Here is the note I wrote in last week’s bulletin about our January Book of the Month:
In New Testament times, humility was not considered a virtue. In the minds of the ancients, it was a sign of weakness which was the result of being forced into submission by someone who is greater than you. So humility was actually considered a vice, rather than the virtue. And not much has changed in the passing centuries. The world around us does not view humility to be beneficial, commendable, or virtuous. Instead, we look up to the aggressive types, who get what they want at all costs, won’t take no for an answer, and will not allow anyone to get in their way. Even in the church, would-be celebrities are honored, while servant-leaders are marginalized. Consequently, the life, message, and example of the Lord Jesus Christ is just as shockingly offensive to us today as it was when Jesus walked the earth in the flesh. To those who desire to be great, Jesus says, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
This is the message of Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney is the former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Maryland. After serving this congregation as one of its founding pastors for twenty-seven years, Mahaney stepped down last year to allow the young man he had been grooming, Joshua Harris, to lead the congregation into the future. This is a great act of humility. Yet, Mahaney describes himself by saying: “I’m a proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God. I don’t write as an authority on humility; I write as a fellow pilgrim walking with you on the path set for us by our humble Savior.” And it is with this personal devotion to Christlike humility that Mahaney writes this biblical, practical, and passionate call to humility. In Isaiah 66:2, God says, “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Affirming the fact that God’s gaze is on the humble, Mahaney calls us to active spiritual warfare against our own pride. He expounds on this point by focusing on how the Lord Jesus both redefined and demonstrated greatness for us. And the final half of the book is filled with practical application to assist the pursuit and practice of true humility. Quoting John Stott, Humility reminds us: “At every state of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.”