This month we will complete the series on Andrew Murray’s powerful book, Humility as we look at the two final chapters. The quoted material is either direct quotes by Murray or paraphrases for succinctness.
CHAPTER 11 – HUMILITY AND HAPPINESS – “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (The apostle Paul- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) “The ultimate deliverance is deliverance from self; self-confidence, self-pity, self-vindication, self-glory, my agenda – my will be done, etc. Jesus was completely free from all these self-sins and thus had peace in the midst of every trial He faced. This is the peace He promises us as we surrender all to God as He did.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Paul wasn’t a masochist. He didn’t delight in pain and hardships for the sake of suffering but for Christ’s sake, for Christ’s glory, and to experience Christ’s strength, peace, and power flowing through his weak and yielded life. Note the words Paul uses to describe experiencing Jesus’ power in his weakness. “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses.”; “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses.” His humility (absolute dependence on God) led to his happiness. Have you ever experienced the joy and amazement of God’s power enabling you when you were weak and helpless but prayerfully seeking God’s strength? Have you ever experienced God’s supernatural peace in the very midst of a great trial? Have you ever experienced God’s provision to meet a need you couldn’t possibly meet on your own? Have you ever experienced God’s love and affirmation when you were insulted and/or rejected by someone? If so, then you know what Paul means by gladly boasting in and delighting in his weakness so that Christ’s power may be experienced by him and revealed to others. When this happens, our needs are met and God gets all the glory.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Have you ever experienced the joy and amazement of God’s power enabling you when you were weak and helpless but prayerfully seeking God’s strength? If so, be sure to boast to your friends about your weakness and Christ’s power so Jesus receives glory (“for Christ’s sake”).
CHAPTER 12 – HUMILITY AND EXALTATION – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:6) Murray says we are to take every opportunity to humble ourselves before God and man; that we are to accept with gratitude all trials (James 1:2-4) that God allows – both the inward trials of feelings of inadequacy, fear and doubt, and the outward trials of insults, rejection, sickness and lack, as the opportunity to trust God to exalt us in due time knowing that His grace is sufficient to keep us in the trial and even to help us boast in our weakness and thus His power. As we seek and pray for the humility of Jesus we will come to see the depth of our pride more clearly and our unwillingness to be nothing before God and our utter helplessness to conquer pride. This realization will drive us to our knees to look to God alone to deliver us from this deadly enemy. In Paul’s exhortation to the Christians at Philippi we see our part (which the Lord requires us to do) and God’s part (which only He can do). “Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
God will exalt the man who will humble himself yet we are not to seek humility to get exaltation for ourselves but only for God’s glory. And even then in the eyes of man our faith and humility may not be fully rewarded on this side of heaven as was true for many of the saints. (Hebrews 11:35-39) But you can be certain that it will be fully rewarded in heaven as we stand before Jesus Christ on that Day and then it will redound to the glory of God for all eternity.
“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.” (Psalm 131)
“This is what the LORD says: “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (See Isaiah 66:1-2)
Reflection questions: When and with whom can you practice acts of humility most frequently? (e.g., spouse, children, work associate, difficult friend or family member, others.) Knowing you can’t cast out pride yourself, do you see how your prayer life will grow by leaps and bounds as you look to God almost minute to minute to enable you to humble yourself in thought, word and deed throughout the day?
“Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child. Deliver me from pose and pretense. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou mayest answer this prayer I humble myself before Thee. Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that through it I may find rest. Amen.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God – See Chapter 9 on Meekness and Rest at: http://www.coindy.org/ImageStore/DisplayTableList/7214/files/Tozer_Pursuit_of_God_8282.pdf
Until He Comes Again,
Len and Kristen