February 16, 2006

Humilty: True Greatness Book Review


C. J. Mahaney

This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit.Isaiah 66:2. So needed. So timely. So beautiful. The humble man is layed out perfectly and plainly. A clear definition of what humility is, what pride is, what pride does, and how to daily cultivate humility. C. J. opens up a gorgeous picture of what true greatness is. He delivers the statement that the Greatest One that walked this earth was humble to show us how to be great. It’s done by death. Sacrifice. Pain. And our Savior leads the way in it. This is not society. This is not the norm. “True greatness is attained only by emulating the Savior’s example—and made possible only by the Savior’s sacrifice.” [p. 58]

The more and more that I take in from Soveriegn Grace Ministries, the more I am refreshed. It is such a cold drink of water to hear a humble, honest testimony of the vastness of man’s depravity contrasted with the infinity of God’s greatness. God is doing some serious work in my soul right now over my inabilities. Through messages, this book, examples of godly men, difficulties, I am seeing more and more the truth that God only uses me when I come to the end of self-reliance. When I come to the end of my ability. C. J. expounds that our first step is admitting we need help. Admitting our inability before God’s all-sufficient ability.

One of the most powerful segments of the book deals with what pride means to God. “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge thier dependance upon Him.” Pride is “contending for supremacy” with God. [p. 31] Ouch. God hates that. He can’t look at it. He doesn’t reward it. It is vile to Him. That’s me. All the time. Doing things God hates. Ouch. God, help me to see the peril of pride that I might love humility with all my heart.

A major deterrent from cultivating humility comes from the all around us. Everything screams to promote self. The world loves to talk about things that are great. Self-exalting skilled people are praised constantly, yet they are farthest from true greatness. Even in my church, not in the leadership, but in the body, it seems that humbling yourself is looked down upon. We get so self-righteous thinking that its not right to talk about where we missed it. We somehow forget that “confessing your faults one to another that ye may be healed,” is in the Bible. It is better to just put up a good looking outside that everyone sees. Vomit. C. J. describes a major problem in churches when discussing with a friend, Jim, why his experience with church was different...why his church split, “Right from the beginning, Covenant Life had...a strong emphasis on humility, especially among the leaders. Jim thought, Nope. That we did not have...When it comes to the values we live by, what will others say about us one day? Will they testify that humility charecterized our lives?” [p. 23] How I need God to work humility in me, that I may be an example to those I touch. It’s time to turn the corner of the norm, self-righteous pride to the truly great, broken humility.

I loved this book. I loved every page. I loved it, but I hated it. The first half of it was a dagger at times, other times it was a sword, other times a big club. Ouch. But amazingly and wonderfully, the end of the book was a wonderful balm for those wounds. C. J. lays out a wonderful plan in the last half of the book. Super practical application of how to work it. Mornings, evenings, words, sports, parenting, trials. It is perfect. His word on sleep was great; I’ve never heard it put that way, but it is so good! Take a chapter a week and try to implement these things and they will go a long way to cultivating humility and weakening pride. How powerful.

Pride takes inumberable forms but has only one end: self-glorification. That’s the motive and ultimate purpose of pride—to rob God of legitimate glory and to pursue self-glorification, contending for supremacy with Him. The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to recieve.

No wonder God opposes pride. No wonder He hates pride. Let that truth sink into your thinking.

To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus’ personal example of humble service. What we need is His death.

There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.


Posted by jonkopp at February 16, 2006 12:41 PM | TrackBack