In a world that's fraught with escalating tension, sometimes it feels like we'll never restore peace. In the last few years, we've witnessed brutal aggression of one army against another, the horrific damage caused by a hurricane, and of course, the devastating losses caused by COVID-19. In his final study, which was delivered at the peak of the pandemic, Chuck reminds us that even in adversity, God can help us cultivate a priceless virtue.
These are such unusual times, our Father. We recognize and realize that you are in our midst, you are working in and through these times, though we cannot predict the ending of a virus like this, we certainly can rely on you during the time we are in the midst of it. We remember those who have lost family members, loved ones, friends, those who are hospitalized, suffering from it, those who have just been found that they carry this virus and are dealing with the news.
And on and on the list goes, not just in our community or in our area of this state, or even in our own country, but around this world, our help comes from you, O God. Without you, there is no help. There is no recovery. There is no healing. There is no cure.
There is no hope. You hold all of that, and we rely upon you to provide all that we need. I rely on you this morning to speak through me and use these words that you have led me to prepare to reach the lives of those people I've never known, hearts I've never touched before, you're able to reach and you're able to touch.
And these as well who gather in this place where we worship. Open us to hear what you have to say and give us extremely sensitive minds, even to hear what isn't said, that we might not miss any of your message. For this is the time when you deliver unique messages which we must not miss. Thank you for the privilege of giving and we pray you will use our gifts as we close this service and depart, especially use them for our church's needs. And beyond that, for those about us, beyond these walls, off this property and into the community, where the needs are enormous. Give us generous hearts these days, our Father, as we hold all things loosely. We rely on you for it and we trust you. These things we pray in the name of Jesus and for his sake alone.
Everyone said, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash hope. And now the message from Chuck titled, When Adversity Leads to Humility. The more I study Christ, and it's been a lifetime of study, the more one characteristic stands out above all the others. And there were many that were magnificent about the ministry and life of Christ.
But the one that stands out and that must have impacted his times more than any other, in my opinion, is his humility. My Bible is open to Philippians 2, verse 3. Paul writes, the New Living Translation reads, Don't be selfish. Don't try to impress others. Be humble. Thinking of others is better than yourselves.
Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Romans 12 goes even deeper, and I'd like you to go there next. We often think of Romans as a great doctrinal book, and it certainly is that. But when you get to chapter 12, it becomes very earthy, very realistic, very practical. I'm looking at Romans 12, beginning at verse 7.
So locate that. Again, from the New Living, if your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you're a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously.
If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. If you have a gift of showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don't just pretend to love others.
Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
And he goes back again. Love each other with genuine affection. Take delight in honoring each other. When you do the Lord's work, the Lord's way, these are characteristics of how you carry that out. Continuing verse 11, never be lazy, but work hard. Serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. He continues, when God's people are in need, be ready to help. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Even goes further, bless those who persecute you.
Why? Because that's what Jesus did. That's the Christ way. When you live for Christ, that's how you carry out your life. Don't curse them.
That's what you do in the energy of the flesh. Pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. I love the way that reads.
And back to Schaeffer's book. No small people. There are no little people or big people. We're all sheep. See, you manipulate when you operate in the energy of the flesh. You manipulate when you are doing it your way. You get bossy. You take over. It's important that you come out on top. But when you do it Christ's way, when you do it the Lord's work and the Lord's way, you don't do it like that.
He goes on, love from the center of who you are. Don't fake it. Get along with each other. Don't be stuck up.
Make friends with nobodies. Don't be the great somebody. You know, it's easy to come across as a believer, as holier than thou, especially when you're in a group that's not holy.
It's easy to come across as a know-it-all when you're in a gathering of people who don't know a lot and you know a lot. But when you do it God's way, like Christ did it, you don't find delight in doing that. In fact, you resist that.
Don't feel you have to set anyone straight. There'll be a time and a place when that could be appropriate. And when it's there, then in humility, you may be able to suggest some things that might help the individual. But when you operate like Christ and when you do the work of God, Christ's way, you do it with humility. It isn't a phony humility. Few things are worse than phony humility.
