Excerpt taken from Humility by Wayne Mack

Here is an excerpt taken from pages 25-30 Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne A. Mack.

Humility Defined

In order to define humility, we will start by looking at the definition of humility’s opposite: pride. What is pride? Pride consists in attributing to ourselves and demanding for ourselves the honor, privileges, prerogatives, rights, and power that are due to God alone. Thus, it is the very root and essence of sin because pride, at its core, is idolatry of self. A proud person has put himself or herself in God’s place.

Humility, then, consists in an attitude wherein we recognize our own insignificance and unworthiness before God and attribute to Him the supreme honor, praise, prerogatives, rights, privileges, worship, devotion, authority, submission, and obedience that He alone deserves. It also involves a natural, habitual tendency to think and behave in a manner that appropriately expresses this attitude. In other words, the attitude of humility is always seen in humble actions. It means having a servant’s mind-set and always putting self last.

Now that we have generally defined humility, let us consider each aspect of this definition so that we can more fully understand this important quality. The more we understand in detail what true humility is, the better we will understand our own deficiency and great need of more of it in our lives.

First, a truly humble person has an abiding sense of his natural insignificance, as compared to God. Abraham exhibited this attitude when he said, “ ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes’ ” (Gen. 18:27). Abraham was deeply aware of the incredible insignificance of his knowledge and understanding compared to the wisdom of God. Job also showed this aspect of humility when, after being thoroughly tested by God, he said, “ ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth’ ” (Job 40:4). Job finally came to the place of recognizing God’s infinite natural superiority to man.

Humble people have a great sense of their ignorance, their weakness, and their unimportance. They know that if “the nations are like a drop from a bucket” in God’s eyes (Isa. 40:15), then they are far, far less than that. They recognize the insufficiency of their own power. They understand that only God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-wise, full of grace and truth and righteousness. They realize that they are totally dependent on God for everything: wisdom, health, safety, and even the ability to obey. In fact, it is only by God’s grace that we can even do anything that pleases Him.

Still further, humble people are deeply aware of their lack of greatness and lack of right to exercise authority over anyone. On the other hand, they are acutely aware of God’s greatness and God’s supreme right to rule over all. This means that truly humble people put themselves entirely under God’s authority. Whatever God says to do or not do, they obey completely and without question because they recognize the Creator–creature distinction. God is the Creator, and we are His creatures.

Second, a truly humble person has an abiding sense of his moral insignificance and sinfulness, as compared to God. Isaiah demonstrated this sense when he said, “ ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips’ ” (Isa. 6:5). The publican, in Luke 18:13, showed this aspect of humility as well when he stood at a distance from the altar, refused to look up to heaven, beat his chest, and said, “ ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ ”

To put it another way, a truly humble person has an accurate sense of his unworthiness before God. In Genesis 32:10, Jacob expressed this humility of spirit when he said, “ ‘I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant. . . .’ ” David also acknowledged his unworthiness when he asked, “ ‘Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’ ” (2 Sam. 7:18).

Indeed, truly humble people read a passage such as Romans 3:10–18 and think to themselves, “This is me! This is my heart that is being described”:

As it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Third, a person who is truly humble has a theocentric mindset. A person who thinks theocentrically puts God at the center of everything. God is his Master. This is in contrast to the proud person, who has an anthropocentric mind-set, in which man is at the center of everything. To be more exact, self is at the center of everything in the mind of the proud person. He is his own master, and everyone and everything else exists to please him and to serve his needs. As a result, he takes the throne in his own heart and, in reality, worships himself. Not only that, but he demands that everyone else worship him as well.

The humble person, on the other hand, has a servant’s mind-set. He desires to worship, love, and serve God at all times, and he demonstrates this mind-set daily by loving and serving other people. He would much rather deny himself than exalt himself or be exalted by others. He has the mind of Christ, who said that “ ‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’ ” (Matt. 20:28).

Fourth, a person who is truly humble attributes to God supreme honor, praise, rights, and privileges. God alone is worshiped and exalted, as Jesus said in Matthew 4:10: “ ‘For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only.” ’ ” A humble person is devoted to God in a way that he is devoted to no one else in his life. He acknowledges God as his supreme authority in all matters of life. What God says is what he does.

The humble man also recognizes that everything good that he has comes from the hand of God. He knows that God is the source of all things, the means of all things, and the goal of all things. He says with Paul, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). He realizes that it is his great privilege to live his life for the glory of God in everything that he does because He alone is worthy.

Personal Evaluation

If we truly desire to grow in this quality of humility, we must be willing to take the time to honestly examine and evaluate ourselves in terms of this definition. Is our heart over- whelmed by the truth of our natural insignificance before the Almighty God? Are we painfully aware of our sinfulness and unworthiness before a Holy God? Is God the constant center around which our thoughts, desires, words, and actions revolve? Do we give Him alone our worship, praise, devotion, and obedience?

