Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 10]

Andrew Murray 2This week I continue “Thursdays with Murray” by concluding my study of Andrew Murray’s short book Humility. Last week, I jumped ahead and talked about the final chapter in relationship with chapter ten. So this week I return to chapter eleven, “Humility and Happiness,” as the last part of the book about which I will write.

Beginning with similar themes seen throughout this book, in this chapter Murray says “the highest lesson a believer has to learn is humility.” However, lest we begin to think that Murray is set on a bleak picture of the life of faith crowded with dark shadows, he also writes: “the place of humiliation is the place of blessing, of power, of joy.”

How can this be true? Murray helps us to understand that if humility is the expulsion of the self, it can only truly be expelled with the presence and glory of God. And if our souls are filled not with ourselves but with the fullness of the presence and glory of God, this can in no way be anything else but the experience of the greatest joy in God.

In trial and weakness and trouble He seeks to bring us low, until we so learn that His grace is all, as to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength made perfect in our weakness, His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail….

I feel as if I must once again gather up all in the two lessons: the danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think, and the grace for humility too.

These two realities underly the entire breadth of Murray’s book. He wants us as believers to experience both the depths of humility in the Cross of Christ and the heights of exaltation in the resurrection of Christ so that we might enter into the abundant life through Christ. It is his conviction that there is no other way to this great reality than to walk the pathway of humility upon which Jesus walked. That is truly the way of the disciple.

Christ humbled Himself, therefore God exalted Him. Christ will humble us, and keep us humble; let us heartily consent, let us trustfully and joyfully accept all that humbles; and the power of Christ will rest upon us. We shall find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, of a joy that nothing can destroy.

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

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 9]

Andrew Murray 2Continuing my series of posts on Andrew Murray‘s brief book Humility, today I look at both chapter ten, “Humility and Death to Self,” and chapter twelve, “Humility and Exaltation.” While I admit I’m pulling these two chapters slightly out of order, I believe they fit together as two book-ends around chapter eleven (which we’ll look at next week) on “Humility and Happiness.”

“Death to self” is a phrase that we don’t hear too often any longer but derives from Paul’s description of Jesus in Philippians 2:8 (“he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death”) and Jesus’ teaching on discipleship in Luke 9:23 (“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”). On this theme and its connection with humility, Andrew Murray writes:

The first and chief of the marks of the dying of the Lord Jesus, of the death-marks that show the true follower of Jesus, is humility. For these two reasons: Only humility leads to perfect death; Only death perfects humility.

This chapter comes into strong conflict with the prevailing approach to Christianity in our day as strongly as any other aspect of Murray’s book. In a time when we are focused so much on self-actualization, finding our gifts, understanding our personality, living out our uniqueness, the call toward death to self and its defining mark of humility seems like a message from another age. Read More »

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 8]

Andrew Murray 2In chapter nine of his book HumilityAndrew Murray explores the connection between “Humility and Faith.” The benefits of the Christian life, according to Murray, are something we can see but not access until the gift of faith comes into our lives. Faith is not only trust in God or the ability to perceive the heavenly blessings of God, but at its root that deep sense that we need God. For, as Murray writes, faith is “the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work.”

This is where the connection between faith and humility becomes evident. Faith cannot develop until we have the humility of right perception of who we are and who we are not before God. Faith cannot take root in our lives until we fundamentally turn from ourselves and from others to God. Pride and faith are inimical to one another and, therefore, “we never can have more of true faith than we have of true humility.”

This touches upon the outlook we have in our lives. The outlook of faith is truly a looking outward from the self to God beyond the opinions of other people or our society.

As long as we take glory from one another, as long as ever we seek and love and jealously guard the glory of this life, the honor and reputation that comes from men we do not seek, and cannot receive the glory that comes from God.

Faith removes the misdirected fears of our lives into a holy fear of the Lord that shapes our living with humility.

It is humility that brings a soul to be nothing before God, that also removes every hindrance to faith, and makes it only fear lest it should dishonor Him by not trusting Him wholly.

Faith is the characteristic that enables us to truly draw near to God. This very act of drawing near aright demands a humility for entrance and an ongoing humility of dependence upon God to bear fruit.

We might as well attempt to see without eyes, or live without breath, as believe or draw night to Go or dwell in His love without an all-pervading humility and lowliness of heart.

Murray concludes this chapter with an emphasis on humility being a channel of a deeper experience of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives. There is a difference, in a sense, of having the Spirit of God move through us and the Spirit of God having ongoing residence in us.

The Holy Spirit not only working in them as a Spirit of power, but dwelling in them in the fullness of His grace, and specially that of humility, would through them communicate Himself to these convert for a life of power and holiness and steadfastness now all too little seen.

I am reminded of F. B. Meyer’s quotation:

There are three kinds of Christians out there. Christ’s Spirit is present in everybody who’s born again. Christ’s Spirit is prominent in some people. And Christ’s Spirit is preeminent in, alas, only a few.

May we be the humble in whom Christ’s Spirit is not only present, not only prominent, but preeminent.

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

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 5]

Andrew Murray 2As I continue interacting with Andrew Murray’s writings over the next number of weeks, I am currently spending time first with his short book Humility. In the fifth chapter of the book, Murray turns his attention from humility in the life and teaching of Jesus to the humility of Jesus’ disciples.

As one might expect, the disciples have both a grasp upon humility and a lack of humility at the same time. I find this encouraging since this is often my personal experience with humility in my own life. Murray highlights three aspects of the disciples’ struggle with humility that parallels what we often see in the life of Christians:Read More »

Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 4]

Andrew Murray 2As I continue interacting with Andrew Murray’s writings over the next number of weeks, I am currently spending time first with his short book Humility, which a friend shared with my recently.

After looking at how humility is the secret of our salvation and the way in which Jesus models humility in his life, Murray focuses on Jesus’ explicit teaching on humility in the fourth chapter of the book.

Murray comments briefly on a series of verses on meekness and humility from Jesus before drawing summary comments later. I found it helpful simply to read those verses one after another:

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
  • “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
  • “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.'” (Luke 9:46-48)
  • “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” (Matthew 20:25-28)
  • “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
  • “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
  • “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
  • “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
  • “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26)

Let me ask you a question: which of these verses stands out to you most and why? Read More »