Question: Are we humble in success?
Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,
19 “serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;
20 “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,
In summary, Paul calls the Ephesians Elders to Miletus. He reminds them of his manner of life among them: his humbleness, his trials, his full and pervasive teaching.
The thing that stands out to me in this passage is Paul’s humbleness. The blue letter Bible app defines this Greek word translated “humility” as follows:
Outline of Biblical Usage:
the having a humble opinion of one’s self;
a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness;
modesty, humility, lowliness of mind
KJV Translation Count:
humility 3, humbleness of mind 1, humility of mind 1, lowliness 1, lowliness of mind 1
Humility is something missing in our culture, especially with our youth. I have three sports figures in my mind. The first one that comes to mind is an American football player. After making a great play, while the camera is peering on him, he points with pride to his name on the back of his jersey – definitely not humble. The second player that comes to mind is a soccer player who scores a great goal, and while all eyes are on him, he pats with pride the team logo on his chest over his heart. This is better than the first, at least this one is proclaiming to play for his club and team and not all for himself. The one I like the best is the third one. A soccer player who scores a great goal, and he points not to his own name, not to his club patch, but he points upward – yes to God!!! He deflects all the attention from himself to his creator who gave him the athletic ability, the desire to work, and the privilege to play the game.
I think this is what Paul is saying to the Ephesian elders. Paul’s ministry had great success in Ephesus, but the first thing he says to the elders is that he lived among them humbly. How about us, are we humble? Why should we be humble?
Why should we be humble?
Our sin should keep us humble. Do you remember how you were before your conversion to Christ? Certainly there was nothing to be proud of in those days. Paul was humbled by his past. He puts it this way. 1 Cor 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Even our current sin should keep us humble. Yes, His Spirit is changing us to be more like Christ day by day, but we still sin. Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
The trials we have endured
For young people, trials may be difficult to understand, but for us adults, we know how trials have humbled us. Paul experienced persecution, but for us our trials most likely have come through financial, health, or relationship problems. If you have been through one of these painful situations, then you know how these events have humbled you. Paul says it like this…
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Our dependence upon Christ
In my early Christian life, I felt like salvation of others was totally dependent upon me – the words I chose – a complete gospel presentation – my prayers for them. But now I see that for someone to come to Christ, the Spirit of God must be at work. Yes we still need to share the gospel with others and pray for their soul, but the Holy Spirit must do His life giving work. He must work in us, our spouse, our children, and in those with whom we share the gospel. God must work, and to me this is humbling. Our life is dependent upon him, and our service to others is totally dependent upon Him working.
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Acts16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
1 Corinthians 3:6,7 (NKJV)
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Are you having success in your life or service for God, then be like that third soccer player, point to God above, for everything is by Him and for Him and for His glory.
God bless, Bob