It just stinks. But when it's real, it just disarms people, especially when they don't expect it. And whoever expected it from Christ, as magnificent as he was and as pristine as his past had been, if you could call his life past, since he's always existed, but having a record like no one else who has ever existed had. If there was anyone who had at least a semblance of reason to strut his stuff, it was he. But he didn't. He did not come to be served.
But listen to this. He came to serve and to give. Two great verbs, two great actions. And throughout his life, you can check it, he's serving and he's giving. Now we're ready for John 13. Turn there. It's a scene that has become familiar to all of us because it's the Last Supper.
However, the familiarity may have bred a little oversight because there's so much here that is easy to miss. They've come together to celebrate the Passover meal. Jesus knew that his hour had come, verse one tells us, meaning the arrest and the trial were near and his crucifixion was only one night away. Next day, he's nailed to a cross. He knows the hour has come.
This is it. We're also told by John, who was there in the midst of the 12, that he loved them throughout his training of them. In fact, we read that he loved them, the end of verse one, to the very end. You could render that to the end of their lives or to the end of his life.
I think there's more to that than to the end would suggest. I think it means he loved them to the uttermost. We could say in slang of today, he loved them to the max.
There was no condition in his love. He loved each one of them, each one of the 12. He loved them equally. He loved them deeply, consistently, sacrificially.
He loved them all, and John, in writing this, as he looks back over the years, since John is the last of the gospel writers to write, he remembers, as he thinks back over those decades of time, he remembers this supper and some things stand out. Now, something significant happened as they were at the table. Before I go further, let me explain the table. Tables in those days were low-lying tables. You ate reclining on the floor. You didn't sit in a chair.
You literally were on your side. I thought about illustrating this, but I'd never get up, so I'll just lean over on an elbow and have you imagine that. They had pillows, they had cushions, and they rested on an elbow and they ate with their hands.
There weren't utensils. They ate from the meal the lamb, the kharosheth, the dip, and on and on the meal went. So they're reclining at the table and each person's body is alongside the back of the other one as they're reclining around the table.
You get the picture? They're all reclining. They're all on the floor. We read, I don't want to go too fast here because I want you to get the picture in your mind. We read literally verse two says, during supper, literally as supper was taking place. So he's not finished with his meal, nor are they. They're in the midst of talk and all that goes with that as you do at a meal.
And what do we read? Verse four, he got up from the table. Literally, he rose out from the supper. So he pushed back. He slid back from the table. He pushed up with his arm and he stood up straight. He rose up.
They're all reclining. They had no idea what he was doing, what he needed to do. Maybe he was going to get water. Maybe he was going to step aside for a few moments, but he just rose up, didn't say anything.
He got up from supper. Now when I read that, I ask, why? Don't you do that? Why did he do that? And why then? Why during the meal?
In fact, we read that he, when he stood up, he disrobed, took off his outer robe, got a towel that was over by the base, and he wrapped himself in the towel so he'd have it handy, had a pitcher with water in it, got a large bowl called here a mason, poured the water in the bowl, and then he snooped down and we read, he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around them, verse 5. Not a word. Why did he do that?
Why then? I think it's because of something that he heard and because of something that he saw. John mentions neither one. Luke mentions what he heard, the implication I'll give to you in a moment, which explains what he saw. Luke tells us what he heard.
According to Luke 22, 24, listen to this. While they were at the table, they were arguing among themselves about who would be greatest among them. Did you know that? Has anyone ever told you that?
I never had anyone tell me that. So at the table, there was an argument that broke out among the 12 as to which one was, would be the greatest. He heard that. He heard the arguing which stemmed from their pride.
You argue over those things when you're proud of yourself or you're comparing yourself with others, which again is an act of pride, especially when your motive is to come out the greatest. And what did he see? Well, he saw that their feet were dirty. Now, what's so unusual about that? Well, they should have been clean.
