`And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?' -- Micah 6:8
`Learn of me that I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.' -- Matt. 11:29
One of the most dangerous enemies against which the young Christian must watch, is pride or self-exaltation. There is no sin that works more cunningly and more hiddenly. It knows how to penetrate into everything, even into our service for God, our prayers -- yea, even into our humility: there is nothing so small in the earthly life, nothing so holy in the spiritual life, that self-exaltation does not know to extract its nutriment out of. (2 Chron. 26:5,16; 32:26,31; Isa. 65:5; Jer. 7:4; 2 Cor. 12:7) The Christian must therefore be on his guard against it, must listen to what Scripture teaches about it, and about the lowliness whereby it is driven out.
Man was created to have part in the glory of God. He obtains this by surrendering himself to the glorification of God. The more he seeks that the glory of God only shall be seen in him, the more does this glory rest upon himself. (Isa. 43:7,21; John 12:28; 13:31,32; 27:1,4,5; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Thess. 1:11,12) The more he forgets and loses himself, desiring to be nothing, that God may be all and be alone glorified, the more happy shall he be.
By sin this design has been thwarted: man seeks himself and his own will. (Rom. 1:21,23) Grace has come to restore what sin has corrupted, and to bring man to glory by the pathway of dying unto himself and living solely for the glory of God. This is the humility or lowliness of which Jesus is the exemplar: He took no thought for Himself, He have himself over wholly to glorify the Father (John 8:50 Phil. 2:7)
He who would be freed from self-exaltation must not think to obtain this by striving against its mere workings. No: pride must be driven out and kept out by humility. The Spirit of life in Christ, the Spirit of His lowliness, will work in us true lowliness. (Rom. 8:2; Phil. 2:5)
The means that He will chiefly use for this end is the word. It is by the word that we are cleansed from sin; it is by the word that we are sanctified and filled with the love of God.
Observe what the word says about this point. It speaks of God's aversion to pride, and the punishment that comes upon it. (Ps. 31:24; Prov. 26:5; Matt. 23:12; Luke 1:51; Jas. 4:5; 1 Pet. 5:5) It gives the most glorious promises to the lowly. (Ps. 34:19; Prov. 11:2; Isa. 57: 15; Luke 9:48; 14:11; 18:14) In well-nigh every Epistle, humility is commended to Christians as one of the first virtues. (Rom. 12:3,16; 1 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:22,26; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; Col. 2:13) It is the feature in the image of Jesus which He seeks chiefly to impress on His disciples. His whole incarnation and redemption has its roots in His humiliation. (Matt. 20:26,28; Luke 22:27; John 13:14,15; Phil. 2:7,8)
Take singly some of these words of God from time to time and lay them up in your heart. The tree of life yields many different kinds of seed -- the seed also of the heavenly plant, lowliness. The seeds are the words of God. Carry them in your heart: they shall shoot up and yield fruit. (1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:21)
Consider, moreover, how lovely, how becoming, how well-pleasing to God, lowliness is. As man, created for the honour of God, you find it befitting you. (Gen. 1:27; 1 Cor. 11:7) As a sinner, deeply unworthy, you have nothing more to urge against it. (Job 40:6; Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8) As a redeemed soul, who knows that only through the death of the natural I does the way to the new life lie, you find it indispensable. (Rom. 7:18; 1 Cor. 25:9,10; Gal. 2:20)
But here, as everywhere in the life of grace, let faith be the chief thing. Believe in the power of the eternal life that works in you. Believe in the power of Jesus, who is your life. Believe in the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. Attempt not to hide your pride, or to forget it, or to root it out yourself. Confess this sin, with every working of it that you trace, in the sure confidence that the blood cleanses, that the Spirit sanctifies. Learn of Jesus that He is meek and lowly in heart. Consider that He is your life, with all that He has. Believe that He gives His humility to you. The word: `Do it to the Lord Jesus,' means, `Be clothed with the Lord Jesus.' Be clothed with humility, in order that you may be clothed with Jesus. It is Christ in you that shall fill you with humility.
Blessed Lord Jesus, there never was any one amongst the children of men so high, so holy, so glorious as Thou. And never was there any one who was so lowly and ready to deny himself as the servant of all. O Lord, when shall we learn that lowliness is the grace by which man can be most closely conformed to the divine glory? O teach me this. Amen.
1. Take heed that you do nothing to feed pride on the part of others. Take heed that you do not suffer others to feed your pride. Take heed, above all, that you do nothing yourself to feed your pride. Let God alone always and in all things obtain the honour. Endeavour to observe all that is good in His children, and to thank Him heartily for it. Thank Him for all that helps you to hold yourself in small esteem, whether it be sent through friend or foe. Resolve, especially, never on any account to be eagerly bent on your own honour, when this is not accorded to you as it ought to be. Commit this to the Father: take heed only to His honour.
2. By no means suppose that faint-heartedness or doubting is lowliness. Deep humility and strong faith go together. The centurion who said: `I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof,' and the woman who said: `Yea, Lord, yet even the dogs eat of the crumbs' -- these two were the most humble and the most trustful that the Lord found (see Matt. 8:10; 15:28). The reason is this: the nearer we are to God, the less we are in ourselves, but the stronger we are in Him. The more I see of God, the less I become, the deeper is my confidence in Him. To become lowly, let God fill eye and heart. Where God is all, there is no time or place for man.