This is a continuation of my teaching on Andrew Murray’s powerful book on humility which I shared with some men in my ministry at a prayer retreat. So far we have looked at the first six chapters and this month we will look at chapters seven and eight. The quoted material is either direct quotes by Murray or paraphrases for succinctness.
CHAPTER 7 – HUMILITY AND HOLINESS – (God speaking) “Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you! ’These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.” (Isaiah 65:5) “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14) “This shows us that even in God’s house, the church, etc., even when we are praying and praising God, we can be proud. There is no pride so dangerous, none so subtle and insidious as the pride of holiness which is only self-righteousness. This is seen in our gossip and criticism of others and even in our thoughts and attitudes toward others. The holiest will always be the humblest and Jesus is the most holy because He was the most humble. Where man becomes nothing before God, he becomes humble before man. Holiness is humility at the root.”
We see Job repent of his self-righteousness after God reveals His blazing glory to him. “But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in his net. “I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me. I protest, but there is no justice. God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness. He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head.” (Job 19:6-9) (In chapters 38-41 God reveals His awesome holiness to Job and Job repents.) “Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:1-6) Only after seeing God’s awesome glory does Job repent of his self-righteousness and admits to God and himself he is a mere creature and sinner that falls far short of God’s holiness. Like Job and the Pharisee Jesus speaks of above, we too may wrongly compare ourselves to others and think we deserve better treatment from God because of our good works. But we are to only compare ourselves to God and like Job realize how needy and sinful we are apart from God’s grace to change us.
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you, like Job, ever feel that God should be treating you better; that your good works and righteousness deserve a better outcome than what your life has turned out to be? Read and meditate on Isaiah 40:12-31 to help you identify with how Job must have felt after God revealed Himself to him.
CHAPTER 8 – HUMILITY AND SIN – “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:13-17 – The apostle Paul near the end of his life. Also see 1 Corinthians 15:9-10; Ephesians 3:8) Like Paul we must never forget the revolutionary change wrought only by God’s grace to change us from sinners who disobeyed God into sons and daughters of God who delight in pleasing Him (Romans 7:22). We must never forget where we came from as lost sinners and always be aware of our need for God’s grace as Paul was, to empower us to work out the salvation God gave us when we were saved. Now we can say, “I am a sinner saved by grace (my past); a child of the Living God being redeemed and changed into Christ’s likeness (my present); to become more and more like my Savior and the person God created me to be for His purposes and His glory (my destiny and future). This is who I am, my true identity- not a businessman, nor husband, nor father, nor any role I perform for I will serve none of those roles in heaven.” (See Ephesians 2:1-10)
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Using 1 Timothy 1:13-17 above fill in the blanks by describing yourself before you came to Christ. “Even though I once was a _________________ and a_________________ and a______________ etc., “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Do you, like Paul, tell others of your sinful ways before God saved and changed you so God gets all the glory for any good you do?
Until He Comes Again,
Len and Kristen