered into an arrangement with Chick-fil-A to have a restaurant in a new dorm…in part because there has been an overwhelming amount of requests from students, faculty, and staff to do so…

- well, when everyone came back to campus, a resolution was proposed to the Faculty Senate that the university only enter into business arrangements with companies that were “inclusive”…and some of the people who were interviewed afterward made it clear that the policy – though it is non-binding because of the nature of the faculty senate – but the policy was aimed at Chick-fil-A because of their anti-LGBTQ practices…

- now, we may not like the fact that we are living in a ministry environment like that…but let’s face it – that kind of pressure is what God has determined is his will for us at this time and place…

- so what do you do?...do you say – well, humility leads me to take the position that that’s Chick-fil-A’s problem…but by the grace of God go I – which is southern for – better him than me…

- well, that happened on September 9th…and I was leaving for Chicago the next afternoon to fly to Bolivia with Newton Pena the morning of the 11th.

- So some of you might know that I penned a quick op-ed on the subject…simply asking the University Senate if their desire to be inclusive embraced people of conservative religious faith…because if not, they were just like the people shaming Drew Brees, and even like the little girls in Florida I mentioned several weeks ago who mocked the little boy for his homemade UT T-shirt …

- you might say – why did you do that?...because if a company like Chick-fil-A is going to take such a clear stand for their love for God and His Word – I don’t want them standing alone…and I hope you don’t either…[although I need to love some of you enough to tell you it’s time for you to find your voice]…not proudly, but definitely…

- so then the JC posted the article on-line a few hours later while we were driving up to Chicago…by time we got to the hotel…let’s just say that not everyone agreed with what I had wrote…which is fine, there will always be sparks…

- so the next day – 7:00 am on the 11th…I receive an unsolicited e-mail from a professor at Purdue…and I’m not going to identity his name although he has already posted much of this on-line…and I have a redacted copy of this entire conversation – if you’d like to see it, I’ll e-mail it to you…

- he said – “As for Chick-fil-A on campus, you just watch the first day they open and the students who line up to eat that terrible chicken just to make an openly hateful anti-LGBTQ point.” …

- now I ask you – Can God call an audible?...do we have to hold our plans and desires for what it’s like to live in this culture with an open hand…recognizing that the context of ministry in whish we’ve been placed [His will for us]…may be dramatically different?...

- I answered that e-mail before boarding my first flight…when I arrived in Panama this Purdue professor had responded with a note that included these words…”Enjoy your travels. I pray you don’t meet any LGBTQ folks. They don’t need to meet a false prophet.”

- now again – I’m not slandering this man – he’s very proud that this is his position…

- but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think we’re in a battle…

- and we have to decide – does our God have the right to place us in any challenge he deems best?...and then calls upon us to stand against those who might want to shame and silence us?...

- and by the way – we are not wanting to shame and silence someone else…the core question is – should people in all sectors of our participatory democracy enjoy freedom of expression, including religious expression…

- well, I didn’t answer that e-mail – I needed to be focusing on the men and women I was going to serve in Bolivia – plus I don’t find interchanges like that productive although I was very disappointed that a professor at a public university would speak this way…and I also wondered how, if he would harass an adult male like this – how he might treat a student in one of his classes for their religious beliefs…

- apparently the act of not responding upset this fellow – so I had one last unsolicited e-mail when I landed in Cochabamba after midnight that said – “The word ‘love’ coming out of your mouth is Satan speaking. I don’t respond to Satan.”

- welcome to what it’s like to be scattered…

- welcome to what it’s like to be harassed by a professor at Purdue University because of my faith…

- now we love Purdue for a million reasons…

- and that conversation is not in any way representative of the way the average employee thinks or speaks…

- but if you believe that is an isolated example – I beg to differ with you…

- and I did not go into the ministry to be involved in controversies like that…

- but if it’s God’s will for us to be in a culture that is both a mission field and a battlefield…growth essentials includes developing humility and courage as we accept God’s will for our ministry conditions today…which is why the text ends with encouraging us to avoid…

III. Inactivity

James 4:17 - Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

- Chick-fil-A should not have to stand alone…and by the way – neither should people in the LGBTQ community – I support their right to believe what they believe and advocate for it wholeheartedly…but not it a way that shames and silences other good people…

- so Chick-fil-A shouldn’t have to stand alone…and neither should Dree Brees, or Focus on the Family, or the Fellowship for Christian athletes…

- or a young lady in our church enrolled in a liberal arts program at Purdue and having to face this kind of pressure on a regular basis and on and on…

- to the one who knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it…to him it is sin..

- so if we want to grow in biblical humility –

- we have to avoid judgmentalism, and presumption, and inactivity…

- but when we choose to do that – it’s amazing the number of opportunities we may have to proclaim Christ…

- here’s 2 examples as we close…

1. You probably saw this story of what happened when a former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing a man in his own apartment – there’s all sorts of thing that could be said about that, but what I’d like to focus on was the statement and actions of the victim’s brother Brandt Jean – he said that is Amber was truly sorry, he forgives her – and then he asked if he could give her a hug…

- he said that his main desire wasn’t that she go to jail but that she her life to Christ….

- that’s the essence of humility – not “I know what the future holds and that’s the setting in which I am willing to serve the Lord…”

- but I’ll let the Lord choose the setting…and I won’t slander, and I won’t be presumptuous, and I won’t miss the opportunity the Lord gives me…

2. Here’s one more…

- you may have seen this…

- who is Kanye West’s California Pastor preaching at his Sunday Service

- the answer to that question is – it’s Adam Tyson – a pastor at Placerita Bible Church just down the street from Masters College in Low Angeles…

- I had the privilege of being Adam’s supervisor when he was seeking his ACBC certification…

- so here’s what happened…one of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s maids is a member of Placerita Bible…and they noticed a distinct difference in the way she lived…so they asked her about it so she told them she was a follower of Christ…

- so they asked where she learned about Jesus sand she told her about her church…

- so they said, can we come?...

- so up pulls a couple of big SUV’s…his security detail, etc…

- Kanye started visiting our church back in mid-May," Tyson told Fox News. "He asked me to help him to learn more about God from the Bible so, I started a Bible study with him and others in Calabasas in August." He added: "I would teach from God's Word about how salvation is only by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone."

"In addition to leading a Bible study, we have had lots of conversations about how to love God, love others, walk in holiness, as well as working on the new album 'Jesus is King,'" Tyson said.

- During his Salt Lake City service, which drew 7,000 people, he preached about John 3:16 for about 15 minutes. Tyson summed up his sermon: "My message is that God is holy, but we are all sinners and therefore deserve God’s judgment. God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead on the third day. The good news is that through repentance of your sin and faith in the risen Christ you can have true joy and happiness which is found only in Jesus."

- now, I understand that situations like this notoriously end up badly – so please don’t start sending me e-mail updates of Kanye and Kim’s misdeeds…

- the point is – we don’t get to decide the ministry setting…but if we walk humbly before the Lord – he will give them to us in all sorts of sizes and settings…

- some positive and loving – some controversial and stretching…but scattered people who remain humble can accomplish much for him…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

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