Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:10).
THIS reading is by P. T. Forsyth, that most provocative of writers, who brings to our attention a still different aspect
“Humility is a great mystery to itself. It is the amazement of the redeemed soul before itself, or rather before Christ
in itself. It may take the shape of modesty before men, or it may not; humility is not anything which we have in the sight or thought of other men at all. It is the soul’s attitude before God. . . . It can take very active, assertive, and even fiery shape in dealing with men. It is not timidity or nervousness. It is not shy, not embarrassed, not hesitant, not self-conscious, not ill at ease, not a seeker of back seats or mien of low shoulders and drooping head. Yet it is not self-sufficient in a proud and Stoic reserve, nor self-assertive in a public Pharisee fashion. It can never be had either by imitating the humble or by mortifying the flesh. Devotion is not humility, though humility is devout. It is only to be had by the mastery of the Cross which taketh away the self-wrapped guilt of the world.
“With humility goes patience as a supreme confession of faith. Do not think that patience is a way of bearing trouble
only. It is a way of doing work—especially the true secret of not doing too much work. It is a way of carrying success. It is not renouncing will and becoming careless. It is an act of will. It is a piece of manhood. To part with will is to become
a thing. It is not mere resignation or indifference, which often goes with despair and not faith. It is a form of energy, even when it curbs energy. It is the Christian form of bravery, and it has the valor often to be called cowardice. It is the form of energy that converts suffering, and even helplessness, into action. . . .
“It is not very often, comparatively, that the New Testament writers offer Christ as our example. But when they do, it is almost always in connection with His humility and patience and self-sacrificing love. It is His spirit, His faith and love, that are our example, not His conduct, not His way of life.
“Humility is a frame of perfect mind not possible except to faith. It is no more depression and poverty of spirit than it
is loud self-depreciation. It rests on our deep sense of God’s unspeakable gift, on a deep sense of our sin as mastered by God, on a deep sense of the Cross as the power which won that victory. It is not possible where the central value of the Cross is forgotten, where the Cross is only the glorification of self-sacrifice instead of the atonement for sin. A faith that lives outside the atonement must lose humility, as so much Christian faith in a day like this has lost it, as so much worship has lost awe.
“It is very hard, unless we are really and inly broken with Christ on the Cross, to keep from making our self the center
and measure of all the world. This happens even in our well-doing. We may escape from selfishness, but it is hard to escape from a subtle egotism which it is not quite fair to call selfish. This personal masterfulness of ours needs mastering. In many respects it is very useful, but it must go ere God in Christ is done with us. And it is mastered only by the Cross as the one atonement for sin.” —Christian Perfection.
Just as the stream finds a bed that is lowly,
So Jesus walks with the pure and the holy;
Cast out thy pride, and in heartfelt contrition,
Humble thyself to walk with God.
But there is something about deepest humility which makes men bold. For utter obedience is self-forgetful obedience.
No longer do we hesitate and shuffle and apologize. . . . But self-renunciation means God-possession, the being possessed by God. Out of utter humility and self-forgetfulness comes the thunder of the prophets: “Thus saith the Lord.” —Thomas Kelly in A Testament of Devotion.
|Reading 72 in Royal Insignia|