May 21, 2014 | by: 0 Comments|
As we meditated on James 3:13-18 this past Sunday, we thought a lot about humility. As I look forward to the text that we’ll study, Lord willing, this coming Sunday (James 4:1-12), it is clear that humility is going to be something that we’re considering again. As I’ve prayerfully read over the text these last couple of days, I’ve been thinking again about Jonathan Edwards’ definition of humility:
“Humility may be defined to be a habit of mind and heart corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness before God, or a sense of our own comparative meanness (by which he means small) in his sight, with the disposition to a behavior answerable thereto” (Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, p. 130).
As I mentioned this past Sunday, one of the things I appreciate about this definition of humility is that Edwards defines humility as a “habit of mind and heart.” Humility, Edwards says, is a discipline. We give ourselves to thinking out of this framework. It is a discipline of constantly considering in our minds and hearts “our comparative unworthiness and vileness before God.” As we consider that God is our maker and that we owe our life and breath to him, we realize how powerful he is and how weak we are. As we consider the fact that God is perfectly righteous and that we are unrighteous and stained by sin in every way, we realize how holy he is and how vile we are.
When we consider our state before God, we see our great need. When we consider the fact that Jesus is the Savior and we are not, and that we need him to save us from our sins and the punishment due to them, we are appropriately humbled. The final piece of Edwards’ definition is that this habit of mind and heart will be followed by “behavior answerable thereto,” or behavior that is consistent with this understanding that God is perfectly holy and we are not.
In many ways, humility is seen most clearly in our service to God and others. So, do you recognize that you are not so important that everyone must serve you? In contrast to that, do you recognize that God is so important that you must be his servant to others? Recognizing that Christ humbled himself to serve us in the most eternally significant way should humble us to serve others even in the most temporally insignificant ways.
I pray that God would be pleased to put pride to death in our lives, so that we might truly (humbly) live like our Savior, for humility thrives when pride dies.
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