The Way Up Is Down

Posted by Dion Todd February 27th, 2017 2,732 Views 0 Comments

The Way Up Is Down

The Way Up Is Down from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

Today I am going to be talking about something that Jesus taught His disciples: “The way up, is down.” We are going to be reading from the gospel of John chapter 13. On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He and His disciples ate supper in an upper room of someones house. We call it “The last supper” because it was the last supper that Jesus had on earth. Jesus knew what was coming, that this was their last meal together, and He shared some extremely important things with them that night.

Now in those days, when guests traveled, they bathed at home and then went to the dinner, a lot like today. They wore sandals and walked along dusty roads, so their feet would get dirty. When they arrived, a servant would be present with a basin of water and would wash their feet.

On the night of the last supper, the servant was missing, but the water, the basin, and the towels were there. Each of the disciples probably looked at their feet, and at each other, but did nothing about it. Jesus got up from the table, removed His garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. He then poured the water into a basin, washed each of the disciples feet, and dried them with the towel around His waist as if He were a servant. We will pick it up in verse 12:

John 13:12–17 (NKJV) So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus became the Servant, and He washed all of their feet that night. It was the pattern of the life of Jesus. He was born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough. Jesus did not measure a person’s status by their possessions. As far as we know, He never owned a house. Jesus told people to follow Him, not because He was a great teacher, or a miracle worker, or that He was the Son of God, but because He was gentle and lowly.

Matthew 11:28–30 (NKJV) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The very top man of God’s kingdom was also the most humble, the Servant of all. That is the direct opposite of the world that we live in. It is an upside down formula. The way up in the kingdom of God, is down in the status of men. Jesus taught the disciples this repeatedly.

Mark 9:33–35 (NKJV) Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

The disciples were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. Jesus explained that the greatest would have the heart of a servant. Jesus was the Greatest, and He was the Servant of all. When the Holy Spirit came, It began to sink in. When you examine the gospels, each person omits themselves or places themselves beneath the others in the story.

- The disciple Matthew wrote the gospel of Matthew and rarely mentions himself. When he does it is as “Matthew the tax collector” or “the publican.” He tells of the things that Peter and Andrew did. He does not mention the feast that He gave for Jesus at his house.

- Jerome says that the gospel of Mark is built from the life of Peter and was published by his authority, but it always shows Peter’s faults and his mistakes. Mark does not mention Peter walking on the water, but goes into full detail of him denying Jesus three times. Peter put himself down, and lifted others up.

- Luke the physician wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, but he didn’t talk about himself in either book. He keeps out of sight.

- John mentions himself always under the expression—“the disciple whom Jesus loved.” None of the four men whom history and tradition assert to be the authors of the gospels, lay claim to the authorship in their writings.

The polar opposite of humility is pride. Here is what pride and humility in the Bible mean to me:

Biblical Humility: means a modest or low view of your own importance. Putting others equal or above yourself. Being submissive to, and depending on God. It conveys: modesty, humbleness, meekness, unassertiveness, lack of vanity, submissiveness. It deflates your ego.

Biblical Pride: is an overly inflated sense of one’s own worth or personal status. It typically makes one feel a sense of superiority over others, and will cause you to look down on them. At the top, it brings a desire of independence from God or equality with Him. It inflates your ego.

The first sin was not in the garden of Eden, it was when lucifer was lifted up in pride and desired to be equal with God. See satan is a created being, just like us. He was in heaven, and as I understand it, he was probably the praise and worship leader. He became lifted up in pride because of his great beauty and desired to be like God, then him and a third of the angels were cast out of heaven. Though this scripture is speaking of the king of tyre, it is referring to the fall of luficer, satan, the devil.

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.

You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.

Compare that to Isaiah 14:12–15 (NKJV) “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”

When lucifer was lifted up in pride, tried to exalt himself and be like the Most High, he led a third of the angels in a revolt, they were cast out of heaven and at the end, they will be cast into a lake of fire. Many believe that God rules the heavens, and satan rules hell, but actually he will be held there as an eternal prisoner, not as a ruler. Even hell is under God’s control. That is covered in Revelation 20:10 and Matthew 25:41.

The original sin was pride. Later in the garden of Eden, satan told Eve that she could be like God in Genesis 3:5. It was the same thing that appealed to him, and it appealed to her.

Enough about pride, lets look at the results of true humility. The Bible is full of references about the blessings of humility and the dangers of pride.

Psalm 18:27 (NKJV) “For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.”

Psalm 25:9 (NKJV) “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.”

Psalm 138:6 (NKJV) “Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.”

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV) “The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.”

Proverbs 3:34 (NKJV) “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.”

Proverbs 22:4 (NKJV) “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.”

Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

James 4:6 (NKJV) “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

I hope that you can see by now that humility is good, and pride is bad. Lets look at the effects that it has on people’s lives:

Numbers 12:1–4 (NKJV) Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!”

Moses was the most humble man on the earth, and also the most powerful. So again we have the very top man of God’s kingdom, also being the most humble, the Servant of all.

The miracles that God worked through Moses are amazing, he parted rivers, brought water from rocks and so much more. His brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, became upset with him because they didn’t like who he had married. When they began to speak about His humble servant Moses, God showed up to defend him. If you want God to fight your battles, a key is humility.  

John the baptizer came dressed in a coat of camels hair and preaching repentance. The priests sent men to question him and find out who he was, but John said that he was no one, just a voice in the wilderness.

John 1:19–23 (NKJV) Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ’as the prophet Isaiah said.”

When Jesus spoke of John, He said: For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28). John was humble, did not take credit for himself, pointed everyone to Jesus. Again the very top man of God’s kingdom was also the most humble.

