SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY
19TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
OCTOBER 20, 2019.
Title: “Humility Leads to Happiness”
Text: “Blessed (Happy) are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:7).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12.
We all have heard of D. L. Moody. D.L. Moody was the most famous evangelist in the world in the late 1800s. People came from around the world to attend his Bible Conferences in Northfield, Massachusetts. One year a large group of pastors from Europe were among the attendees. They were given rooms in the dormitory of the Bible school. As was the custom in Europe, the men put their shoes outside the door of their room, expecting them to be cleaned and polished by servants during the night.
Of course there were no servants in the American dorm, but as Moody was walking through the halls and praying for his guests, he saw the shoes and realized what had happened. He mentioned the problem to a few of his students, but none of them offered to help. Without another word, the great evangelist gathered up the shoes and took them back to his own room where he began to clean and polish each pair. Moody told no one what he had done, but a friend who interrupted him in the middle of shining the shoes and helped him finish the task later told the story of what had happened. Despite the praise and fame he received because of God’s blessing on his life and ministry, Moody remained a humble man. Because of this, D. L. Moody was a happy man.
Name eight things that would make you happy. If God said to you on this third Sunday in October, “Choose eight things that would make your week a happy one and I will give them to you,” what would you choose?
Would you choose to be “poor in spirit”? Would you choose things such as mourning, meekness, hunger and thirst, being merciful, being pure in heart, being a peacemaker, or experiencing persecution? Do you think these eight things would make you happy? Jesus seems to think so.
Before you conclude that Jesus is wrong, consider the antithesis of these qualities: characteristics such as pride, pleasure-seeking, aggressiveness, compromising, impurity, cruelty, and hatred. You could not be happy with these characteristics, could you? Of course not! Therefore consider the eight Beatitudes as eight steps to happiness.
Humility is the way to happiness. In Matthew 5:3 when Jesus spoke of being “poor in spirit,” he was referring to our recognition of both our spiritual neediness and the means that can supply our needs. This poverty of spirit results in our discovery of God’s kingdom. People who are “poor in spirit” do not boast of their attainments or talents because they know they have nothing that has not been given to them.
Why is humility the way to happiness?
The first answer to this question is humility enables you to be honest about yourself. When Jesus spoke of being “poor in spirit,” he did not imply that being wealthy is wrong. Money can be handled in a Christian manner or in a nonChristian manner. Success and prosperity can lead a person to be self-satisfied and proud. Yet poverty can drive a person to dishonesty. Jesus did not teach that the poor are spiritually superior. Not money but “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Jesus declared that if you want to be happy, you must be aware of your spiritual poverty. No picture is more pathetic than that of a person who has a great need and is unaware of it. Do you remember Samson standing in the valley of Sorek? He was surrounded by Philistines: “But he did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20 NIV).
Poverty in spirit is the beginning of happiness. It is an admission that you are nothing without Christ. This admission is always followed by the Lord’s flooding one’s life with the riches of his mercy and grace. To be “poor in spirit” is to be honest about yourself, and this is the way to happiness.
Secondly, humility is the way to happiness because humility impels you to commit your full potential to God. William Barclay conclude that “Blessed are the poor in spirit” means blessed are those who have realized their own helplessness and who have placed their complete trust in the Lord. After you have done this, you will become detached from things and attached to God. You will commit your full potential to God’s will. The boy who came to hear Jesus teach illustrates this commandment. He took all the food he had and turned it over to Jesus (John 6:9)
Once you are willing to do this, you will be amazed at what Christ can do with what you have to offer. Andrew asked what we are so often tempted to ask, “But what are they among so many?” In his own hands, the boy’s lunch was hardly enough to satisfy one lad’s hunger. But in Jesus’ hands, the small meal became enough to feed more than five thousand people! Never underestimate what God can do with your loaves and two fish. The moment you commit all that you have to Christ, the impossible begins to happen!
Poverty that produces happiness is poverty of the spirit. Total submission to God’s will is always best, and humility is the way to happiness because it implies you to commit your full potential to God’s will.
On a third note, humility prepares you to be filled with the Holy Spirit. No proud soul can be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit, for a life filled with pride has no room for him. Those who are unwilling to be controlled by the Holy Spirit are controlled by selfish ambition. Therefore the Lord said that we must become like little children before we enter the kingdom of heaven. Children depend on their parents. Because they are their parents’ children, they are not really poor. As God’s children, we are dependent on him. Children spend little time worrying about what they will eat, what they will wear, or where they will sleep. They simply assume that their needs will be met by their parents.
Our heavenly Father is responsible for our care. We are told to cast our cares on him because he cares for us. Jesus also said to his disciples, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (LUKE 11:11-13 NIV). The “poor in spirit” know they are poor in spirit. They know they can do and can be nothing apart from the indwelling Spirit of God. Those who find happiness through humility allow the Holy Spirit to fill them.
Humility that enables you to be honest with yourself, that impels you to commit your full potential to God, and prepares you to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the way to happiness.
The first beacon of the Eddystone lighthouse off the coast of Plymouth, England, as placed there over two hundred years ago to warn ships of the dangerous reefs. Henry Winstanley, the architect who built it, was so confident of its strength that he had written on the cornerstone, “Blow, O Ye Winds!Rise, O Ocean! Break Forth, Ye Elements, and Try My Work! Those were foolish words, for less than three years later, a raging storm destroyed the lighthouse, along with Winstanley and others who were making repairs on it at the time.
Years later, John Smeaton, an early leader in civil engineering, rebuilt it. He found a new cornerstone revealed” Except the Lord Build the House, they Labor in Vain That Build it!” For over ninety years it has stood every test. It was founded on a rock!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and King of Heaven, had the right to honor, praise, and worship. Yet to be our Saviour, He laid all of His privileges aside and became a lowly servant. We often hear people talk of living as Jesus lived, and while He truly is the model for us to follow, many who speak of following Him are unwilling to give up their rights and reflect His humility. We will never be like Jesus unless we are humble and lowly. “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.”—Proverbs 3:34 Do you want the kingdom of heaven now? Then dig deeply and build your life on the foundation of humility, because it is the way to happiness!