"And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8
"Learn of me that I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" Matthew 11:29.
One of the most dangerous enemies the young Christian must guard against is pride or self-exaltation. There is no sin that works more cunningly and more hiddenly. It knows how to penetrate into everything, into our service for God, our prayers, and even into our humility. Self-exaltation can extract the nutrients out of even the smallest thing in earthly life and the holiest thing in spiritual life.1 The Christian must therefore be on his guard against it. He must listen to what the Scriptures teach about it and about the humility by which it is driven out.
Man was created to have part in the glory of God. He obtains this by surrendering himself to the glorification of Clod. The more he seeks the glory of God to be his only trait, the more of this glory he will know for himself.2 The more he forgets and loses himself--desiring to be nothing so that God may be all and be alone glorified--the happier he will be.
Because of sin this design has been thwarted. Man seeks himself and his own will.3 Grace has come to restore what sin has corrupted. Grace will bring man to glory if he will deny himself and live solely for the glory of God. Jesus is the example of this humility or lowliness. He gave no thought to Himself--He gave Himself over wholly to glorify the Father.4
He who wants to be freed from self-exaltation must not consider obtaining it by striving against its mere workings. No, pride must be driven out and kept out by humility. The Spirit of life in Christ, the Spirit of His lowliness, will work in us true humility.5
He will most often use the Word to bring about this sense of humility. We understand that it is by the Word that we are cleansed from sin. It is by the Word that we are sanctified and filled with the love of God.
Now observe what the Word says about this point. It speaks of God's dislike of pride and the punishment that comes with it.6 It gives the most glorious promises to the meek.7 In almost every Epistle, humility is commended to Christians as one of the first virtues.8 The most important characteristic which Jesus seeks to impress upon His disciples is humility. His whole incarnation and redemption have their roots in His humiliation.9
Take singly some of these words of God from time to time and lay them up in your heart. The tree of life yields many different kinds of seed--among them, the seed of the heavenly plant called humility. The seeds are the words of God. Carry them in your heart. They will shoot up and bear fruit.10
Consider, moreover, how lovely, how becoming, how well-pleasing humility is to God. As man, created for the honour of God, you find it suitable to you.11 As a sinner, deeply unworthy, you have nothing more to urge against it.12 As a redeemed soul, who knows that only through the death of the natural "I" does the way to the new life lie, you find it indispensable.13 As a child of the Father, overwhelmed with His love, you must consider it above all else.14
But here, as everywhere in the life of grace, let faith be the chief thing. Believe in the power of the eternal life which works in you. Believe in the power of Jesus, who is your life. Believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you. Do not attempt to hide your pride, or to forget it, or to root it out yourself. Confess this sin--and all its workings that you can find--in the sure confidence that the blood cleanses and that the Spirit sanctifies. Learn that Jesus is meek and lowly in heart. Consider that He is your life, with all that He has. Believe that He gives His humility to you. Be clothed with humility, so that you may be clothed with Jesus. It is Christ in you that will fill you with humility.
Blessed Lord Jesus, there never was anyone among the children of men so high, so holy, so glorious as You. And never was there anyone who was so humble and ready to deny Himself as the servant of all. Lord, when will we learn that humility is the grace by which man can be most closely conformed to the divine glory? Teach me this. Amen.
1) 2 Chron. 26:5,16; 32:26,31; Isa. 65:5; Jer. 7:14; 2 Cor. 12:7
2) Isa. 43:7,21; John 12:28; 13:31,32; 17:1,4,5; I Cor. 10:31; 2 Thess. 1:11,12
3) Rom. 1:21,23
4) John 8:50; Phil. 2:7
5) Rom. 8:2; Phil. 2:5
6) Ps. 31:23; Prov. 16:5; Matt. 23:12; Luke 1:51; Jas. 4:6; I Pet.5:5
7) Ps. 34:19; Prov. 11:2; Isa. 57:15; Luke 9:48; 14:11; 18:14
8) Rom. 12:3,16; 1 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:22,23,26; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3
9) Matt.20:26,28; Luke 22:27; John 13:14,15; Phil. 2:7,8
10) I Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:21
11) Gen. 1:27; 1 Cor. 11:7
12) Job 42:6; Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8
13) Rom. 7:18; I Cor. 15:9,10; Gal. 2:20
14) Gen. 32:10; 2 Sam. 7:18; 1 Pet. 5:6-10
1. Take heed that you do nothing to encourage pride on the part of others. Take heed that you do not allow others to feed your pride. Take heed, above all, that you do nothing yourself to feed your pride. Let God alone, always and in all things, obtain the honour. Endeavour to observe all that is good in His children, and to thank Him heartily for it. Thank Him for all that helps you to hold yourself in small esteem, whether it is sent through friend or foe. Resolve, especially, not to be eagerly bent on your own honour when this is not accorded to you as it ought to be. Commit this to the Father. Take heed only to His honour.
2. By no means suppose that faint-heartedness or doubting is humility. Deep humility and strong faith go together. The centurion who said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof," and the woman who said, "Yea, Lord, yet even the dogs eat of the crumbs," these two were the most humble and the most trustful that the Lord found (see Matt. 8:10; 15:28). The reason is this--the nearer we are to God, the less we are in ourselves, but the stronger we are in Him. The more I see of God,the less I become, the deeper is my confidence in Him. To become humble, let God fill eye and heart. Where God is all, there is no time or place for man.
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