Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Humility

Humility. C.J. Mahaney. 2005. Multnomah. 176 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

Humility is a funny thing. On the one hand, it's an extremely desirable trait. Most of us, as Christians, would say we want to be humble, right? Or at least we want to be thought of as humble. At the same time, few of us have given attention to what being humble actually means. Even fewer have considered what it takes to grow in humility. 

I absolutely loved, loved, LOVED reading C.J. Mahaney's Humility. It is a short book that every believer needs to read. One reason, of course, is that everyone--believer or not--struggles with pride. Becoming a Christian does not remove that struggle with pride. Though the type of pride might shift around a bit and become spiritual pride, or, pride in our spiritual health or growth. Pride wears hundreds of masks after all. And thinking you've conquered all there is to conquer, and that the battle against pride or the battle against self is won once and for all, can be dangerous. (Now, we know that Christ has won the victory, and, that ultimately, that victory will be ours. But the battle is daily. And just because Christ has won, doesn't mean that we can relax and let down our guard against sin. Our problem is that we don't always recognize sin as sin.) Mahaney's book is about humility and pride--being humble and being proud. It is in many ways a book about how to live the Christian life.

In part one, Mahaney shows us "The Promise of Humility" and "The Perils of Pride." In part two, the focus shifts to greatness: "Greatness Redefined" and "Greatness Demonstrated." (The subtitle of this book is TRUE GREATNESS.) In part three, the book turns super-practical. The chapters are: "As Each Day Begins," "As Each Day Ends," "For Special Focus," "Identifying Evidences of Grace," "Encouraging Others," "Inviting and Pursuing Correction," "Responding Humbly to Trials," and "A Legacy of Greatness."

I love the book because it's honest, straight-forward, practical, and above all biblical. The book doesn't waste your time. It's concise and relevant.

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God's holiness and sinfulness. That's the twin reality that all genuine humility is rooted in: God's holiness and our sinfulness. Without an honest awareness of both these realities (and we'll reflect on both throughout this book), all self-evaluation will be skewed and we'll fail to either understand or practice true humility. (22)
The sad fact is that none of us are immune to the logic-defying, blinding effects of pride. Though it shows up in different forms and to differing degrees, it infects us all. The real issue is not if pride exists in your heart; it's where pride exists and how pride is being expressed in your life. Scripture shows us that pride is strongly and dangerously rooted in all our lives, far more than most of us care to admit or even think about. (29)
Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him. (31)
As sinfully and culturally defined, pursuing greatness looks like this: Individuals motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency pursue selfish ambition for the purpose of self-glorification. Contrast that with the pursuit of true greatness as biblically defined: Serving others for the glory of God. (44)
Here's an essential truth: To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus' personal example of humble service. What we need is His death. (47)
Prior to our conversion we were sin's prisoners, and even after our conversion we continue to fight the presence of sin, though we're freed from the power and penalty of sin. And if you aren't aware of this danger, you'll never sufficiently appreciate the significance of His death. It's this captivity to sin and continued tendency to sin that necessitates the Savior's death as a ransom for many. That's the price ransom requires: the life of God's only Son. (53)
Sin--including especially the sin of pride--is active, not passive. Sin doesn't wake up tired, because it hasn't been sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, sin is right there, fully awake, ready to attack. So rather than be attacked by sin in the morning, I've chosen to go on the offensive. I've chosen to announce to sin, "I'm at war with you. I know you're there, and I'm after you." From the moment I awake, I've learned to make statements to God about my dependence upon God, and in this way I'm humbling myself before God. (69)
We watch our hearts and study our hearts in the shadow of the cross as a means of protecting our hearts from the daily presence and opposition of sin. If you don't watch, you'll inevitably weaken. (132)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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