Book Review: Humility

{By Taylor Turner}


“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C. S. Lewis is addressing a life-long issue commonplace to every person. It is a challenge we recognize as vitally important—and, yet, we don’t always realize its pervasiveness. Humility.

In Humility: True Greatness, C. J. Mahaney provides a practical, thorough handbook for us as we by God’s daily grace are transformed into the likeness of Christ.

humility mahaney

As we begin, let me echo the sentiments that Mahaney shared: “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.” I can fully empathize. Before reading Humility, I knew I was prideful, but having read it in its entirety, all doubt has been removed. This leads me to a warning: there is a war between pride and humility, and neutrality is not an option. If you embark on the life-long journey of “putting off” pride and “putting on” humility, your eyes will be opened to your pride, and a multitude of opportunities will arise when you will have to repent of pride and put on humility.

What is humility? “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” True humility is an equal balance between a right understanding of our sin and Jesus’ holiness.

What is pride? “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.” In short, it is a contest with God for supremacy (which we will loose every time).

So how today, right now, can we help create an environment that fosters humility?

Mahaney provides multiple ways; however, three specific exhortations are insightfully encouraged: meditation on the cross, prayerful communion with God, and laughter at yourself. As we meditate and are drawn to the foot of the cross daily, our thinking will be turned not on ourselves, but toward the glory of Christ. This will ultimately bring us to a genuine realization of our dependence on Christ, leading us to “cast our cares on Him.” Although not a very related exercise, laughing at yourself will breed humility. John Wayne once said, “Life is hard; its harder if you’re stupid”—but when you are stupid, laugh at yourself.

It’s all about Jesus, and because of Him we get to be humble. Don’t miss that. Through the work of the Holy Spirit transforming our minds by means of the Word, local church community, and prayers; we get to be humble. Humility shouldn’t become a new box on a “To-Do” checklist or a New Years’ resolution—most of those fail after only a month anyways.

Moreover, humility isn’t doing certain actions and not doing others. Humility is the posturing of our hearts under the Lordship of Christ. Don’t make a new checklist to legalistically clean up your life; press hard into Jesus. Wash in the Word, live vulnerably in a local community of other believers, pray for your eyes to be opened to your sin and His glory, and repent and believe anew in the good news of Jesus.

Is the posture of your heart humility? Are you living like it really is all about Jesus?

I highly recommend C. J. Mahaney’s Humility as a short, well written, and practical book by another Jesus–follower struggling with pride and striving for humility.

“ . . . for [God] opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. . . but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant . . . . And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2: 5-8