TEXT: 1 Peter 5:5-6; Luke 14:7-11; Proverbs 29:23
The students will be able to define humility and explain why it is necessary in order to gain God’s favor.
Jesus insisted that self-seeking assertiveness defeats its own aim. The way of humility leads to real advancement. It is the “meek” who will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It is the lowly publican, and not the proud Pharisee, who pleases God (Luke 18:9-14). It is the humble who will receive final exaltation (Luke 18:14; Matthew 23:12).
The word humility has several shades of meaning, but the central thought is “lowliness, meekness, modesty, mildness, free from pride.” It is, in essence, the place of entire dependence upon God.
To humble ourselves is a condition of God’s favor (2 Chronicles 7:14) and His supreme requirement (Micah 6:8). God dwells with the humble (Isaiah 57:15). We must humble ourselves not only before God but also in our everyday conduct and dealings with our fellowman.
In the series of lessons for this quarter, we are considering the characteristics of true Christians. Undoubtedly the subject of today’s study, humility, is an excellent place to start. We must have a humble attitude to walk with the Lord. See Isaiah 57:15.
- What is your explanation of the principle developed in James 4:10 and Luke 14:11?
Response: Help the students understand that if they exalt themselves, they will be brought down. On the other hand, if they humble themselves, God will promote them in His own time and way. Encourage your students to list the ways they might be tempted to put themselves forward: such as flattery, seeking a position, or putting someone else down.
- What characteristic, if exhibited, would cause God to resist us? Why? See James 4:6.
Response: Your class should determine that this characteristic would be pride. Also, Proverbs 16:18 reveals that pride is something God hates. It shows the danger of having pride in our lives.
- To what people does God give grace? Why is it important to receive this blessing from God?
Response: God gives grace to the humble. To further explain God’s grace ask your students to read Acts 15:11, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, and Titus 3:7. These Scriptures not only explain but also reveal why it is important for them to receive grace.
- Is this statement true or false? “The thoughts in 1 Peter 5:5 are that young people should advise their elders what to do.” Give a reason for your choice.
Response: This statement is obviously false; the verse states the opposite thought. Your students should bring out in discussion that respect for their elders is not only courtesy but is an aspect of humility. Ask your students to name some specific ways respect can be shown.
- According to our text, what else does Peter tell us to do? How can we do this?
Response: Your class should bring out that Peter tells us to be submissive, subject one to another, and clothed with humility. Help your class to consider the positive effects of obeying the admonition, “all of you be subject one to another.” Then encourage students to cite specific examples of how they can obey this advice.
- The passage of Scripture in Luke 14:7-11 is called a parable, and was certainly good instruction for those who were present. What do you think it might teach us today?
Response: As different members of the class respond, no doubt the thought of place-seeking will be brought out. Help them to consider how doing this is just the opposite of humility.
- The sin of pride is first in the list of sins that God considers abominable (Proverbs 6:16,17). It is believed that Satan was cast out of Heaven because of pride. He wanted to be equal with God (Isaiah 14:12-15). It is no wonder that his children tend to display his nature! Proverbs 29:23 says that a man’s pride shall bring him low. Explain.
Response: Allow students an opportunity to contribute their explanations, summing them up with the explanation that God sees the pride in the heart, even when it might not be clearly obvious to others. He has further stated in Isaiah 2:12 that everyone who is lifted up with pride shall be brought low. The students should recognize that pride is at the bottom of all disobedience and rebellion against God. On the surface this may not seem to be the case, but it is self and self-will that prompts disobedience. To set oneself above others or the law is, in essence, pride.
- Write a paraphrase of Proverbs 16:18.
Response: No doubt your students will bring out the fact that one who thinks he knows it all will be often embarrassed when he discovers that he doesn’t really know as much as he thought he knew. This brings him down, or causes a “fall” in his composure. Your students may mention other ways a person could fall in the eyes of his fellowman, and in the eyes of God. How much better it is to have a humble spirit or attitude.
- Why is it necessary to have humility in order to gain God’s favor?
Response: Establish that salvation is impossible without repentance. Then help your students discuss why true repentance is impossible unless accompanied by humility and contrition. Tie in the example of the Pharisee and publican in Luke 18:10-14.
Liken a Christian’s life to a fire, which requires three elements: fuel, heat, and oxygen. The Christian’s natural abilities are the fuel. The heat is God’s enduement of power on a Christian’s experiences. The oxygen is humility. Show what happens to a fire when the oxygen supply is removed by placing a jar over a lit candle.
Take a balloon to class, using it to illustrate what it means to be “puffed up.” The air inflating it could be paralleled to our thoughts about ourselves—being of little substance, based on nothing. It might also be interesting to point out that the tighter a balloon is blown up, the easier it is to pop.
Bring an inflated balloon and a brick to class. Ask your students: What kind of Christian are you in a pinch? Explain that the two objects represent two people who claim to be Christians. The balloon is the sort of person who talks a lot. We sometimes say he is “full of hot air.” He is filled with self-importance. The brick is a Christian who is as solid as a rock. What he says, he backs up with his life. You can really count on him. Satan comes along and puts some temptation in the path of each. What kind of person comes through in a pinch? The brick (pinch the brick), or balloon (pinch the balloon until it bursts)?
Bring to class two boxes, one fancy (such as a Valentine heart box) but empty, the other plain but filled with a treat for your class. Explain that these boxes represent two people: one who is proud and one who is humble. The beautiful box may look great from the outside, but it is worthless if there is nothing inside. The plain box may not attract much attention, but inside it is full of good things, and thus is the one with true worth.
Use a length of rubber hose (or a straw) to help you illustrate a humble attitude. There is nothing in itself to bless or benefit except when it is used as a channel for something to flow through. When that happens, it fulfills the purpose for which it was intended. It can be used anywhere, anytime, in many ways, (or not used at all) and without complaint on the part of the hose. In a spiritual sense, God’s Spirit works through a humble soul.