- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. L. Samuel Martz at New Carrollton Bible Church in New Carrollton, Md.

In James [4:10-12], we have the direct command to be humble, and today we'll look at our response. Humble means to place yourself under God's control.
The previous verse tells us about humility in victory, in this case the success to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Our temptation might come after our victory. We could say, "Ha, ha, ha. We won." But God says all the glory belongs to Me.
Some of you know DeMatha High School basketball. A typical DeMatha game is to beat the daylights out of the other team. One time, the opposing team got a slam dunk, so the players converged to do a high-five. Well, as they celebrated, DeMatha took the ball down the court for more points.
I wonder if Satan gives us a victory once in a while so that we'll boast and slack off. He can wait a while, even all year. So humble yourselves in the midst of victory. That is a command, and Psalms 75 assures us, "He shall lift you up."
The command to "humble yourself before the Lord" is pretty easy compared to what comes next: "Speak not evil one of another." You prove humility to God by being humble to your fellow man. Many of us might say, "I may not be as good as God, but I'm better than he is." If you want to show God that you are humble, then humble yourself before God's family.
There was a church out West that had a church discipline problem, so the minister detailed for the church the moral failings of a member. Well, she sued the church for slander, and the judge awarded her a whole lot of money. The church said, "We Christians are being persecuted," but that pastor didn't need to say what he did. That was being foolish, not being persecuted. The church could have wept for a member caught in sin, and prayed… .
Now when Scripture says don't "speak evil" of others, that is the regular habit of gossip. To pronounce judgment on someone is like going to District Court in Upper Marlboro, putting on a robe, and banging the gavel at the bench saying, "That guy's guilty." You may wind up in jail yourself for abusing the judicial system. You sat as judge and jury.
In other words, we make ourselves a final authority, and judge the law to carry out our own desire. Every time someone speeds or runs a red light they are saying, "My law is superior to the county law." Those who drive 50 in a 30 [mph] zone say, "The law that I should be at work, or at the party, on time is superior to the speed limit." They should start earlier, and not judge the law. They should be doers of the law, not its judge.
The right balance is found in the words of Jesus. In Matthew, He says, "Judge not or you will be judged," and some use that to say you can't criticize. What Jesus means is to judge ourselves first. See the log in our own eye before the speck in another's eye. Judge only by God's word… .
The second point today is that after humility toward people, we must be humble to God's law. There is only one law giver. In Exodus, Moses went up the mount for the law from the one God, not "ten suggestions" from a committee. We have one law giver, the Lord God Jehovah. God is savior and judge, both executive and judicial.
I am glad we have the separation of powers in American government. The executive, judicial and legislative balance each other. I wouldn't want the country run by the White House or Supreme Court and am reluctant even about Congress alone. In government we have division of powers, but God is different. God makes the law, enforces the law, and saves those who come by Him. Christ is perfect, but we and our government are imperfect. In John [21:18-22], we read, "Who art thou that judgeth another?" With God's help, we can be humble before others and before His law.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Robin Rauh at the Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Va.

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