Trying The Manger On For Size
Phil. 2:5 through Phil. 2:11 (NIV)
Introduction: When we look at the manger, we see a humble seen. How can the eternal God who created all that is and ever will be, and who is at the same time, everywhere, fit in the manger. Perhaps a better question as Christians is can we fit in the manger. Since Christ came in a manger, and we are supposed to be Christ like, Perhaps we should try it on. If God could fit in the manger, surly we could, but the trouble comes when we really begin to see how big the manger is, and how small we have to make ourselves to fit into it. If we are to fit in the manger as Jesus did, we have to realize that the tiny manger is a tiny place that takes a big person to fit into it, and to fit into it, the truly great will become small. Jesus came as a little baby in a manger, and if we are going to be like Jesus, we have to try on the manger, just as he did. Paul tells us to have the same attitude that Jesus had, when he became incarnate, and came in a manger to give His life a ransom for many, and seek and save those who were lost.
I. Try the Manger on for Selflessness
A. Not Self-centered
Its not always about you!
- Shopping – Me first – I’m going to get mine
***One night two friends were camping out in the deep woods on a warm summer's night. Suddenly, their sleep was abruptly interrupted by a large furry visitor. A huge black bear began to tear through their camp, crushing supplies, throwing backpacks, and scaring the two men half to death. Thinking quickly, one of the men began to lace up his sneakers for a quick getaway. "You will never outrun that bear!" his friend yelled. To this he replied, "I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!"
Jesus taught us to put others first. His very actions and dealings with the beggars, the lepers, and thieves showed that He had compassion for the lowly. So the next time you have trouble with your brother remember the following:
"The world measures a man's greatness by the number who serve him. Heaven's yardstick measures a man by the number who are served by him."
B. Not Self-assertive
- Road rage – Driver’s right of way – I got rights.
- My way, or the highway. I have to be the one who calls the shots.
*** In countries where deep snows cover the ground for a large part of the year, an intelligent, strong dog, thoroughly broken to sled harness, is a very valuable animal. He often sells for as much money as a first-class work horse will in our climate. He is worth more to the man living in Greenland or Alaska than the finest horse would be, as he is strong enough to pull a pretty good load, and yet can travel on top of a crust of snow without breaking through. Well-trained sled dogs are intelligent creatures, and a team of them, like the same number of human beings, show a great variety of dispositions and traits. One dog will have a friendly nature, while his running mate may be quarrelsome and hard to get along with. Some dogs are what boys call "bullies," and others are cowardly and easily imposed upon. There will be the dog who can always be depended upon to pull his share of the load, and there will be the one who shirks when he can. Quite a bit like folks, aren't they?
A missionary in Alaska owned a fine team of dogs, which carried him and his sled as he went from place to place on his preaching circuit. In a letter to a friend he told about one of his dogs; a strong, handsome fellow who was the leader of his team. He was evidently very proud of his place at the head of the pack and made a splendid leader. But after a while the missionary thought it was best to train another dog to lead, so that, in case anything happened to this one, he would not be without a leader. The next time he started on a trip, therefore, he harnessed his second best dog in the leader's place: but what do you suppose the first dog did? Why he dropped to the ground, as sulky as he could be, and refused to get up until his master used a whip on him! He had to go on, then, but he was not conquered. His next trick was to gnaw the harness of the new leader just in front of him until that dog was freed, which left him in the first place once more.
He did this several times until his master had to take him out of
the pack, and tie him up where he could see the other dog get his
training. This made him very angry. He grew morose and surly, and lost his appetite. Indeed he was so changed that he did not seem like the same dog. When he died a few months later, the missionary was convinced that it was because he could not stand having to share his place as leader with another dog. You can see what was the matter with him: he must have first place, or none. And then the missionary asked his friend if he had ever met people like that? But I think that the important question to ask would be this "Am I like that dog? Am I satisfied only when I can have the first place, or at least a very prominent one?" If we are honest about it, we may find out something about ourselves which we have not known before, but which perhaps our friends have known all along.
By William Moses Tidwell, "Effective Illustrations."
C. Not Self-gratifying
- Grasping and grabbing for all you can get
***Jessie's mother had just given her a five dollars piece when the minister came to call.
"Ah, Jessie," the minister said, "I see you have a shiny new coin. Why don't you give it to the MISSIONS?"
"I thought about that," said the girl, "But I think I'll buy an ice cream, and let the icecream man give it to the missions!"
Acts 20:35 (NIV)
35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
***Jay E. Adams writes that under the roof in his back yard hangs a hummingbird feeder that he keeps filled with sugar water. There are four openings in it from which birds may suck the nectar. Yet, day after day, from early morning until after dusk, the feeder is the source of their own private version of star wars. One bird chases all the others away.
"As I said," Adams writes, "there is room for four birds at a time, and fully that number attempt to feed. But the top dog (excuse my use of this metaphor for a hummingbird!), who now 'owns'the feeder, will not let them. All day long he sits on the branch of a nearby apricot tree guarding 'his'feeder and defying others to transgress on what he has established as 'his'territory.
