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Genuine Humility | Part 2

January 17, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Humility Verse: Luke 17:1–17:10

Theme: Self-righteousness is incompatible with Humility.

I. Genuine Humility Avoids Offending Others – 17:1-2

A. The Danger of Being a Sinful Influence – v. 1

  • Jesus pivots from His address directly to the religious hypocrites – the self-righteous Pharisees – and speaks directly “to His disciples …”
  • He provides them a contrast between the humility of genuine godliness and the haughtiness of self-righteousness.
  • The first characteristic of genuine humility it a recognition of the fact that we all falter, causing our testimonies to have a negative or sinful impact on others.
  • Jesus says: “It is inevitable that stumbling block come …”
  1. “inevitable” [ἀνένδεκτος] – refers to something that is impossible, lit. = it is impossible for stumbling blocks not to come.
  2. “stumbling blocks” [σκάνδαλον] – refers to what causes someone to fall into sin – entrapment.
  • The self-righteous assert that they are free to live however they wish and if it causes someone to struggle – that’s their problem.
  • Yet Jesus declares “… but woe to him through whom they come!”
  • Because each of us remains a struggler we will consistently fall short of what we ought to be – never asserting that we are everything that we ought to be.
  • Jesus here condemns the one who sets himself up haughtily as all that he should be when careless living will inevitably cause others to struggle with sin – cp. Romans 14:13-19.

B. The Dread of Being a Sinful Influence – v. 2

  • As a result, Jesus emphasizes for us that haughty, reckless living is not characteristic of genuine humility.
  • He informs us that “it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
  • The “little ones” here refers not to children, but to believers.
  • The consequences of haughtiness causing others to fall into sinful thoughts or actions is to compound one’s suffering in hell if you’re an unbeliever and the “chastening in this life and forfeiture of eternal reward for believers.”


  1. Why does a proud person easily of others?
  2. Ponder the severity associated with being a sinful influence with the torture of being drowned to death? How does this impact your outlook?

II. Genuine Humility Absolves Offenses by Others – 17:3-4

A. The Opportunities for Righteousness – v. 3

  • Humility not only seeks to avoid offending others, but it will also seek forgiveness from one who is offended – cp. Matthew 5:23-24.
  • Thus, Jesus admonishes believers “Be on your guard!”
  • There must be a commitment to righteousness that not only monitors one’s own conduct to humbly acknowledge one’s propensity to offend others, but also help a brother who falls into sin – “If your brother sins, rebuke him …” – cp. Galatians 6:1.
  • “rebuke” [ἐπιτιμάω] – describes willingness “to express strong disapproval of someone, rebuke, reprove, censure also speak seriously, warn in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end.”
  • The humility of a brother will be seen in when he is confronted about his sin, he will repent – “… and if he repents, forgive him.”
  • Additionally, the humility of the one offended will cause him or her to be willing to forgive – cp. Ephesians 4:32.

B. The Obligations of Righteousness – v. 4

  • The unmasking of our haughtiness is in the difficulty we find in forgiving others.
  • Forgiveness is a grace that becomes a glory for the person who forgives – cp. Proverbs 19:11.
  • This is so inherent to humility that the truly humble person will forgive even if the offense is repeated – “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
  • His point is that humble, righteous people are righteous not by any merit they have gained, but because God has been gracious – hence, we too have the obligation to forgive others who may not appear to us to be worthy.
  • Failing to forgive does nothing to the other person, but emasculates and neutralizes the spiritual vitality of the one who is holding the grudge.


  1. Does forgiving others mean that you just let things slide? Why or why not?
  2. How does forgiving others enable you to know peace? 

III. Genuine Humility Acknowledges One’s Own Inadequacy – 17:5-6

A. The Confession of Inadequacy – v. 5

  • It is difficult for a self-righteous person to acknowledge that they have deficiency; their entire construct is built upon the notion that they are “good enough.”
  • It takes genuine humility – that awareness that one is not what one ought to be – to acknowledge their need.
  • Here, the disciples intuitively know that they are inadequate to properly obey the instructions of Christ – “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”
  • “Increase” [προστίθημι] means “add as a benefit, provide, give, grant” as an act of grace.
  • They realized that they had faith, but it wasn’t impactful enough to enable them to truly be humble – cp. Mark 9:24.

B. The Compensating for Inadequacy – v. 6

  • Jesus once again drew their attention to the human deficiency vs Divine adequacy – “And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea”; and it would obey you.’”
  • This is not a statement of promise, but one of hyperbole – who could do the things Jesus just describes except God alone?
  • The point Jesus is making is that the ability to do things too difficult for sinful people will find the blessings to the work of God.
  • Humble people are mighty since they understand their weakness and depend completely on the Lord to do what they cannot – cp. Ephesians 3:20.


  1. What circumstances would cause you to pray for an increase in your faith?
  2. How does access to the Lord through faith compensate for your inadequacy?

IV. Genuine Humility Allays One’s Own Pride – 17:7-10

A. The Requirement re: Responsibilities – v. 7-9

  • Jesus continues to pound the self-righteous by providing an analogy to their achievements as unimpressive to God.
  • Pursuing righteousness for the purpose of earning God’s favor is futile – God sees absolute righteousness as an expectation of anyone who will have a relationship with Him – something we do not have!
  • He describes it with reference to a Master/Slave relationship – “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink?’”
  • The slave would not consider it rude or ungrateful of the master to expect the slave to fulfill his duties before provision or compensation is provided.
  • Jesus states this clearly by stating: “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?”
  • The slave would have expected to be required to fulfill his responsibilities as part of his daily duties – without the presumption of honor.

B. The Repudiation of Recognition – v. 10

  • Likewise, instead of fulfilling duty as a means of garnering honor, a humble person fulfills their duties before the Lord in order to not disappoint Him.
  • As such, whenever we do what is right, we must disallow ourselves from expecting praise or special honor in the eyes of God – “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”
  • Nothing we do makes God indebted to us, but we rely totally upon Him for mercy and grace.
  • One most difficult things for the self-righteous person is to understand that their own righteousness is not impressive in the eyes of God.
  • In fact, the more diligent a person is in asserting their own righteousness, the more offensive they are to God – cp. Luke 14:11.


  1. How does serving God for recognition affect the joy of the one serving?
  2. Why do we so readily yearn for recognition for what we do?

So What?

- Self-righteousness produces ego-centrism and humility enables us to prefer others.

- Actively forgive others even before they ask; be poised for reconciliation should they ever ask.

- Virtue is “extrinsic” – that is, we gain it through the work of God alone.

- Fulfilling ALL of God’s commands is the “lowest hanging fruit” of genuine righteousness, achievable only by Christ.”

- His righteousness is available to anyone who humbles themselves and calls upon Him for salvation.