Let me explain. This is back in the day before there were paved roads and before the trails had hard surface. In dry weather, the dust and the dirt on the road and the trails would be ankle deep. And because you wore sandals, no socks, your feet would really get filthy. It was the common thing then and still it's common when you are in the Far East to kick off your sandals when you come to the door. And what normally done, the host at the banquet or the meal that's being served would provide a servant at the door who would then.
Wash your feet before you went inside the house so that you would go in with clean feet. Now, if there was no servant on duty, certainly there wasn't, since this is no special banquet. This is a meal among friends.
13 of these people are getting together. So in those cases, the gracious thing to do and the humble thing to do is that one person would appoint himself as the servant at the entrance door. And would stoop as people came in, sandals are kicked off and he would wash each of their feet and then his before he would come in all coming in with clean feet. But they have all come in with dirty feet. It's interesting to me that they were ready to occupy a throne with authority, but nobody wrestled over the towel to serve anyone else.
I want to stop here and offer four. Let's call them principles for ministry that have to do with humility. They're all seen and what transpires. First, humility is unannounced.
It's unannounced. As soon as humility is announced, it's pride. You're showing off. But Jesus stood up and without a word prepared himself to wash their feet. He didn't stand up and say, I am now going to illustrate a lesson you need to learn.
You will witness humility in action. He doesn't do that. Stephen sounds stupid to say that. He stands up.
Not a word. And prepares himself to wash their feet. Before I go on during this lengthy COVID-19 valley we've walked through, a lot of emphasis has been placed on those who are at risk. I'll get to that in just a moment. But keep that in mind because it ties in with the second principle.
That humility is being willing to receive without embarrassment or resentment. See, no word was said. I think some of them kept arguing and realized their feet were being washed and probably toned down. But when he got to Peter, all of a sudden there was a mild explosion. Look at verse five, verse six. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, he said, Lord, my feet, you're going to wash? The way it's written in the original puts the pronouns together and when they're in juxtapositions for the purpose of contrast.
You, my feet, are going to wash? Now, I don't want to read more into it than is here, but I really think that there was a statement of embarrassed pride. He wanted to come across as humility. It could have sounded like it, but the resistance kept it from being humble. In fact, it leads to his response. Jesus said, you don't understand what I'm doing.
Someday you will. Peter protested. No. Stop. Don't touch my feet.
I can wash my own feet. You can see him tucking his feet on his soul like Peter. In fact, don't miss the principle. Humility is being willing to receive without embarrassment or resistance. That's humility. In this final study in his 12-part series, Chuck Swindoll is talking about clinging to hope when adversity leads to humility. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, there's much more practical application ahead, so let me encourage you to join us again next time when Insight for Living features the conclusion to this new series.
It's called Clinging to Hope. Chuck's book by the same title has become one of the most popular options of the year for our listening family. If you've had good intentions of ordering a copy, today's the day to get in touch. In his book, Chuck will help you answer questions such as, why is there so much suffering in the world?
How do I recover when an emotional bulldozer has demolished my life? And where can I find genuine hope when everything seems hopeless? Again, the title of the book is Clinging to Hope. It's written in a credible style that you've come to expect from Chuck. No empty platitudes, just solid biblical encouragement.
You know, it's the perfect book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who's asking those same questions. To purchase a copy of Clinging to Hope, go to insight.org slash hope. Or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As you would imagine, our world is filled with people who are desperately searching for a lifeline. And we make it our mission to send these daily programs far and wide so people understand how God wants to rescue them.
In fact, Insight for Living is translated into eight additional languages besides English, expanding our audience in parts of the world where Bible teaching is rare. So thanks so much for remembering the critical importance of giving generously to Insight for Living. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
Or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. Take it from Chuck Swindoll, there's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Wide open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them, towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.
God is awesome. Come with us on the Insight for Living Ministries cruise to Alaska, July 1 through July 8, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on His word and His goodness in your life. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll presents his final message in the series Clinging to Hope. Be sure to join us Wednesday to hear Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Adversity Leads to Humility, was copyrighted in 2020 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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