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 eight chapters and this month we will look at chapters nine and ten. The quoted material is either direct quotes by Murray or paraphrases for succinctness.
CHAPTER 9 – HUMILITY AND FAITH – Jesus asks, “How can you believe (look to God for everything) if you accept praise (or honor) from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise (or honor) that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44) Jesus says here that we are to seek honor from God. There is a right way to seek affirmation and that is from our heavenly Father even as a little child can rightly seek their mother’s or father’s praise. Yet when we seek honor from man and exalt ourselves it blocks faith and our ability to receive God’s gifts and power. Only a life of dependence and humility can give us the fruit of the Spirit we all long for –“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”(Gal. 5:22-23) “Faith and humility are at the root one and the same. We can never have more true faith than we have true humility. In Scripture we see many examples of faith and humility working together:” “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.” (Matthew 8:5-10) “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, (her) “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” (Matthew 15:21-28) God may use men who aren’t humble (like Samson and the disciples before Pentecost) as a means of blessings to others –evangelists, people in healing ministries, etc., but only that which is done for God’s glory out of love has eternal value for the person God uses. Paul who exercised great spiritual power said: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-4)
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: In Galatians 1:10 Paul says if he were still seeking man’s approval and praise that he couldn’t be a servant of Jesus. How does seeking man’s praise hinder our faith and service for the Lord? How can you “obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26) “But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1 Samuel 2:30) We must learn to “hear” God’s affirmation as we do the things that please Him even if no one else ever notices it. If not, we will wrongly seek it from others.
CHAPTER 10 – HUMILITY AND DEATH TO SELF – “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:23-24, 27, 28) “For we who are alive are always being given over to death (to self/flesh) for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:11-12) “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24) “Humility precedes death to self even as Jesus’ humility (not My will but Thine be done) led to His death on the cross. We must depend on the Spirit to grace us with humility but our part is to humble ourselves and submit to God’s will in all things as Jesus did. As we submit our attitude (inner) and actions (outer) to the Lord’s will, He graces us with humility and death to self. This is a matter of complete trust in God as seen by our Lord on the cross when He felt God-forsaken but called out in a loud voice just before He gave up His spirit, His life: “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.” (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46) The death to self is the empty vessel God can fill with Himself, His resurrected life, to do His will in His power for His glory.”
The following prayer by the late A.W. Tozer is one of the most self-humbling, God-exalting prayers I have ever read. “O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, `Hosanna in the highest’.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God)
Until He Comes Again,
Len and Kristen