humility Reading the title alone is enough to make you stop in your tracks, catch your breath, and then keep perusing the rest of the available books.  I mean, who really wants to read a book on humility?  Surely, if you do, then you must have a problem with pride, and who wants to admit that?  Most of us would assume that this book was written for really arrogant people.  Those who can’t stop talking about themselves and what they’ve accomplished.  You know, those people.

Enter this small, unassuming book.  In it author C.J. Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace churches and ministries, pours out his heart and shares his own journey on the quest for humility.  That’s right … a quest.  A quest that apparently we all need.

Mahaney opens the book by delineating the problem of humanity – the battle between humility and pride.  Quick to refute the idea that humility is simply having a meek spirit and quiet mouth, the author defines humility as “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness” (22). On the other hand, the battle of pride is not a matter of if, but of where and how.  Ultimately, the battle with pride is an assault against the supremacy of God and an attempt to usurp His authority.  While it is an inescapable battle that everyone must face, the author reminds us that it is not out of reach or too difficult.

The next part of the book moves into the theological support for the arguments.  In order to combat this enemy of pride and cultivate humility, we must redefine our thinking.  According to Mahaney, in order to truly understand humility, we must allow the Scriptures to redefine what we see as true greatness and what truly demonstrates that greatness.  He reminds us that over and over again, the Scriptures present Christ as a servant, a man on a mission to serve others.  Mahaney highlights this Divine purpose of Christ’s as a supreme example for our own lives.  In addition, he emphasizes Christ’s sacrificial death as the why and the how we serve.  Because Christ came to give His life as a ransom, so also are we to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  In fact, Mahaney even states that “apart from His sacrifice there is no serving” (58).

After setting a theological foundation for humility, the author then moves into a more practical section of the book.  The portion offers a surprise, yet refreshing, view of cultivating humility.  In my experience, the few books you find written on humility focus more on changing yourself … what YOU can do to make YOUR heart humble.  Not so this book!  Mahaney begins this “practical” section by pointing us to God … know your God, know His character, and know His purpose.  With those things in mind, surely one cannot maintain a high view of self for too long.  He then begins to turn our focus to others – noticing the work of God in others and encouraging those evidences of grace.  His words flow from a heart of experience and truly motivate one to become others-focused.  With a passionate God-focus and a deliberate others-focus, there is little room left for a me-focus.  Mahaney also emphasizes the need to invite and implement correction from others.  Again, the reader is challenged to turn the focus from self to the wisdom, love, and exhortation from others.

Mahaney closes his book with a final call to embrace sufferings and trials as opportunities to cultivate humility.  Not only this, but he also calls the reader to consider what legacy of greatness you are leaving behind for your family.  Here we are reminded that true greatness is not found in titles, promotions, high self-esteem, or the applause of others.  Rather, true greatness is recognizing the greatness of our God, seeing ourselves as He sees us, and pouring our lives into others.

The call to humility is a call for all believers.  In this rather short and quickly read book, Mahaney presents a sound argument for biblical humility and how we are to cultivate it.  Reading this book and seeking to implement its truth is a worthy endeavor … and yes, this book is available in the Providence Café Bookstore.

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