Jesus started a team. He built a team. The first team continued and built more teams. The teams in turn built more teams…it goes on and does not stop. Today the team continues its multiplication effect just as Jesus has intended and demonstrated.
When I first started team building many decades ago in my own business management practice and teaching team building so my team can in turn build teams, I did not realize the Jesus initiative. Today I turned on recorded lessons from a Bible School and listened to one lesson at random as I was carrying out my usual daily chores. The first thing that struck me was that the topic (course subject) was “The Beatitudes” but the teacher talked about team building in the first lesson! As I continued to listen it makes sense and is entirely relevant to me and all Christians who are in a position to lead, train and teach. To me it is really a refresher course in good and basic management practice.
I summarize below the foremost key teaching for the disciples of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. (Living Bible (TLB))
One day as the crowds were gathering, he went up the hillside with his disciples and sat down and taught them there. He taught them to live another lifestyle and equipped them to go to the mission field. He first told them these: “Humble men are very fortunate!”
“Be humble” is the first key teaching of Jesus to disciples. The whole three chapters speak of this command. Why? Jesus knew very well then even the apostles would fall if they became proud. How could they not become proud? With all the power and authority after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on them just as Jesus had promised. So much power and so much authority with the name of Jesus. Just look at what the apostles could do, preaching the gospels and converted thousands at one go, healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead! The first generation churches were jam packed with power and authority. It was like they operated with a direct pipeline to heaven channeling down every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3)
How not to be proud? The answer is to “be humble.” If it is not possible to be humble, then there is no need for Jesus to tell us how blessed it is to be humble. If the apostles/us are not likely to be proud then there is also no need for Jesus to specifically spend such time to mention what being humble means.
Pride comes before a fall. Jesus knows. The apostles know. Church history knows. So today we learn a good word. Be humble. Especially in a team like a church (an entity built on the foundation of the apostles). Pride breaks up. Humility builds up. Pride is self-focused. Humility is Christ-focused. Pride divides. Humility unites.
How to tell the difference between pride and humility? The Bible has given us a very accurate measure: Use the Bible as the plumb line. Check the fruit. Weigh on God’s scale.
Matthew 5 Living Bible (TLB) “Humble men are the world’s light!”
5 1-2 One day as the crowds were gathering, he went up the hillside with his disciples and sat down and taught them there.
3 “Humble men are very fortunate!” he told them, “for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
14 You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.
A wise and successful king (Solomon) gave his sons the following warning about being proud: (Note how pride ranks together with other evils)
Proverbs 8:13 If anyone respects and fears God, he will hate evil. For wisdom hates pride, arrogance, corruption, and deceit of every kind.
Proverbs 13:10 Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice, and become wise.
Proverbs 16:5 Pride disgusts the Lord. Take my word for it—proud men shall be punished.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.
Proverbs 18:12 Pride ends in destruction; humility ends in honor.
Proverbs 21:4 Pride, lust, and evil actions are all sin.
Proverbs 29:23 Pride ends in a fall, while humility brings honor.
Luke 1:51-53 New Living Translation (NLT) (Mary’s Song of Praise)
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
How to identify the difference? Matthew 7:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
What good fruit is from Galatians 5:22-23 [Full Chapter]
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
A warning about being fruitless from Jude 1:12 When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots.
Where good fruit comes from? James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
Colossians 1:6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
Colossians 1:10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.