The Posture That Pleases God

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Andrew Murray

What a solemn thought, that our love for God will be measured by our
everyday contact with men and the love it displays; and that our love
for God will be found to be a delusion except as its truth is proved in
standing the test of daily life with our fellow men!

It is even so with our humility. It is easy to think we
humble ourselves before God, but humility toward men will be the only
sufficient proof that our humility before God is real—that humility has
taken up residence in us and become our very nature—that we actually,
like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation. When in the presence
of God lowliness of heart has become not a posture in which we pray to
Him but the very spirit of our life, it will manifest itself in all our
bearing toward others.

 The lesson is an important one: The only humility that is really ours is
not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we
carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct. The
insignificances of daily life are the importances and the tests of
eternity because they prove what the spirit is that possesses us.

It is in our most unguarded moments that we really show
and discern what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble
man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life.

Isn’t this what Jesus taught? It was when the disciples
disputed who should be considered greatest, when He related how the
Pharisees loved the chief place at feasts and the chief seats in the
synagogues, when He had given them the example of washing their feet,
that He taught His lessons of humility. Humility before God is nothing
if not proved in humility before men.

Paul’s teachings confirm this truth. To the Romans he
writes: “In honour preferring one another” (12:10, KJV); “Set not your
mind on high things, but condescend to those that are lowly” (see v.
16); “Be not wise in your own conceits” (v. 16).

To the Corinthians: Love (and there is no love without
humility as its root) “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh
not her own, is not easily provoked” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). To the Galatians:
“Through love be servants one of another. Let us not be desirous of
vainglory, provoking one other, envying one another” (see 5:13,26).

To the Ephesians, immediately after the three wonderful
chapters on heavenly life: “Therefore…walk with all lowliness and
meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (4:1-2);
“Giving thanks always, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear
of God” (5:20-21).

To the Philippians: “Doing nothing through faction or
vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, each counting others better than
himself. Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who
emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself” (see

And to the Colossians: “Put on a heart of compassion,
kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and
forgiving each other, even as the Lord forgave you” (3:12-13).

It is in our relation to one another, in our treatment of
one another, that true lowliness of mind and the heart of humility are
to be seen. Our humility before God has no value except as it prepares
us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow men. Let us study
humility in daily life in the light of these words.

The humble man seeks at all times to act up to the rule,
“In honor preferring one another; Servants one of another; Each counting
others better than himself; Subjecting yourselves one to another.”

The question is often asked, “How can we count others
better than ourselves when we see they are far below us in wisdom and in
holiness, in natural gifts, or in grace received?” The question proves
at once how little we understand what real lowliness of mind is.

True humility comes when, in the light of God, we have
seen ourselves to be nothing, have consented to part with and cast away
self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this and can say, “So
have I lost myself in finding Thee,” no longer compares itself with
others. It has given up forever every thought of self in God’s presence;
it meets its fellow men as one who is nothing and seeks nothing for
itself; it is a servant of God, and for His sake a servant of all.

A faithful servant may be wiser than the master and yet
retain a true spirit and posture of the servant. The humble man looks
upon every child of God, even the feeblest and unworthiest, and honors
him and prefers him in honor as the son of a King. The spirit of Him who
washed the disciples’ feet makes it a joy to us to be indeed the least,
to be servants one of another.

The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise
God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to
hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God’s presence he
has learned to say with Paul, “I am nothing.” He has received the spirit
of Jesus, who pleased not Himself and sought not His own honor, as the
spirit of his life.

Amid the temptations to impatience and touchiness, to hard
thoughts and sharp words that come from the failings and sins of fellow
Christians, the humble man carries the oft-repeated injunction in his
heart, and shows it in his life: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving
one another, even as the Lord forgave you.” He has learned that in
putting on the Lord Jesus he has put on the heart of compassion,
kindness, humility, meekness and long-suffering.

Jesus has taken the place of self, and it is not an
impossibility to forgive as Jesus forgave. His humility does not consist
merely in thoughts or words of self-depreciation, but, as Paul puts it,
in “a heart of humility,” encompassed by compassion and kindness,
meekness and long-suffering—the sweet and lowly gentleness recognized as
the mark of the Lamb of God.

In striving after the higher experiences of a Christian
life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what
one might call the more human virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt
of the world, zeal, self-sacrifice (even the old Stoics taught and
practiced these), while the deeper and gentler, the diviner and more
heavenly graces (those that are more distinctly connected with the cross
and the death of self), such as poverty of spirit, meekness, humility,
and lowliness are scarcely thought of or valued. Therefore, let us put
on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and
long-suffering; and let us prove our Christlikeness, not only in our
zeal for saving the lost, but before all in our interaction with others,
forbearing with and forgiving one another, even as the Lord forgave us.

Fellow Christians, let us study the Bible portrait of the
humble man. And let us ask our fellow believers, and ask the world,
whether they recognize in us the likeness to the original.

Let us be content with nothing less than taking each of
these texts as the promise of what God will work in us, as the
revelation in words of what the Spirit of Jesus will give as a birth
within us. And let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us 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.

Once again I repeat what I’ve said before. I feel deeply
that we have very little conception of what the church suffers from the
lack of divine humility—the nothingness that makes room for God to prove
His power.

Why do men who have joyfully given themselves up for
Christ find it so hard to give themselves up for their brothers? Is not
the blame with the church? It has so little taught its sons and
daughters that the humility of Christ is the first of the virtues, the
best of all the graces and powers of the Spirit. It has so little proved
that a Christlike humility is what it, even like Christ, places and
preaches first—as what is in truth needed, and possible too!

But let us not be discouraged. Let the discovery of the lack of this grace stir us to larger expectation from God.

Let us look upon every brother who tries or vexes us as
God’s means of grace, God’s instrument for our purification—an
opportunity for our exercise of the humility Jesus our Life breathes
within us. And let us have such faith in the All of God, and the nothing
of self, that, as nothing in our own eyes, we may in God’s power seek
only to serve one another in love.

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was an ordained minister in
the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and the author of numerous
devotional works that have become classics, including
Abide in Christ, Absolute Surrender and Waiting on God. Adapted from Humility by Andrew Murray, copyright 1997. Published by Christian Literature Crusade. Used by permission.

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