Humility and Holiness

We hear a great deal about holiness. The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God's holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. In Jesus, the Holy One of God Who makes us holy, a divine humility was the secret of His life, 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.

The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Every seeker after holiness needs to be on his guard, so that unconsciously what was begun in the Spirit is not perfected in the flesh, and pride does not creep in where its presence is least expected. Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, the other a publican. There is no place or position so sacred that the "Pharisee" cannot enter. Pride can lift its head in the very temple of God and make His worship the scene of its self-exaltation.

Since the time Christ so exposed his pride, the Pharisee has put on the garb of the publican. The confessor of deep sinfulness equally with the professor of the highest holiness must be on the watch. Just when we are most anxious to have our heart be the temple of God, we will find the two men coming up to pray. The publican will find that his danger is not from the Pharisee beside him, who despises him, but from the Pharisee within, who commends and exalts. In God's temple, when we think we are in the holiest of all, in the presence of His holiness, let us beware of pride.

"God, I thank thee, I am not as other men... or even as this publican" (LUKE 18:11). Self finds its cause of complacency in the very thanksgiving which we render to God, and in the very confession that God has done it all. Yes, even in the temple, when the language of penitence and trust in God's mercy alone is heard, the Pharisee may take up the note of praise, and in thanking God be congratulating himself. Pride can clothe itself in the garments of praise or of penitence.

Even though the words, "I am not as other men", are rejected and condemned, their spirit may too often be found in our feelings and language toward our fellow-worshippers and fellowmen. If you want to know if this is really so, just listen to the way in which churches and Christians often speak of one another. How little of the meekness and gentleness of Jesus is to be seen. It is so little remembered that deep humility must be the keynote of what the servants of Jesus say of themselves or each other.

Is there not many a church or assembly of the saints, many a mission or convention, many a society or committee, even many a mission away in heathendom, where the harmony has been disturbed and the work of God hindered?

Is it not because men who are counted saints have proved in touchiness and haste and impatience, in self-defence and self-assertion, in sharp judgments and unkind words, that they did not each esteem others better than themselves? Is it not because their holiness has in it little of the meekness of the saints?

In their spiritual history, men may have had times of great humbling and brokenness, but what a different thing this is from being clothed with humility and from having a humble spirit. How different this is from having that lowliness of mind in which each counts himself the servant of others, and so shows forth the very mind which was also in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the Holy One, is the humble One. The holiest will always be the humblest. There is none holy but God. We have as much of holiness as we have of God. And according to what we have of God will be our real humility, because humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.

Where man becomes nothing before God, he cannot be anything but humble toward his fellowmen. The presence of God becomes not a thing of times and seasons, but the covering under which the soul always dwells. Its deep humility before God becomes the holy place of His presence from which all its words and works proceed.

May God teach us that our thoughts and words and feelings concerning our fellowmen are His test of our humility toward Him. May He teach us that our humility before Him is the only power that can enable us to be always humble with our fellowmen. Our humility must be the life of Christ, the Lamb of God, within us.

by Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a pastor in South Africa and a leader in the Holiness Movement.

Abridged from Humility (Whitaker House)

Taken from HQL-9952, p. 8-9