Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wayne and Joshua Mack's Humility: The Forgotten Virtue. The shirt of the soul is put on first and put off last.

"No one who knows the Bible and is a careful observer of human beings will dispute that pride is and has always been a gigantic problem in the world," writes Dr. Wayne Mack in the Preface of his book, Humility: The Forgotten Virtue. I first encountered Dr. Mack, a known Bible scholar and professor of Biblical Counseling at the Master's College, in his book, Life in the Father's House.

Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne Mack

In this short but important work, he attempts to "understand pride and humility from a biblical perspective" in the hope of diminishing the "destructive pride factor" and to increase the "true humility factor" in our lives. The book follows the 4D outline: a biblical definition of what pride and humility are, the display of pride and humility, how humility can be developed, and how pride can be diminished. At the end of each chapter are simple guide questions that readers are encouraged to answer.

This is the book's working definition of pride and humility:
Pride consists in attributing to ourselves and demanding for ourselves the honor, privileges, prerogatives, right, and power that are due to God alone. Thus it is the very root of sin because pride, at its core, is idolatry of self . . . Humility, then, consists in an attitude wherein we recognize our own insignificance and unworthiness before God and attribute to Him the supreme honor, praise, prerogatives, rights, privileges, worship, devotion, authority, submission, and obedience that He alone deserves.
Dr. Mack goes on to illustrate how a humble person is like.
  • A truly humble person has an abiding sense of his natural insignificance, as compared to God. 
  • A truly humble person has an abiding sense of his moral insignificance and sinfulness, as compared to God. 
  • A person who is truly humble has a theocentric mindset. A person who thinks theocentrically puts God in the center of everything.
  • A person who is truly humble attributes to God supreme honor, praise, rights, and privileges.
  • A truly humble person is not selfishly ambitious and greedy of honor among or over other people.
  • A humble person is not ostentatious.
  • A truly humble person is not arrogant and assuming in his relationships with people.
  • A truly humble person is not scornful of, contentious with, or violent toward other people.
  • A truly humble person is not willful and stubborn in his relationships with people.
  • A truly humble person does not try to level those who are over him down to his own level.
  • A truly humble person is willing to receive and benefit from biblical instruction, biblical rebukes, biblical reproof, and constructive criticism.
The author then discusses the folly of pride, its consequences, and its practical manifestations. He repeatedly mentions that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Pride is at the very heart of folly. It is foolish because of God's opinion of pride as an abomination and because we are nothing apart from Christ . . . One of the things that make pride so dangerous is that it can be so hard for us to spot it in ourselves. The very definition of pride is thinking better of ourselves than we really are. It is not suprising, then, that proud people do not usually see their pride.
So how, then, can true humility be developed?
The path to true humility begins with the new birth. The Bible makes it clear that no unsaved person can be truly humble . . . The beginning of true humility, then, is the awareness of our total depravity that comes with the initial work of the Holy Spirit in salvation. Only through the work of the Spirit in our hearts are we able to see our desperate need for God.
Dr. Mack cites Jesus Christ as the perfect example of humility—the God of glory who became incarnate, who was born in a manger, who suffered and died on the Cross for sins He did not commit.
Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
This work has been a rebuke and encouragement to me—which explains why it took me longer than usual to finish a book. I am, after all, a person who constantly struggles with this sin perhaps to a greater degree than some people. I look at the pride checklist, and I get almost-perfect scores. I look at the humility checklist, and I see what I failure I am. And yet many times I am not consciously aware of these things. Wasn't it Robert Murray M'Cheyne who said, "I know I am proud; and yet I do not know the half of that pride"? Jonathan Edwards, twenty years after his conversion, groaned about the "bottomless, infinite depths of pride" left in his heart. I can pretty much say the same things today.

For such is pride. According to Joel Beeke, it "feeds off nearly everything: a fair measure of humility and wisdom, a single compliment, a season of unremarkable prosperity, or as small accomplishment." Apart from God's grace, a man cannot deal with it alone. George Swinnock wrote, "Pride is the shirt of the soul, put on first and put off last."

But God has been gracious to such a wretch as I am. I pray for the day when all this pride will finally be stripped away, and I will rush into the arms of my Savior who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

I am—as all of God's children are—a work in progress.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt that this what I needed to hear and read about. Thanks for the post Lance. God is really working through you. :D
He always has His ways. Thanks again! May your posts continue to bring God closer to others :) -AA

Sun Dec 04, 06:11:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

I'm glad you got something from this, AAce.

Tue Dec 06, 09:39:00 PM GMT+8  

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