Submit, Resist and Draw Near

Date

Dec 1, 2018

Sermon Series

No real moral progress is achievable without humility, which ultimately is an act of submission. It seems that this is James’ conclusion in James chapter 4. If one wants to live a life like Christ, he/she must be humble.

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Dear Downers Church Family:

What would the United States look like without the creativity of Benjamin Franklin? Actually, what would the world be like without Benjamin Franklin?

Most of us have heard the story of Franklin’s key and kite during the thunderstorm. Franklin became world-renowned from his experiments with electricity. Benjamin Franklin was known for other inventions and improvements also:  bifocals, swimming fins, the glass armonica, the Franklin stove, lightning rods, 4-sided street lamps, the odometer, and the ever-popular flexible urinary catheter.  Mr. Franklin was also known for his work as the Postmaster General. He worked hard to make the post office routes quicker and more efficient. Along with his contributions, Franklin transcends time due to his portrait being added to the $100 bill. Only he and Alexander Hamilton ($10 bill) have been non-presidents that have had their portrait on American money, unless you consider the $10,000 bill.

There was one “invention” that Ben Franklin had that transformed his life more than the others: his “moral perfection” project. In his mid-20s, Ben became disgruntled about the disorder of his life. He was frustrated with his lack of productivity and also challenged with his new illegitimate son that came from an affair. He came to the conclusion that, at best, he was morally mediocre. Franklin’s idea was to make a list of virtues that he would live by for the remainder of his life. Originally, he arrived at 12 virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility and chastity. Franklin felt that his life would take a turn for the better if he held true to these Biblically-based virtues.

As the story goes, though, the young Ben excitedly took his list of virtues to a close Quaker friend for review. The following text is from Franklin’s autobiography:

My list of virtues continued at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud, that my pride showed itself frequently in conversation, that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing and rather insolent, of which he convinced me by mentioning several instances, I determined endeavoring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.

“Humility” was missing from his life. Quite possibly this was the most important virtue of them all. Franklin would not be successful in truly keeping the other virtues without being humble. Ultimately, Franklin claims, his conversations and engagements changed dramatically after this realization.

The truth that Ben Franklin realized was that no real moral progress is achievable without humility, which ultimately is an act of submission. He knew it would not be easy, considering his personality, yet it was imperative. It also seems that this is James’ conclusion in James chapter 4. If one wants to live a life like Christ, we must be humble.

Pastor Kent

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