The Necessity of Humility
“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and highest virtue of man. It is the root of every virtue.” So wrote Andrew Murray in his classic work simply entitled, “Humility.” Over this last week, I was reading this book and preparing for the Saturday evening Bible study which we host every week in my home. In the fifth chapter of John, Andrew Murray’s theory is proven true by the actions and teachings for Jesus.
The chapter opens up with a scene of desperate need. Surrounding a pool of water in the ancient city of Jerusalem, lie a great number of sickly and handicapped people. They wait in anticapation for any disturbance in the water. It was believed that occasionally an angel would come down from heaven and stir the water. The first to get into the water, once it was disturbed, would be healed of his illness or infirmity. Apparently, there was some validity to this belief, for there they waited.
He admits that unless he receives help, he believes that Jesus' question is irrelevant.
Upon this scene enters Jesus. Selecting one man, who had been there perhaps longer than any other, Jesus addresses him with a simple question. “Wilt thou be made whole?” Not knowing who is addressing him, the man reveals that after years of trying to reach the water first, he is incapable of doing so. He admits that unless he receives help, he believes that Jesus’ question is irrelevant. Whereas he wished to be clean, such wishing would never be rewarded, unless he had assistance. This man had reached a point of humility. He had come to admit his own incapability for healing. Upon such an honest answer, Jesus commands him to rise, pick up his bed, and walk, and then gives him the ability to do so!
The self-righteous Jews quickly found fault! First they rebuked the man who was now carrying his bed on the Sabbath. When the healed man referred them to Jesus as the one who commanded him to do so, they desired to kill Jesus. Because he had broken the law of God? No, but because He had not kept their tradition and in so doing had challenged their authority. In response to their anger, Jesus replied that they were not his authoirty, but that He was theirs. Undersatnding that He was claiming to be equal with God, they became incensed and sought even more to kill him.
... the self-righteous had no desire to be healed by Jesus.
After a brief defense of his deity, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter. In verse 40, He states,” ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” The word “will” has the same root as the word “wilt” which Jesus used when questioning the lame man’s desire to be healed. Whereas, the lame man wanted to be healed, but found himself incapable of attaining health, the self-righteous had no desire to be healed by Jesus.
It is hard to love a God which you must impress in order to find acceptance.
It is not that they didn’t want to have eternal life, it is that they were unwilling to admit their need for Jesus in order to attain it. They were so worried about receiving honor from men that they would not admit their weakness and inability ot keep God’s law. Therefore, they were very religious, but had no actual love for God. It is hard to love a God which you must impress in order to find acceptance. It is much easier to love a God which loves us and offers us acceptance in the Beloved. Instead of seeking for the grace of God extended by the Son of God, they sought to be made pleasing by obeying the law. Yet, it was that same law which was condemning them as sinners. The law is the standard for righteousness and it was put in place to reveal to us our unrighteouness by our inability to obey it. Only pride can blind us to the fact that we are not worthy. Pride is based opon the lie that we are “ok”, and humility is based upon the truth which tells us we need help.
Humility is rooted in truth. Do you struggle with pride? Look in the truth of God’s Word and let it work as a mirror which reveals your sinfulness and inability. When the truth of your situation is made clear, what recousre it their but to call out to God for help? The help which God offers is called grace. In James 4, we read, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.” It is because of verses like this, that Andrew Murray wrote about the importance of humility! If God is resisting you because of your pride, what hope do you have of winning? If God is giving you grace (or help), is there any limit to the possibilities. Truly humility is a necessity!