I could go on and on with examples of powerful, humble men of God but that is enough to make my point. Humility and pride have always been a struggle in the universe since the beginning, and you can have one of the other, but you will never have both at the same time.

Like Dwight Moody said: “If humility ever speaks of itself, it is already gone.”

Our default condition is pride and most of the earth is covered in it.

Looking back over my life, and each time that the Lord promoted me, a season of humbling preceded it. Now I want to be clear, the Lord does not humble you. He will provide opportunities for you to choose the humble path, or the path of pride. You will have to make a choice on how you respond. If you humble yourself, the Lord Himself will raise you up.

Don’t pray for the Lord to humble you. If someone else humbles you then it is called humiliation. Only you can humble yourself. We were in a small group meeting one night and while praying in a circle, I heard a brother next to me praying for the Lord to humble him.

He was praying something like: “Lord I just want to be the most humble person. Take all the pride out of me and fill me with humility.”

Now he was doing really well in life, making good money, opening a second business. Everyone loved them and they were big givers at church. Within about three months, his primary business had dried up, the second business was foreclosed on, all of their friends had turned away, everything that he touched seemed to break, and they had to move out of their house. Then they quit going to church and withdrew from everyone. He was completely and utterly humiliated.

I am not saying that God did that, but He certainly allowed it to happen, and no amount of praying, giving, or begging by the group would change their circumstances. We tried everything to help them, but the brother prayed for it, and then he got it. There are better ways to humble yourself that I will soon get to.

Before the Lord put me in my own computer business, I spent about a year in one of the dirtiest jobs that I ever had, polishing brass at minimum wage. Every day I would come home as black as smut and my skin began to turn green from the brass dust. The year before, I had been a supervisor coming home in clean clothes and earning three times as much, but when I began to fast and pray to get closer to the Lord, the supervisor job was the first thing to go.

As I prayed, the Holy Spirit impressed on me that I had become prideful, and inside I knew it was true. At the time I had a new house, a couple of boats, ATVs, about 3 cars and a truck. He began to strip that stuff away and take me back to the basics.

Now I will tell you from experience that God is more concerned about you, than your belongings. Those He can strip away and add back in an instant. He stripped away all of Jobs belongings for a season and then gave him back double. He may do the same to you. He did it to me.

There is a certain ruthlessness to God, and when He is after something in your life, He is like a dentist going after a bad tooth. We can beg Him to stop, and say don’t touch it, but He will keep going until He gets it all out and then things will get better.

At the brass plant, I was given the choice to stick it out or leave, but I could feel the Holy Spirit urging me to stay. He is always on our side and wants the best for us, but we are not forced to be obedient. So I gritted my teeth and stuck it out until the end.

In time, a revival broke out in the plant and several people came to know the Lord. Then He pushed me into my own computer business and began to raise me up. It was crazy anointed and before long, other technicians in the area began calling me for advice. Humbling yourself leads to exaltation, the Lord raising you up in life. Scripture plainly tells us this. Look at this Bible search of the words “humble" and "exalt” together:

For example, Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 23:12 (NKJV) And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I am telling you that it is the truth. It works. I am not saying that it will be fun, but the results of true humility are great.

Right before I became a Pastor, we went to a church workday event and there was a divine opportunity. One of the only jobs left was cleaning all of the rest rooms. Everyone had passed that one by and people were painting, working on the computers, straightening chairs and the like.

I could feel the Holy Spirit giving me a choice. Would I puff up in pride and leave, or humble myself and be the servant? It would have been easy to leave, watching the amateurs working on the computers, while I had twenty years experience in the business. Others were painting, though I had been a painting contractor for years.

I pushed all the prideful “They don’t know who I am” thoughts away, rolled up my sleeves, put my audio Bible on in my head phones and embraced it with a smile. I pretended that I was working directly for Jesus. I scrubbed the floors, walls, doors, sinks, toilets, and urinals until they shined and smelled like lemons.

Then I went to the next bathroom. I did all of the ones upstairs, downstairs, and in the lobby. I found restrooms that I didn’t even know the church had. In the end, I did such a good a job that the church secretary sent us a letter expressing her surprise at our “humility.” A short while later, the Lord pushed me into full time ministry.

Just as the disciples sat in the upper room, unwilling to wash the others feet, there will be times that we will face that same decision. Will we choose to be the servant, or will that be “beneath” us?

How do we humble ourselves?
Now I want to cover the proper way to humble ourselves. The proper way that the Bible tells us to humble ourselves, is through fasting. Humility and fasting go hand in hand.

In Ezra 8:21 he said: Ezra 8:21 (NKJV) “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.” When Ezra needed protection, they humbled themselves with fasting.

In Psalm 35:13 (NKJV) David said: “I humbled myself with fasting.”  David, the mighty man of God humbled himself through fasting.

I cannot explain why it works, but fasting subdues our rebellious nature and makes our bodies obey us, instead of it being our master. It puts our spirit in control, instead of our flesh. It brings the breakthrough.

You don’t have to fast to be humble, but if you are struggling with pride, it is absolutely the best way to overcome it.

- Pride goes before destruction.
- Humility goes before exaltation.
- God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
- Fasting is the biblical way of humbling yourself.

You will be given tests to expose deep rooted pride and offered a lowly servants position. Know that it is the highest honor and the greatest opportunity that you could be given in the kingdom of God. It is your chance to be like Jesus.

If you are willing to be a servant, to humble yourself and do the things that others avoid, then pray this prayer with me:

Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray that You let me see through Your eyes and to spot the servants job clearly when it appears. Speak to me Lord, I am willing to be Your servant. Help me to serve others with a smile and to imitate Jesus in action, and not just in words. Open my eyes to see the areas of my pride in my life and give me the grace to deal with it, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

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