I was looking for a book. Not for me, for a friend. I pulled a few out of my bookshelf and perused them. I even read a few chapters of one that had a promising title. But each chapter seemed like another lap around the same track. After a few minutes, I had read enough. Six times.
I opened another, simply titled “Humility.” It had a “50% Off” sticker plastered against its face. Probably the real reason why I bought it. It was a deal.
It was Friday evening and I was doing nothing. So I started at the preface. And I read this:
“When I look back on my own religious experience, or on the church of Christ in the world, I stand amazed at the thought of how seldom humility is sought after as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus. In preaching and living, in the daily activities of the home and social life, in the more special fellowship with Christians, in the direction and performance of work for Christ–there is much proof that humility is not considered the cardinal virtue. It is not considered the only root from which grace can grow, and the one indispensable condition of true fellowship with Jesus. The accusation that those who claim to be seeking the higher holiness have not always done so with increased humility is a call to all earnest Christians to prove that meekness and loneliness of heart are the chief marks by which they follow the meek and humble Lamb of God.”
And I kept reading. My friend didn’t need this book. I needed this book.
And despite his quiet, authoritative style, Andrew Murray held my attention and I kept turning page after page. I wanted to read it all quickly. And slowly. I wanted to see the whole picture and yet I wanted to be able to ponder each thought.
It was not a long book. Still, not many people could write 124 meaningful pages about one word. Unlike the first book I read, I didn’t feel like I was going round and round in a sea of anecdotes and suggestions. I felt like Murray was just taking me step by step to a deeper understanding of the Scripture that teach us this elusive concept.
Here are a few key thoughts–discounted down to my own words:
Humility is the essence of discipleship. It is a necessary ingredient of love, joy, peace, and patience–no, of every fruit of the spirit.
Humility is not about what we pray, what we sing, or even what we think. Humility is how we treat others–difficult family members, irritating co-workers, and useless customer service reps. Humility is the act of placing others above ourselves; of taking on the form of a servant.
Humility is rare and difficult because it requires the laying down of our lives. It’s unnatural. We repeatedly choose to believe the lies perpetuated by pride–that our happiness will come from standing up for our rights and being the center of our own worlds.
Humility brings eternal rewards. Murray says it this way:
“He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ Jesus Himself is the proof of the truth of these words. He is the pledge of the certainty of their fulfillment to us. Let us take His yoke upon us and learn from Him, for He is ‘meek and lowly in heart.’ (Matt. 11:29). If we are willing to stoop to Him, as He has stooped to us, He will yet stoop to each one of us again, and we will find ourselves equally yoked with Him. As we enter deeper into the fellowship of His humility, and either humble ourselves or bear the humbling of men, we can count on the Spirit of His exaltation, ‘the spirit of glory and of God’ (1 Pet. 4:14), to rest upon us. The presence and the power of the glorified Christ will come to those who are of a humble spirit. When God can again have His rightful place in us, He will lift us up.”
It is not a thriller or a mystery, but I have already read it twice in the last two weeks and I probably need to read it about 600 more. Humility has helped me tap into the root of grace and, in turn, let go of hurt, pride, anger, and jealousy.
I never did find a book for my friend, but for some reason, I felt compelled to share this one with you. And if Andrew Murray’s Humility isn’t your style, I’ll also share this poem (attributed to Beth Moore) which paints a vivid picture of the alternative in every-day English:
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.