Humility: True Greatness (pt. 1)

My young married/families/singles class has been studying pride and humility. The basis for this study is obviously God’s Word. In particular, we are using a few books to help us in our study (Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney; Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne Mack; and From Pride to Humility by Stuart Scott). Surprisingly, this series has been humbling (especially for the teacher). I would like to review the 5th chapter of Mahaney’s book for your edification (In other words, if something sounds profound then realize the source it came from).

CJ writes, “Here’s a scary thought: It’s possible to admire humility while remaining proud ourselves.” Sometimes knowledge can have the opposite effect? 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” We can grow in head knowledge but still remain unchanged in ours heart. We can read sound theological blogs, go to a strong seminary, sit under fabulous expository preaching and yet still grow cold in our faith.

Thus, the need to make every effort to apply the truths we hear at church (or on the internet or in a book, etc). James 1:22-25; For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

True saving faith acts out what it believes; genuine faith WORKS! Therefore, there must be the purposeful application of truth in our lives. Pastor Mahaney puts it this way, “I must consider how DAILY, DILIGENTLY, and DELIBERATELY (I can) weaken my greatest enemy (pride) and strengthen my greatest friend (all motivated by the grace of the cross).

If you don’t set up battle plans in your Christian life you are in for major setbacks. Any Christian counselor will establish this reality with you right away. Spiritual growth requires spiritual sweat.

We are now going to look at some of the life lessons that Pastor Mahaney has employed in his own life in hopes that some of his ideas may spur us on in our Christian lives. How we begin our morning OFTEN sets the tone for the day (true?)! “As Each Day Begins we should consider (#1) Reflecting on the Wonder of the Cross.” John Owen wrote, “Fill your affections with the cross of Christ, that there may be no room for sin.” How do you think meditating on the Cross will help crush pride in our lives?”

In song we readily admit this reality: When I survey the wondrous cross/On which the Prince of glory died/My richest gain I count but loss/And pour contempt on all my pride. Where do you suppose the hymnist went in Scripture to support this reality? Where is a personal testimony like this recorded? I bet he was familiar with Philippians 3:7-14. Paul’s autobiography is basically recorded in this short section of Scripture. 7 But whatever gain I had (see vv. 1-6), I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

John Stott put it this way, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, I am here because of YOU. It is YOUR sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying. Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until WE have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our size.”

Friends, how many of us would admit that there are times when God’s grace doesn’t amaze us like it should? When we grow soo familiar with the facts surrounding the cross that our hearts grow callous to the wonders of the cross? When the thought of partaking of communion doesn’t truly excite us like it use to? This is a major problem! What happens when the cross becomes dull to us? When God’s grace doesn’t amaze us like it us to? We grow callous towards sin. We become complacent in our spiritual life. We grow self-centered and prideful and the list could go on and on.

CJ is right on, we should begin our day (#1) by reflecting on the wonders of the cross.

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