Aim Low to Reach Higher #7 in the series
I really like that last quote. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking of yourself less.” As you can tell, today we’re going to be talking about humility. But that puts me in a little bit of a quandary. You see, I can trace my ancestors all the way back to 1710 in Scotland. Knowing that when the opportunity arose, I purchased a small piece of land in Scotland.
We haven’t seen it yet, we’re saving for an extended trip after we retire. But since the purchase, I found out that being a landowner or landholder in Scotland gives me certain privileges. As a landowner I am entitled to be addressed as Laird or Lord in English. I never thought much about it until this past few weeks when I was privileged to be given two different awards.
The first is I was presented with an Honorary Doctorate.
The Quandary is this: When addressing a clergy person with a Doctorate you address them as the Reverend Doctor so and so. But where does Lord fit in? Is it Rev. Lord Dr. or Rev. Dr. Lord. I just want to get it right for my new letterhead. But even that was complicated by the second honor I received. It seems that The Saint Drogo Monastic Order has declared me a Saint.
Saint Billy the Pretty Good. So, does Saint take precedent over all the other titles? Is it Rev. Saint? Rev. Doctor Saint. And where does Lord fit into all of that mess?
I hope you don’t think I’m serious. Yes, I DO own a small piece of land in Scotland, a very small part. The deed says, it is “one foot by one foot.” It’s all part of helping a game preserve and wildlife area in Scotland. Being able to call myself Lord is legally just as bogus as my Doctorate and Sainthood.
I found a place online where you can be ordained for $5; receive your Doctor of Divinity for $30 and be declared a Saint for $10. You can even become a Doctor of Immortality or Doctor of the Universe for the same $30. That’s pretty cheap, but I decided to go even cheaper. I just made up my own. Texas Methodist University is the made up University from the movie and TV show Friday Night Lights. And Jerome Horowitz was the real name of Curly from the Three Stooges.
Before we start talking about Humility, especially after that, I think we should pray.
Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)
 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.
 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.
 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”
 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I want to focus on verse 16: “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.”
Joking about the fake Doctorate is one thing, I didn’t earn it. But I am very proud of the fact that I’m the first one in my family, actually the only one in my family who ever graduated from college. I’m the only one who has a Master’s Degree. My little brother has an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering. But no one else in my immediate family even went to college. Does that make me better than them? No, it doesn’t.
However, I do think that a good education is one of the most important things we can give our children. But even more important, I think, is giving them a sense of humility. And that sense of humility begins with a relationship with God.
I. THE FOCUS OF HUMILITY IS GOD:
The Focus of Humility is God. The very first words of God’s Story and the story of our relationship with God tell us that God is the Creator and we are the created. When the source and focus of our humility is God, then we don’t get in the way of what God can do.
I remember a story I read years ago about a new member of British Parliament who took his eight-year-old daughter on a tour of London. One of the places they visited was Westminster Abbey. The little girl seemed awestruck by the size and beauty of the building.
Seeing the wonder in her eyes her father asked, “What are you thinking about, right now?”
And his daughter answered, “I was thinking about how big you are in our house but how small you look here!”
When we stand before our Creator; when we stand before the throne of God we see how small and insignificant we really are. And it humbles us because as insignificant as we are, God loves us as a parent loves any child. God loves us. And that love makes us humble. Humility comes when we know who we are. We are children of God. Equality with God is not something to be grasped. We are created in the image of God. We are not God.
Humility is the key to God’s heart. It unlocks God’s mercy and love and helps us maintain our focus.
II. THE ROOT OF HUMILITY IS THANKFULNESS:
The Root of Humility Is Thankfulness. When we’re SELF centered we think the whole world revolves around us. When we are God Centered and Thankful it permeates every aspect of our lives and it gives our lives meaning and purpose.
Although he thinks differently, Kenny Sailors is credited with the invention of the jump shot in basketball. If not the invention, then the first to do it and perfect it. He shot his jump shot in Madison Square Garden, on January 3, 1946. Two weeks later on January 21, 1946, a photo and the story came out in Life Magazine.
