Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Place of Humility
Writing about humility is--or at least should be--a humbling experience. I write with both reluctance and a sense of daring--and I hope without presumption. I am reluctant because I am no expert in the matter and do not want to speak too far beyond my experience. Nevertheless, I dare to proceed because I have been brought to see that humility is the living center of the Christian life, the indispensable heart of righteousness. As Andrew Murray said in his classic book Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, "Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all." Christian spirituality is founded upon humility of spirit and cannot live without it.How often do you hear that in the church today? - Humility as the center and root of our faith? Consider:
Humility is not only the appropriate response of dependent creatures, it is the Christian's invaluable inheritance in Christ. Our salvation was achieved through humility and for humility. Humility was the very instrument of redemption. Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; instead, he humbled himself in order to serve us and his Father by leaving the perfection of heaven and dying on the cross to set us free from sin (Phil. 2:5-11). It may be difficult to fathom how God Incarnate could be humble, but this is only because our vision of humility is clouded. The humility of Christ is rooted in his servant heart. He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for fallen people (Mk. 10:45).We hear about "Victory" in our salvation, but how often, particularly in this culture of end zone dances and big play grimaces do we read sentences like, "Our salvation was achieved through humility and for humility." Can there be a more essential message for today's church? - The church that revels in attendance and audience figures. - The church that gives us "our best lives now?" But then the conclusion:
There are several ways that we can protect our hearts from pride and seek humility in the Spirit. First, in a culture enamored of self, we must be ever watchful not to let the world squeeze us into its psychological mold. The fountain of the spiritual life is humility, not self-love. In Christ we are free to recognize good qualities in ourselves and enjoy them as we offer them to God for his use, but exercises in self-congratulation are never edifying. As the spiritual advisor Fenelon put it, "True humility lies in seeing our own unworthiness and giving ourselves up to God, never doubting that He can work out the greatest results for and in us." We are best used for God's great purposes by realizing that he is great and and we are not. This refutes the advice of a self-absorbed society which desperately seeks to inflate a sinful and unforgiven self to acceptable proportions. Paul put it best when he said, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:7).Has there ever been a senteece more prophetic for our tmies written than, "The fountain of the spiritual life is humility, not self-love."? How often do we hear Christianity sold as the path to true self-love?
A walk through life with Jesus is truly the road less traveled. How often we try to make it the road commonly traveled, but I wear different clothes. Christianity is not life improved, it is life redefined. The Christian life is radical beyond our dreams of radical, different beyond our ability to comprehend. Beautiful beyond what our senses can currently detect.