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#938 – A Recipe for Humility (1 Corinthians 4:7)

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“For who sees anything different in you? What did you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why did you boast as if you did not receive it?”
(1 Corinthians 4:7)

This is a great verse that reminds us very, very simply, every one of us, that every good thing we have is from God. There is nothing good in us that did not come from God. I think about a group of professional athletes I was speaking to not long ago. I mean, these are elite athletes getting paid, many of them a lot of money, to play this sport. And as I’m speaking to them, I was just talking to them about how unnatural their gifts are, how a lot of people would like to have the gifts they have, but they don’t have them. And I just said, “I trust you realize it’s all from God. It’s not from you. Like it’s all from God.” And I said… Now, some of you, as soon as I say that, might think, “Wait a minute. Like I work hard at my skill and this sport. Like I get up four o’clock in the morning, I work out, I eat healthy, I train all day, and this way, that way. Like I work from sunup to sundown to be able to play this sport.”

Lord, everything that is good is from You. Nothing good in us is from us. We ask that you rid us of pride, that we may humbly cling to You.

And I said, “I don’t doubt for a second that you do all those things.” But I said, “Let me just ask you the follow-up question. Like who gives you the strength to wake up at four o’clock in the morning? And who gives you muscles in the first place to work out? And who gives you food to eat? And who gives you energy throughout the day, as you’re doing all this training? Like everything you have comes from God. Nothing in you comes from you. Nothing good in you.”

And it’s not just for professional athletes. Like this is for all of us. What do you have that you did not receive? Everything we have that’s good we received. “And if then you received it,” Paul says, “Why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” You see how this transforms our lives? This is a recipe for humility, realizing everything we have is received. And this undercuts all pride. What will you be proud in? At that point, the only thing that you could be proud in is things that are not good in you, like things that are evil in you, sin, but you certainly don’t want to be proud of that. Anything good in you comes from God, and so you can’t be proud of anything good in you because it all came from God. You received it.

Oh God, we pray that you would rid us of pride. God, I pray this in my own life. You know, God, that I’m the most prideful person that I know or met. I pray continually that you would rid me of pride. I pray this on behalf of others right now, as we pray together. God, please rid us of pride. Help us to realize that anything and everything good in us comes from you, that nothing good in us is from us. We’ve received everything that’s good.

And we praise you for your goodness because there is so much good. There’s so much good in us, around us, and it all comes from you. So we give you glory for it, and we pray for humility. We pray that you would keep us from, at any point, whenever those prideful thoughts creep in to our minds and prideful desires in our hearts, even prideful ambition in our lives, remove it, we pray. Help us to live humbly. Humbly receiving from you, humbly stewarding the good things you’ve given us for your glory, maximally in our lives. But God, we pray that you’d help us never to forget that everything good in us has been received from you. So help us not to boast as if we got it on our own. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
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