Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

January 7, 2021

15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.” 18 Then, along with many other exhortations, he proclaimed good news to the people. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to everything else​—​he locked up John in prison.

Luke 3:15-20

Written by Jim Cumbee from the Brentwood Campus

Have you ever received credit for something you didn’t do? One day I gave a presentation to a group of business owners. During the Q&A, a guy said some nice things about work I had done for his son a few years earlier. The guy was really over the top in his praise. When he finished his comments, I thanked him but pointed out that most of the work had been done by a colleague in my firm. Afterwards, a lady came up and thanked me for my humility. But I explained that I wasn’t being humble—I was just being honest. I didn’t deserve the praise the guy had given me.

Looking back on that situation, I could have easily just accepted the nice things the guy was saying and moved on. But that’s not to imply I have humility figured out. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In the ‘70s, Mac Davis wrote a popular country song that included the phrase, “Oh lord, it’s hard to be humble….” It was a funny song, but he had a serious point. Humility doesn’t come naturally.

I marvel at John’s humility during this fascinating story in Luke 3. I mean, seriously, how easy would it have been for John to suddenly say, “You people are right; I am your Messiah” and then move on to a life of power and glory? Truth is, it’s natural to want glory, to want praise, to want adoration. It’s man’s sinful nature. We want to be like God, but only He deserves glory, praise and adoration.

God’s Word includes dozens of references to humility, if not hundreds. I love Psalm 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” And of course, that concept is reiterated in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.”

There is value in humility. As we see with John, humility is the starting point for us to make our life a witness for Jesus Christ. John’s simple acknowledgement of who he wasn’t was one of the most significant acts of humility ever, because it laid the foundation for the coming Messiah.

But make no mistake: humility is not natural, nor is it easy. Humility starts by recognizing who God is and who we aren’t. It’s a moment-by-moment thing. Praising God for who He is not just something we say—it’s revealed in the way we live. Honoring God in every aspect of our lives is the surest way to keep our humility in check.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Have you ever been in a public setting when you got praised for something? How did it make you feel?
  2. How can humility be a vehicle for you to reach others for Christ?
  3. Matthew writes in chapter 18 verse 4, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” How can you make this verse applicable in your life every day?

Missions Prayer
Pray for generosity in the Body of Christ for missions (the Great Commission). Obedience in stewardship results in people hearing the gospel and having the opportunity to be in relationship with God forever.