These are all from Murray’s book, Humility.
Andrew Murray’s remarkable accomplishments make him someone worth listening to on this subject. He had an awful lot to be proud of yet seemed to know an awful lot about humility.
1. First a definition
Define humility in 15 words or less. Murray boiled it down to this:
“Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”
2. The bloom and beauty of holiness
Here Murray describes humility as the secret of Jesus’ life and the true test of our holiness.
“In Jesus, the Holy One of God who makes us holy, a divine humility was the secret of His life and His death and His exaltation; the one infallible test of our holiness will be the humility before God and men which marks us. Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness.”
3. No pride so dangerous as the pride of holiness
A friendly warning to the Holiness Movement of his day.
“Let all teachers of holiness, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, and all seekers after holiness, whether in the closet or the convention, take warning. There is no pride so dangerous, because none so subtle and insidious, as the pride of holiness. It is not that a man ever says, or even thinks, “Stand by; I am holier than thou.” No, indeed, the thought would be regarded with abhorrence. But there grows up, all unconsciously, a hidden habit of soul, which feels complacency in its attainments, and cannot help seeing how far it is in advance of others. It can be recognized, not always in any special self-assertion or self-laudation, but simply in the absence of that deep self-abasement which cannot but be the mark of the soul that has seen the glory of God (Job 42: 5, 6; Isa.6: 5). It reveals itself, not only in words or thoughts, but in a tone, a way of speaking of others, in which those who have the gift of spiritual discernment cannot but recognize the power of self.”
4. Faith accomplishes more with humility than without it
Here Murray acknowledges that God honors faith and uses some people mightily because of their faith, yet he maintains that the fruit of their labor is “superficially and transitory” because of their lack of humility. He may have a point. We don’t know the names of these powerful-yet-proud preachers that Murray is referring to. Meanwhile, Murray’s books are still being read after 150 years.
“You perhaps feel inclined to ask a question. I have spoken of some who have blessed experiences, or are the means of bringing blessing to others, and yet are lacking in humility. You ask whether these do not prove that they have true, even strong faith, though they show too clearly that they still seek too much the honor that cometh from men. There is more than one answer can be given. But the principal answer in our present connection is this: They indeed have a measure of faith, in proportion to which, with the special gifts bestowed upon them, is the blessing they bring to others. But in that very blessing the work of their faith is hindered, through the lack of humility. The blessing is often superficial or transitory, just because they are not the nothing that opens the way for God to be all. A deeper humility would without doubt bring a deeper and fuller blessing. The Holy Spirit not only working in them as a Spirit of power, but dwelling in them in the fullness of His grace, and specially that of humility, would through them communicate Himself to these converts for a life of power and holiness and steadfastness now all too little seen.”
5. You have to really want it
A description of someone who wants to be humble but also wants to avoid humbling circumstances.
“Every Christian virtually passes through these two stages in his pursuit of humility. In the first he fears and flees and seeks deliverance from all that can humble him. He has not yet learnt to seek humility at any cost. He has accepted the command to be humble, and seeks to obey it, though only to find how utterly he fails. He prays for humility, at times very earnestly; but in his secret heart he prays more, if not in word, then in wish, to be kept from the very things that will make him humble. He is not yet so in love with humility as the beauty of the Lamb of God, and the joy of heaven, that he would sell all to procure it. In his pursuit of it, and his prayer for it, there is still somewhat of a sense of burden and of bondage; to humble himself has not yet become the spontaneous expression of a life and a nature that is essentially humble. It has not yet become his joy and only pleasure. He cannot yet say, ‘Most gladly do I glory in weakness, I take pleasure in whatever humbles me.'”
6. Our part and God’s part
Even when we quietly accept every humbling circumstance that comes our way, that, in itself, is still not humility. It merely serves as evidence that we truly desire humility, which only God can give. Your best effort at humbling yourself will be inadequate but it will be a sign of your sincerity; it won’t be true humility but it will be “the very best prayer for it.”
“Accept every humiliation, look upon every fellow-man who tries or vexes you, as a means of grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow-men as a help to abide humble before God. God will accept such humbling of yourself as the proof that your whole heart desires it, as the very best prayer for it, as your preparation for His mighty work of grace, when, by the mighty strengthening of His Holy Spirit, He reveals Christ fully in you, so that He, in His form of a servant, is truly formed in you, and dwells in your heart.”
7. God exalts us in humility, not out of it
1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due season.” Here is Andrew Murray arguing that the real humility doesn’t come when you humble yourself, but when God exalts you. The exaltation that God promises is, in fact, more humility: the true, spiritual, indwelling humility of the exalted Jesus Christ.
“The exaltation God promises is not, cannot be, any external thing apart from Himself: all that He has to give or can give is only more of Himself, Himself to take more complete possession. The exaltation is not, like an earthly prize, something arbitrary, in no necessary connection with the conduct to be rewarded. No, but it is in its very nature the effect and result of the humbling of ourselves. It is nothing but the gift of such a divine indwelling humility, such a conformity to and possession of the humility of the Lamb of God, as fits us for receiving fully the indwelling of God.”