Recently Kristi and I were walking through a grove of ancient cedar trees in Montana. I stood next to this GIANT tree. Wow! For hundreds of years it’s been stretching higher and higher into the heavens! I felt so small next to this huge and magnificent creation of God and yet at the same time I felt so significant and my soul exclaimed to the Lord, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful!” (Psalm 139:14)
I was reminded of Andrew Murray’s inspiring portrayal of Jesus in his classic devotional book on Humility: The Beauty of Holiness. It’s amazing that when he wrote his book in the late 1800’s this same tree was right there standing strong and tall!
Murray describes the two sides of humility that I felt in the presence of that great tree and the Lord who created us both:
- “Humility is… our joy… [from] being clothed upon with the very beauty and blessedness of heaven and of Jesus” (p. 6).
- “It is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all” (p. 13).
What Humility is Not
The sense of “entire nothingness” does not mean we ought to be self-condemning or self-neglectful because we’re worthless. This is not humility — it’s the pride of being overly self-focused and self-reliant. As Murray says, to be humble is to be “clothed upon with the very beauty and blessedness of heaven and of Jesus.”
We are loved by God and he wants us to receive or agree with his love. This requires that we don’t rely on ourselves but on the Lord as our Creator and Redeemer. To be humble is to depend on God, submit to him, abandon outcomes of situations to him, and find our source in him alone. Without God we have nothing, but with him we have everything!
So Murray urges us, “Reckon humility to be indeed the mother-virtue, your very first duty before God, the one perpetual safeguard of the soul, and set your heart upon it as the source of all blessing” (p. 67).
The Key to Humility: Enthrall Your Mind with Jesus
Murray says the key discipline for becoming more humble is to “study the humility of Jesus.” He insists, “This is the secret, the hidden root of your redemption” (p. 19). Jesus was humble even though he had no sin to confess! How much more ought we to be humble! Jesus shows us that having God as our Creator is the first and main reason for us to live in entire submission and dependence upon him as our all in all.
Jesus shows us the beauty of holiness. When we enthrall our minds with him and adore him with our hearts his Spirit fills us and helps us to become more like him. This excerpt from Humility: The Beauty of Holiness focuses on Jesus’ example of holiness.
May your heart be captivated by the beauty of holiness that’s so evident in the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Humility in the Life of Jesus
An Excerpt from Humility: The Beauty of Holiness by Andrew Murray (written in 1896).
In the Gospel of John we have the inner life of our Lord laid open to us. Jesus speaks frequently of his relation to the Father, of the motives by which he is guided, of his consciousness of the power in which he acts. Though the word humble does not occur, we shall nowhere in Scripture see so clearly where his humility consisted…
In Jesus we shall see how both as the Son of God in heaven, and as man upon earth, he took the place of entire subordination, and gave God the honor and the glory which is due to him. And what he taught so often was made true to himself: “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.” As it is written [of Jesus], “He humbled himself! therefore God highly exalted him.”
Jesus Said, “I Am Nothing, the Father is Everything.”
Listen to the words in which our Lord speaks of his relation to the Father, and see how unceasingly he uses the words not, and nothing, of himself. The not I, in which Paul expresses his relation to Christ [“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20], is the very spirit of what Christ says of his relation to the Father. [In the words of Paul, Jesus’ attitude is, “I live, yet not I, but the Father lives in me.”]
- “The Son can do nothing of himself” (John 5:19).
- “I can of my own self do nothing; My judgment is just, because I seek not my own will” (John 5:30).
- “I receive not glory from men” (John 5:31).
- “I have come not to do my own will” (John 6:38).
- “My teaching is not mine” (John 7:16).
- “I have not come of myself” (John 7:28).
- “I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28).
- “I have not come of myself, but He sent me” (John 8:42).
- “I seek not my own glory” (John 8:50).
- “The words that I say, I speak not from myself” (John 14:10).
- “The word which you hear is not mine” (John 14:24).
These words open to us the deepest roots of Christ’s life and work. They tell us how it was that the Almighty God was able to work his mighty redemption work through him. They show what Christ counted the state of heart which [fit] him as the Son of the Father… He was nothing, that God might be all… Of his own power… will… glory… mission… works… teaching… he said, It is not I; I am nothing; I have given myself to the Father to work; I am nothing, the Father is all.
Jesus’ Humility Before God Made Him Humble Before People Too
This life of entire [self-relinquishment], of absolute submission and dependence upon his Father’s will, Christ found to be one of perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving all to God. God honored his trust, and did all for him, and then exalted him to his own right hand in glory.
And because Christ had thus humbled himself before God, and God was ever before him, he found it possible to humble himself before people too, and to be the Servant of all. His humility was simply the surrender of himself to God, to allow him to do in him what he pleased, whatever people around him might say of him or do to him…
The Indwelling Christ Makes us Humble
We must learn of Jesus, how he is meek and lowly if heart. He teaches us where true humility takes its rise and finds its strength — in the knowledge that it is God who works all in all, that our place is to yield to him in perfect resignation and dependence, in full consent to be and to do nothing of ourselves. This is the life Christ came to reveal and to impart — a life to God that came through death to sin and self. If we feel that this life is too high for us and beyond our reach, it must but the more urge us to seek it in him; it is the indwelling Christ who will live in us this life, meek and lowly…
Every child of God… is nothing but a vessel, a channel, through which the living God can manifest the riches of his wisdom, power, and goodness. The root of all virtue and grace, all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.
It was because this humility was not only a temporary sentiment, wakened up and brought into exercise when he thought of God, but was the very spirit of his whole life, that Jesus was just as humble in his intercourse with people as with God… He never for a moment thought of seeking his own honor, or asserting his power to vindicate himself. His whole spirit was that of a life yielded to God to work in…
Study the Humility of Jesus
Study the humility of Jesus as the very essence of his redemption, as the very blessedness of the life of the Son of God, as the only true relation to the Father, and therefore as that which Jesus must give us if we are to have any part with him…
Friend, are you clothed with humility? Ask your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness you possibly have never yet tasted can come into you.