"This ongoing slice of life confronts us throughout the day as green and red Annas hummers streak across the yard, the king hummer in hot pursuit of an intruder. While the chase is on, others sneak a sip or two, only to be driven off when he returns.
"The whole business has become a sort of parable for our family. Here is an example of grace: I bought the feeder; I supply the sugar water. The birds do not earn it; they receive it all gratis. Yet, day after day, they fight over who may enjoy it.
"How like the people of God! All we have or are that is worthwhile is the gift of God's pure grace. And yet we are proud, self-centered, envious, and quarrelsome. Often we fight over God's good gifts rather than expressing our gratitude in humility and sharing what we have been given with others. Just as I am confronted daily with rivalry in my yard, even so God is confronted daily with rivalry in His."
2 Cor. 8:9 (NIV)
9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
II. Try the Manger on for Servant hood
A. A Human Role
- “It takes one to know one.”
B. A Humbling Role
***Andrew Murray said, "The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because...he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor. Therefore, in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility." Humble people are not conscious of being humble. As Dr. M. R. De Haan used to say, "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have."
C. A Helping Role
*** A Sunday School teacher was teaching her children the benefits of unselfishness. She concluded by saying: "The reason you are in this world, children, is to help others."
After a moment's silence, a little girl piped up: "Well, then, what are the OTHERS here for?"
Matt. 20:28 (NIV)
28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- We recognize the greatness of servanthood as we see it in action. The best example I can think of that has occurred lately are the policemen and firemen at the WTC. Since that incident, NYC firemen an policemen paraphernalia sales have gone through the roof.
III. Try the Manger on for Submission
A. Dependable Submission – In Obedience
***Mary Murray tells this on herself:
"My dear mother must have chuckled at the little girl who obeyed 'halfway.'Mom loved to have her house just right. On Saturday, when she asked me to dust the furniture frames and the delicate glassware, I stared in awe at the task before me. I dusted as fast as I could, going 'around'the glassware; not picking them up and missing spots here and there on the furniture. Sometimes I would have to redust after 'inspection.'She was teaching me to 'obey right'the first time and to use self-discipline."
***When Betty Elliott received news that her missionary husband
had been martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecuador, she was shaken
but not to the point of despair. She had appropriated the truths
of the Bible and was walking in daily fellowship with the Lord.
She also believed that her Heavenly Father had permitted this
seeming tragedy for some good purpose. The confidence she had in
the allwise God enabled her to write a letter to a friend, saying,
"Only in acceptance lied peace - not in forgetting nor in
resignation nor in busyness. His will is good and acceptable and
B. Determined Submission – In Commitment
***The mother of the family was celebrating a birthday and the rest of the family was treating her to a party. When the time for the presentation of the gifts arrived, she was instructed to sit in her favorite living room chair. One by one, the father and the two older children came in from the kitchen bearing their gifts on a tray, solemnly presenting them to her as to royalty. The smallest girl, really too little to have had much of a role in the gift selection, had been left out of these joyous plans. But watching the process, she rose to the occasion. For when the others thought the party was over, she appeared from the kitchen bearing an empty tray. Approaching her mother she placed the tray on the floor, stepped upon it herself, and with a childish wiggle of joy said, "Mommy, I give you ME!" Charles Krieg, St. Joseph's Seminary, Princeton, NJ.+
C. Devoted Submission – In Faithfulness
*** The mother of the family was celebrating a birthday and the rest of the family was treating her to a party. When the time for the presentation of the gifts arrived, she was instructed to sit in her favorite living room chair. One by one, the father and the two older children came in from the kitchen bearing their gifts on a tray, solemnly presenting them to her as to royalty. The smallest girl, really too little to have had much of a role in the gift selection, had been left out of these joyous plans. But watching the process, she rose to the occasion. For when the others thought the party was over, she appeared from the kitchen bearing an empty tray. Approaching her mother she placed the tray on the floor, stepped upon it herself, and with a childish wiggle of joy said, "Mommy, I give you ME!" Charles Krieg, St. Joseph's Seminary, Princeton, NJ.+
IV. Try the Manger on for Splendor
A. Exalting the Selfless
Matt. 16:25 (NIV)
25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
***F. B. Meyer once said: "I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts."
B. Exalting the Servant
Mark 10:42 through Mark 10:45 (NIV)
42Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
C. Exalting the Submissive
James 4:7 through James 4:10 (NIV)
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Conclusion: In order to fit into the manger, we have to put the welfare of others ahead of our own glory and give ourselves like Jesus did, for the good of others. We have to be willing to put on the apron of Servant hood on like Jesus did, and be willing to humble ourselves, putting ourselves beneath others, that we can lift them up. If we are to fit into the manger we have to be able to submit to God to the point of sacrifice, and not a sacrifice of our own choosing, but an unreserved sacrifice that is utterly devoted to God, and faithfully submits to the sacrifice of God’s own choosing. If we are to fit into the manger, we will have to make ourselves small like Jesus did, and only then can we be truly great, and share in the splendor of the manger. Only in our humility, can we find exaltation. Only in giving our life, can we really find it.