Key Scriptures: Numbers 22, Numbers 16:1-34, Philippians 2:3-11, Luke 14:11, Proverbs 16:18, Romans 12:16, Mark 9:33-37, John 13:14-16
Guiding Question: What will our lives look like if we are humble?
Optional Introductory Activity: Bring in a quiet, older member of your congregation who serves others in ways which your students probably wouldn’t know. Let the member know ahead of time what you are doing so they will be prepared for whatever happens. Have items needed for washing someone’s feet.
Read John 13:14-16. Explain to students Jesus didn’t necessarily mean to only wash the feet of others, but many have used it as a way to show love, respect and honor to humble servants of God. Introduce your guest, sharing some of the humble service he/she does for others. Ask if any student would like to help you wash the person’s feet. No matter what happens, both you and the person should remain quiet and avoid showing emotion st students’ reactions.
Gently and lovingly wash the person’s feet and allow him or her to leave. Ask students why they made the choice they did when you asked them to join you in washing feet. Don’t comment on their responses.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read Proverbs 16:18. How many of you have heard the expression, “Pride cometh before a fall.”? What do you think it means?
Pride or arrogance can cause a lot of trouble. It certainly caused a huge fall for a man named Korah. Read Numbers 16:1-34. Korah’s pride caused him to become jealous of Moses and Aaron. Even though he knew God had chosen Moses and Aaron for their positions, Korah thought God should have chosen him. In a way, he was saying he thought he was smarter than God. He doesn’t say it, but it’s obvious he thought God had made a mistake.
How did Moses try to remind Korah and his group of their value to God? What other quality does Moses imply is attached to their pride? Greed and pride often occur together. We decide we are special enough to deserve something we want. What usually happens next? When we allow ourselves to become prideful, it’s not long before we sin. In Korah’s case, his sin was rebellion. What did God do to punish Korah and his followers and to teach the rest of God’s people (including us) an important lesson? What is that lesson?
Let’s take a look at a man whose pride was a little more subtle than Korah’s. Read Numbers 22:1-35. Usually, when we tell this story, we focus so much on the talking donkey, we miss the part about Balaam’s pride and greed.
Something happened in verses 20-22 that caused God to become very angry with Balaam. Most think it was because Balaam had decided to do what he wanted to do – possibly for the money – and not obey God’s command to say only what God told him to say. Others think God’s instruction was “If they come and call and you”. Balaam instead went to them the next morning and left instead of waiting to see if they came to him as God had commanded.
Balaam, like Korah, decided he had a better plan than God. He didn’t need to obey God, because he was smarter than God. Balaam almost lost his life because of his prideful rebellion. When do we become prideful and rebellious? Yes, often our sins involve pride. We believe we can disobey God because it is what we want. In our own way, we become like Korah and Balaam, believing our way is better than God’s way.
There is another type of pride we need to avoid though. Read Philippians 2:3-11. Sometimes our pride causes us to believe we are better than other people. Why does God have a problem with this type of pride?
So what do our lives look like if we are humble?
- Romans 12:16 – We are willing to be friends with people the world thinks are “below” us in status. Why is it important to God that we associate with those whom the world would tell us to ignore?
- Mark 9:33-37 – We put others before ourselves. Why does God want us to focus on honoring others and not ourselves?
- John 13:14-16 – We serve others like Jesus did. Obviously, we can’t do miracles like Jesus, so how can we serve others like he did?
- 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corinthians 7:10 – We repent of our sins. What does repenting of our sins have to do with humility?
- Romans 9:19-21 – We remember God is our King. He is wiser than we will ever be. We obey His commands because God is our King and because He knows what is best for us. Why is it tempting to think God is an old-fashioned King so we no longer need to obey His commands?
If you had to describe a person who had godly humility based on what we discussed today, what would he/she be like?
Skills Activity: Review the basic concepts from the lesson on humility. Divide the students into groups of two or three. Give them a sheet of paper. On one side they should write “Humble is…”. On the other side of the paper, they should write, “Humble is not…”.
Have them work together to write as many words, phrases and actions they can think of that will give a complete picture of someone who is humble and someone who is proud. Have students share their completed “portraits”. If time allows, give them various scenarios common to their daily experience. Have them describe how a humble person would handle the situation.
Application Challenge: Read Ecclesiastes. King Solomon had everything a person could ever want. Yet, Ecclesiastes is in part about what he learned from a life that would have made many people very proud. What do you learn from this book that you can apply to your own life when it comes to pride and humility?