The Photo Caption on page 85 read: “Guard Kenny Sailors of Wyoming Jumps and Shoots To Make Score 21-16. He Scored Seven Field Goals and One Free Throw,
a Total of 15 Points”
An excerpt from the LIFE story on this game reads: . . . . “A fortnight ago the Wyoming Cowboys made a long trek east and defeated Long Island University before a crowd of 18,056 . . . . using the expert ball control of Milo Komenich . . . and the fast, smooth dribble and the accurate jump shots of Kenny Sailors (above), the Cowboys went on to win 57-42”
In “The Origins of the Jump Shot,” (University of Nebraska Press, 1999, pp. 205-206) author John Christgau wrote, “Discharged from the Marines in late 1945, Kenny . . . within days . . . found himself in Madison Square Garden again. One shot by Kenny Sailors . . . remains historic . . . . He had stolen a pass and then raced down the left side of the floor . . . . At the top of the key, he cut to his right and then stopped suddenly and jumped. Courtside spectators in folding chairs watched as he seemed to rise up into the scoreboard . . . . Now, at the peak of his jump and hanging-in-the-air in Madison Square Garden, he drew a bead on the basket . . . . Just before he dropped his left hand away to release the shot, a photographer’s flashbulb exploded silently. To the 18,056 fans who were watching, the flashbulb explosion seemed to freeze Kenny Sailors in the air, while beneath him men as floor-bound as statuary looked up in awe. Two weeks later Life Magazine ran a photo story of the game . . . . millions of young players saw that picture of Kenny’s jump shot in Life, and that . . . began a chain reaction in basketball . . . . Everywhere young players on basketball courts began jumping to shoot.”
He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 at the age of 91. His innovative tactic led him to a pro career in the NBA, where he found fame and success. But along the way, Kenny learned there are more important things in life than sports. “The Lord gives you strength that you don’t even know where it comes from, he just gives you the strength to go through most anything. As an old man many years of age, I’ve experienced much in my lifetime and all of it wasn’t good and certainly all of it wasn’t bad, but one thing that has stood the test of time is God. He has satisfied me in a way that all the fame and success could never do. Nothing does compare with my experience with Christ and the life that I’ve had in him. There’s nothing in this world that could even come close to it.
I’m not in the Hall of Fame. . . but I know I belong to the greatest hall of fame that any man or woman can every want to and when you belong to that and you know you belong to it, you don’t worry about these Hall of Fame that men create down here, it don’t mean that much to you.
Like Basketball great Ken Sailors, when our lives are God Centered and Thankful, that thankfulness and the humility it generates permeates every aspect of our lives. It gives our lives meaning and purpose. Thankfulness reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. It reminds us of God’s mercy and grace.
III. THE POWER OF HUMILITY IS CHRIST:
A. Finally, the Power of Humility Is Christ. Jesus fuels our Humility both by example and through the power of His presence with us every day through the Holy Spirit.
John Brodie, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was once asked why a superstar like himself should have to hold the ball for field goals and points after touchdown. “Well,” said Brodie, “if I didn’t, the ball would fall over.”
Personally I think it’s the same thing with us. No matter how important we are; No matter how many degrees we have (both earned and fake); no matter how powerful we are or how smart we are, we’d all fall over if it weren’t for Christ holding us up. He is both our example and the source of our humility. Without Jesus, we’re in deep weeds. With Jesus, we’re in tall cotton. He is our example and guide.
B. Years ago in Emphasis Magazine there was an article about the 1998, Art and Auction magazine which listed Gil Perez as one of the fifty most powerful people in the art world.
When Christies, the world- famous auction house, opened their new home at Rockefeller Center, in 2000, Mr. Perez was on hand and he was the only attendee to receive a standing ovation, even though Mayor Giuliani and the chairman of Christies were also present. All of that notoriety is a little surprising when you consider that Gil Perez is Christies’ doorman.
For over thirty years, Mr. Perez has opened doors, helped with packages, and hailed taxis for celebrities and art collectors from around the world. He made it his business to know each customer by name, and the art world loved him for his efforts. His humility and his servant heart touched them all.
Sometimes the most powerful people are found in the most unexpected places, sometimes it’s the front door of an auction house. Sometimes it’s a stable in Bethlehem or a cross in Jerusalem. And sometimes, when we try to live as Jesus taught, when we try to live and BE like Jesus, people are able to see Him in us. Jesus fuels our Humility both by example and through the power of His presence.
Christian Humility is not cowardice. It is not a summons to be a doormat. It’s not about thinking less of ourselves. Rather it is an invitation to think more of Christ, more of God, more of others, than ourselves. It’s an invitation to work behind the scenes in the Kingdom Business. It’s an invitation to lead from the knees. It’s an invitation to part of a work greater than any of us could ever accomplish on our own. It is an invitation to Aim Low so we can Reach Higher in our Service to God.
It’s an invitation to become like Christ and like Christ to trust God whose strength will never fail.
Aim Low to Reach Higher. Aim for Humility.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.