Over the next number of weeks, I am interacting with some of the writings of Andrew Murray. Murray was a South African pastor and missionary during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Murray is probably best known for his book With Christ in the School of Prayer, but he has many other valuable works.
My writing here was prompted by a conversation I had recently with a friend in town who shared Murray’s book Humility with me. Murray begins that book by distinguishing between three motives that urge us toward humility:
- The urge toward humility as a creature – “The first we see in the heavenly hosts, in unfallen man, in Jesus as Son of Man.”
- The urge toward humility as a sinner – “The second appeals to us in our fallen state, and points out the only way through which we can return to our right place as creatures.”
- The urge toward humility as a saint – “In the third we have the mystery of grace, which teaches us that, as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the consummation of everlasting blessedness and adoration.”
Murray says that in his day most attention was given to the second urge, leading many toward self-condemnation. He spends most of his effort in Humility giving attention to the first cause and the resultant work of the grace of God in the third urge.
Here are two quotations that struck me from the preface and first chapter of the book. This first reflects on the contrast between those two urges to humility that Murray outlines. I appreciate the positive aspect of humility he brings to our attention here.
When we see that humility is something infinitely deeper than contrition, and accept it as our participation in the life of Jesus, we shall begin to learn that it is our true nobility, and that to prove it in being servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny, as men created in the image of God.
This next quotation emphasizes the centrality of humility, in contrast to pride, in the life of the Christian.
The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of humility, is the root of every sin and evil….Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.
What do you think about Murray’s words on humility?
Would you describe yourself as a humble person or not?
What has helped you to grow in humility? What has hindered the roots of humility in your life?