Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 11

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.
1 Peter 5:5-6

Wide open are Thine arms,
A fallen world to embrace;
To take to love and endless rest
Our whole forsaken race.
Lord, I am sad and poor,
But boundless is Thy grace;
Give me the soul transforming joy
For which I seek Thy face.
12th Century

         One of the chief signs of the unrenewed spirit is the haughty self-complacency with which it bears itself.  To resent an insult; to stand upon fancied rights; to vaunt superiority; to show “the silver, and gold, and spices, and precious ointment,” in the ostentatious and vainglorious way which brought reproof and chastisement on Hezekiah—this is the manner of the world.

And this insidious sin of pride dies hard in the child of God; nay, it may be questioned if ever we shall be perfectly quit of it on this side of the gates of pearl. Christian men are proud of their houses, and carriages, and wealth, and position.  Christian women are proud of their person, and dress, and rank and children. Christian ministers are proud of their influence, and sermons, and the admiration they receive. A bit of flattery, a newspaper notice, a conscious success, are food enough for pride to grow fat upon, until it begins to fancy that all the world is thinking of it, and feels that the most extravagant praise is but a grudging tribute to its worth.

May I not press this upon my readers further, urging each to consider his own character and behavior in the light of these words. We must be convicted of pride before we seek the grace of true humility. Pride is one of the most detestable of sins; yet does it find lodgment in earnest souls, though we often speak of it by some lighter name. We call it independence, self-reliance.  We do not always discern it in the hurt feeling, which retires into itself, and nurses its sorrows in a sulk.

The metaphor used in this passage is surely derived from that most touching incident on the eve of the crucifixion, when, though having present to His mind His origin and destiny, our Lord took upon Him the form of a servant. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”(John 13: 3-5) What a lovely vesture did that stripping that towel, that lowly attitude, between them make! Not even when He stood radiant on the Mount of Transfiguration did He seem to be dressed so fair.  Surely Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as He.  And so the injunction comes to us all, that we should adopt the same livery, and each one don His garb. “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility.”

“His sweet dews and showers of grace slide off the mountains of pride, and fall on the low valleys of humble hearts, making them pleasant and fertile. The swelling heart, puffed up with a fancy of fullness, hath no room for grace. The humble heart is most capacious, and, as being emptied and hallowed, can hold most.” (Leighton)
Tried by Fire

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