Being a reader, I decided for Lent that year, I was going to spend some time reading theological material. I found myself meandering around a bookstore, which is far from rare for me, and one particular small book entitled, “Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness” by Andrew Murray caught my eye. So I purchased the book, headed home and started reading.
First and foremost, let’s start at the beginning of the concept of humility. Murray gives it this definition …the place of entire dependence upon God, is from the very nature of things the first duty and the highest virtue of His creatures. And so pride—the loss of humility—is the very root of every sin and evil.
Murray made some really exceptional thoughts, but it wasn’t until I hit chapter six that I was left speechless and shocked. Murray says, It is easy to think that we humble ourselves before God, but our humility toward others is the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real. To be genuine, humility must abide in us and become our very nature. True humility is be made of no reputation—as did Christ. In God’s presence, humility is not a posture we assume for a time—when we think of Him or pray to Him—but the very spirit of our life. It will manifest itself in all our bearing toward others. A lesson of deepest importance is that the only humility that is really ours is not the kind we try to show before God in prayer, but the kind we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct. The seemingly insignificant acts of daily life are the tests of eternity, because they prove what spirit possesses us. It is in our most unguarded moments that we truly show who we are and what we are made of. To know a truly humble person, you must follow that one in the common course of daily life…Humility before God is nothing if it is not proven in humility before others.
BAM!!! Immediately, pride became easy to spot. Road rage is pride. Being able to do something, and thinking others should be able to do it too because I can, is pride. Violence is pride. Hatred is pride. Gossiping is pride. Complaining is pride. Believing I can only learn from those who agree with me is pride. Thinking I am always right and the other guy is always wrong is pride. Keeping lists of a hierarchy of sins is pride. Keeping track of faults of others is pride. Keeping track of sins I have and haven’t committed is pride. Refusing to fight the oppressor and be the voice of the oppressed is pride. The divisions in The Church instead of working through issues, is pride. Someone not being treated equal to others is pride. I went from thinking pride was invisible to being convinced that pride is as common as a breath of oxygen. We are contaminated with pride! Seeing how common it is helped me form morals and values rooted in conviction, unlike previously, when I held many beliefs simply because someone said so or because of what a random verse in The Bible said.
Now, pride made complete sense to me. Now, I understood why it is dangerous. Now, I could identify pride as the root to all sin.
This revelation changed my thinking and view of life. Suddenly, the two greatest commandments, as recorded in Matthew 22:34-40, fell into place for the first time in my life. Other things about The Bible started to click in a greater depth than before, for example, where Jesus said the greatest in His Kingdom was the one who served (Matthew 20:26). I suddenly saw how the Beatitudes were so outrageously ‘in your face’ for the first time (Matthew 5:1-12). Jesus coming for the sick became extremely significantly profound (Mark 2:13-17). And as lame as this sounds, the song I grew up listening to, “Secret Ambition” (Michael W. Smith) had such a challenge to me, as a listener. I realized that Jesus was really radical in His teachings, and I can see why the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law were angry and wanted Him dead. This revelation was the moment everything made sense. It was as if I had puzzle pieces all my life, but this was the first time they all came together to make a picture, which spelt out the mission of Christ.
One of the amazing things about humility is that it awakens the soul. Murray says in his book, As the soul in the pursuit and practice of humility follows in the steps of Jesus, its consciousness of the need of something more is awakened, its desire and hope is quickened, its faith strengthened, and it learns to look up and claim that true fullness of the Spirit of Jesus that can daily maintain His death to self and sin in its full power to make humility the all-pervading spirit of our life. I have preached many sermons in my near 9 years as a pastor. I have taught many Bible Studies and taught children’s programs. If there is anything I have noticed it’s that a sermon or Bible lesson on humility will grab a listener’s heart every time. This has absolutely nothing to do with how excellent my illustrations are, how great of a preacher I am or the length at which I preach. It has nothing to do with what media I use or if I get the congregation creatively involved. It doesn’t matter how I end the sermon or what song I use for closing. Humility will always stir a human heart because that is its very nature. If a sermon or a teaching on holiness and humility doesn’t cause a soul to be stirred then there is a chance that it wasn’t preached at all.
Those moments in worship when you feel the Spirit, it is because you realized how little you are in comparison of God’s powerfulness. Those moments when you help someone and it sends your Spirit flying, it’s because you put someone before yourself. In those moments when conviction comes to the forefront of your mind, not because of guilt but because of genuine care, is because you realize you still need Christ. And that’s humility surfacing itself to come alive.
Pride is something we need to sacrifice to God regularly, on a daily basis, multiple times a day.
Coming to terms with humility started my life as a Christian, living as a Christian.
As I continued to read Murray, I found myself lamenting with him, Jesus wrought our salvation by which He saves us, is the humility that makes us the servant to all. How little this is preached. How seldom it is practiced. How faintly the lack of it is felt or confessed. I couldn’t help but say, so many times, I have felt holiness and humility were presented like a list of rules. This realization to what humility truly is had no rules. In fact, it gave me permission to wreck my metaphorical list journal that was obsessed with sins and my constant need to stop committing them. It took me from a place of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ to a place where I could live in grace and compassion. I was no longer living a life of legalism; I was living a life of freedom and of peace.
Yesterday started Lent, and again this year, I will be doing some soul searching and seeking into a better understanding of what it means to live a life of humility. The most interesting part of humility is that it is never mastered. No one has it down. It’s something I will and you will struggle with for the rest of our human lives. It will always need improvement. And, it will always be worth it, because it is the very essence of what keeps us connected to God and His Spirit.
What are your thoughts?
How do you think humility is shown in everyday life?
What can you teach me about humility?