Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 7]

Andrew Murray 2As I continue with my series of posts on Andrew Murray‘s brief book Humility, today I look at both chapter seven, “Humility and Holiness,” and chapter eight, “Humility and Sin.” These two chapters augment one another as counterpoints on similar themes.

In addressing the relationship between humility and holiness, Murray writes: “Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness.” As he has done before with other aspects of our walk with Christ, Murray returns to the theme of humility being the proof of our holiness.

The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it be manifest in the increasing humility it produces.

This flows from Murray’s conviction that humility is a direct reflection of the character of God revealed in Jesus’ life and teaching. Thus, he can say at one point in this chapter: “the holiest will ever be the humblest.” This is so, he writes, because:

humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all….And where the creature becomes nothing before God; it cannot be anything but humble towards the fellow-creature.

This leads directly into the central theme of chapter eight, “Humility and Sin,” where he describes humility as “the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.” Similar to his comments in the preface to the book, Murray is intent on differentiating between what he see as an unhelpful over-emphasis on and fixation with our sinfulness and the appropriately needful sense of our need for grace that leads us to fixation on the glory of God in Christ.

The point which I wish to emphasize is this: that the very fact of the absence of such confession of sinning [in the writings of the Apostle Paul] only gives more force to the truth that it is not in daily sinning that the secret of the deeper humility will be found, but in the habitual, never for a moment to be forgotten position, which just the more abundant grace will keep more distinctly alive, that our only place, the only place of blessing, our one abiding position before God, must be that of those whose highest joy it is to confess that they are sinners saved by grace.

Although the flow of language could use some editing, the flow of thought is overall clear. If we want greater humility, we must not become fixated upon our daily struggle with sin but with the greater grace of God that overcomes our sin. The way toward this is what has sometimes been called the expulsive power of Christ’s presence in our lives:

As health expels disease, and light swallows up darkness, and life conquers death, the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit is the health and light and life of the soul.

Putting it even more clearly, Murray writes:

Being occupied with self, even amid the deepest self-abhorrence, can never free us from self. It is the revelation of God, not only by the law condemning sin but by His grace delivering from it, that will make us humble. The law may break the heart with fear; it is only grace that works that sweet humility which becomes a joy to the souls as its second nature.

Both in terms of holiness and sin, Andrew Murray emphasizes the grace of God and His presence in our lives through Christ as more valuable than anguish over sin as the key.

Do you agree with Murray’s emphasis? 

What have you found to be most helpful in your own growth in humility?

[Read the entire series of posts on Andrew Murray’s book Humility here.]

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 6]

Andrew Murray 2Continuing with my posts from Andrew Murray‘s short book Humility, I turn to chapter six, “Humility in Daily Life.”

Time and again in this chapter Murray returns to the theme that any supposed humility we have before God will be proved true, or not, by the humility with which we relate to those around us.

Here are a sample of those related quotations:

It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real.

Humility before God is nothing if not proved in humility before men.

Our humility before God has no value, but as it prepared us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow-men.

Join me in reflecting on how truly humility has taken root in our lives? Do we see it not only in our private attitude before God but also in the public interactions we have with others?

A list of Scripture passages that Murray references may clarify where we stand on this:

  • “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
  • “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16).
  • “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
  • “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
  • “Be completely humble and gentle” (Ephesians 4:2).
  • “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
  • “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7).
  • “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13).

If, like me, you feel a bit low on the humility scale after reading these passages, perhaps it would do us good, as Murray says, “to turn humbly and meekly to the meek and lowly Lamb of God, in the assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.”

May God make much of us by truly humbling us, and may the humbling in the hands of God bring the joy of the abundant life that Christ promises.

[Read the entire series of posts on Andrew Murray’s book Humility here.]

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 3]

Andrew Murray 2Over the next 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. I am spending time first with his short book Humility.

In chapter 3, Murray looks in a more focused way at the humility evident in Jesus’ life. He turns it around like a gem in his hand to identify and reflect on its different facets. He then compares Jesus’ humility to our approach to God. The following series of quotes caught my attention:Read More »

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 2]

Andrew Murray 2Over 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. I am spending time first with his short book Humility, which a friend shared with me recently.

In the second chapter of the book, Murray draws attention to the way in which humility is the secret of our redemption in Jesus Christ. On the one hand, an honest assessment of our own need and the power of sin in our lives should lead us into a humility caused by our own inability and powerlessness. On the other hand, the very humility of Jesus should encourage us that the pathway to redemption comes through His humility and our humble response to Him. Here is Murray on Jesus’ humility and its tie to our redemption:Read More »

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 1]

Andrew Murray 2Over 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:

  1. The urge toward humility as a creature  – “The first we see in the heavenly hosts, in unfallen man, in Jesus as Son of Man.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”

Read More »