15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
In Luke’s narrative, Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, exposing the sin of judgmental self-righteousness, while honoring the humble heart that pleases God (Lk. 18:9-14). A real-life illustration now follows, demonstrating the humility required to receive and enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were rebuking people who brought their small children, including infants, to Jesus to be blessed. Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples’ conduct (Mark 10:13-14). The kingdom of God is composed of those with the innocent humility of children (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). Not only does this passage destroy the false doctrine of inheriting original sin, it also establishes the heart condition one must have to be saved. The Lord will not bless the arrogant, self-righteous person with redemption. Be careful with what heart you try to follow Jesus. It is the one with the heart of a child who receives the kingdom, and hence, the Lord’s eternal blessing.
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1–2, NKJV)
Nicodemus had heard the teachings of Jesus, and he had apparently seen some of His miracles (or their effects). From this, Nicodemus rightly concluded that Jesus had come from God, and that God was with him. From the context, we are not amiss to conclude that Nicodemus was an early believer (John 2:23). He was a Pharisee, and a ruler of the Jews (John 7:50). This indicates the influence of Jesus’ words and deeds was already beginning to reach the upper echelons of Jewish power. Although this night visit implies an element of fear on the part of Nicodemus, it also shows him acting on the conclusion he drew from the words and signs of Jesus. He did not withdraw from Jesus, criticize Him, or obstruct His work. This “teacher of Israel” went directly to Jesus to investigate for himself. We must never allow our place in society, our degree of education, or the authority we hold over others to prevent a humble investigation of Christ and His gospel. Pride would have prevented this night visit. Is pride keeping you from going to Jesus, learning from Him, and following His word? Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3, NKJV)
Speaking God’s word in order to address the spiritual needs of men and women is an action of divine grace. And, that truth applies “to everyone who is among you” – divine truth knows no partiality. Therefore, we are warned against a conceited, arrogant frame of mind toward God’s truth. Arrogance prevents the wisdom of sound judgment. Truly, arrogance is an attribute of the fool, who prideful trusts in his own reasoning: “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Prov. 18:2). Faith produces humility toward God’s truth, not hubris. Faith does not argue against God’s truth; it accepts it. Faith does not elevate human reasoning; it submits to the infinitely superior will of God. The word “soberly” in today’s text means “to be in one’s right mind” (Thayer, 612-613). When a Christian is arrogant, he is not in his right mind. We must have the mind of Christ (humble and obedient) – not the conceited mind of the world (Phil. 2:5-8).
A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident. (Proverbs 14:16, NKJV)
Confidence is an admirable trait when it is governed by God’s truth, by godly fear and by an aversion to evil. But, remove the restraints of humility and caution toward sin, and self-confidence becomes one’s undoing. The rage that characterizes a fool describes acting arrogantly in defiance of truth and wisdom. It is foolish to become comfortable with error and self-confident toward sin. Self-confidence conditions the heart to place more trust in oneself than in God and His truth. Wisdom teaches us to fear sin and its effects in our lives and the lives of others. We must “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). It is utterly foolish to resist God and His will; such self-confidence leads to eternal ruin (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
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,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10, NKJV)
How much conflict could be averted if humility filled the human heart? Pride prevents us from seeking godly advice. Pride, because it has a swollen estimation of self, easily deflects wise counsel and rushes headlong into the fray, sure it is right. The result is strife, contention, turmoil. Pride is a scourge upon the soul and all who encounter it. Let us work to eliminate personal pride and replace it with a humble spirit that will benefit our homes, our churches, our businesses, our country – our souls.
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–4, NKJV)
Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is not defined by prominence above others, or by power over others, or by preference before others. Greatness is defined by humility, such as is seen in a little child. By these words, Jesus thoroughly rejects the notion that we are born with a “sin nature,” a corruption that originated in Adam and is transmitted through his progeny to all of humanity. If we must “be converted and become as little children,” then little children do not possess corrupt hearts. Otherwise, Jesus’ analogy is meaningless. The child stands as the prototype for greatness in the kingdom. Those who are great in the kingdom are not driven by a sin nature. Like children, they are driven by the innocence of humility. Any doctrine that corrupts the innocence and humility of children before God and mankind is false and deplorable error.
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12, NKJV)
No human being is right all the time. Yet, conceit prevents us from seeing and admitting our errors and shortcomings. Relying upon self-affirming and self-elevating “wisdom” instead of God’s truth is beyond foolishness. Pride is self-defeating, elevating oneself above truth. A prideful heart rejects godly wisdom. Such a person has already made up his mind; He cannot be wrong. Let us not set and hold a high opinion of ourselves. Let us trust God and rely upon the wisdom He has revealed in His word.
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth. 5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. 6 Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. (Psalm 138:4–6, NKJV)
Great is the temptation for the rulers of men to unduly exalt themselves. The great Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar dramatically learned that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:32, 28-35). Wise rulers bow before Almighty God with reverent acknowledgement and praise. They listen to His word, being guided by divine counsel. Thus, humble kings are regarded on high, but arrogant leaders are not given an audience before God. You and I are not kings, yet most of us have some sphere of responsibility toward others – perhaps as a parent or a business owner, a manager or a teacher, etc. Do not allow your position of authority over others lead you to act out of pride. Remember, you have a Master in heaven (Col. 4:1). Be humble in all your dealings with men, and so be humble before God. He will exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:6).
5 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.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7, NKJV)
Humility shows itself through submission. It is the proud of heart who always knows better, does better and is better than everyone else (or at least, in his or her own eyes). We will not show proper humility toward others until we are first humble toward God. We must submit ourselves to His power, to His time and trust His constant care for us. It takes humble faith to trust the Lord’s way instead of our own. Submit your will to the Almighty and clothe yourself with humility. God will exalt the humble one, whose submissive life readily serves God and others.