An honest appraisal of our hearts will no doubt reveal that we fall far short in all of these ways. None of us is truly humble as we ought to be and truly void of pride. Because I agree that pride is the first sin to rear its head when we’re born and the last to go when we die, and because humility is such an important, but forgotten and neglected virtue, I encourage you to seriously and expectantly devour and apply the material in this book. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan was on target biblically when he indicated that the valley of humiliation is a valley that every Christian will encounter and needs to encounter as he journeys through the wilderness of this world toward heaven. Praise God that He loves us so much that He is willing to humiliate us in order to rid us of our awful pride!


Excerpt taken from pages 25-30 Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne A. Mack, copyright 2005, P&R Publishing.

Reformed Academic Dissertations

P&R Publishing has a long and distinguished history of publishing carefully selected, high-value theological books in the Reformed tradition. Many theological books begin as dissertations, but many dissertations are worthy of publication in their own right. Realizing this, P&R has launched the Reformed Academic Dissertation (RAD) program to publish top-tier dissertations (Ph.D., Th.D., D.Min., and Th.M.) that advance biblical and theological scholarship by making distinctive contributions in the areas of theology, ethics, biblical studies, apologetics, and counseling.

Dissertations in the RAD series are curated, which means that they are carefully selected, on the basis of strong recommendations by the authors’ supervisors and examiners and by our internal readers, to be part of our collection. Each selected dissertation will provide clear, fresh, and engaging insights about significant theological issues.

A number of theological institutions have partnered with us to recommend dissertations that they believe worthy of publication in the RAD series. Not only does this provide increased visibility for participating institutions, it also makes outstanding dissertations available to a broad range of readers, while helping to introduce promising authors to the publishing world.

We look forward to seeing the RAD program grow into a large collection of curated dissertations that will help to advance Reformed scholarship and learning.

John J. Hughes

Series Editor

Excerpt taken from Heart Aflame

Here is an excerpt taken from page 238 of Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin in the Psalms by John Calvin.

August 25

Psalm 97:10-12

Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Those that fear God are here enjoined to practise righteousness, as Paul says, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Tim. 2:19). He shows from the very nature of God, that we cannot be judged and acknowledged to be his servants unless we depart from sin, and practise holiness. God is in himself the foundation of righteousness, and he must necessarily hate all iniquity, unless we could suppose that he should deny himself; and we have fellowship with him only on the terms of separation from unrighteousness. As the persecution of the wicked is apt to provoke us to seek revenge, and unwarrantable methods of escape, the Psalmist guards us against this temptation, by asserting that God is the keeper and protector of his people. If persuaded of being under the Divine guardianship, we will not strive with the wicked, nor retaliate injury upon those who have wronged us, but commit our safety to him who will faithfully defend it. This gracious act of condescension, by which God takes us under his care, should serve as a check to any impatience we might feel in abstaining from what is evil, and preserving the course of integrity under provocation.

Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.

We have seen that the Lord’s people are often treated with the utmost cruelty and injustice, and would seem to be abandoned to the fury of their enemies. The Psalmist reminds us for our encouragement that God, even when he does not immediately deliver his children, upholds them by his secret power. Righteousness does not consist in a mere outward appearance, but comprehends integrity of heart, more being required to constitute us righteous in God’s sight than that we simply keep our tongue, hands, or feet, from wickedness. The Lord’s people, looking upon God as their Redeemer, should lead a life corresponding to the mercy they have received, and rest contented under all the evils they encounter, with the consciousness that they enjoy his protection.


Excerpt taken from page 238 of Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin in the Psalms by John Calvin, copyright 1999 by P&R Publishing.

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT — James Montgomery Boice

James Montgomery Boice (BA, Harvard; BD, Princeton; ThD, University of Basel) was the pastor of historic Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although he died in 2000, he can still be heard today on the radio ministry The Bible Study Hour.

   

1. Here We Stand!: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals for a Modern Reformation (Coeditor: Benjamin E. Sasse)

208 pages | $14.99 | Released: 2004 | Paperback

Evangelicals “have abandoned the truths of the Bible and the historic theology of the church, which expresses those truths,” writes coeditor Boice. “We are trying to do the work of God by means of the world’s ‘theology,’ wisdom, methods, and agenda instead.” Here We Stand! calls churches to return to the authority of the Bible and to apply it faithfully in their worship, ministry, policies, life, and evangelism.

2. Jesus on Trial (Coauthor: Philip Graham Ryken)

128 pages | $9.99 | Released: 2009 | Paperback

An investigation into each stage of the judicial process Jesus endured: revealing crucial details about Jewish/Roman law that you may have missed. You, the juror, get to learn what he came to do.

3. The Christ of Christmas

192 pages | $11.99 | Released: 2009 | Paperback | Sample Chapter

The Christmas story is more than sentimental: it is powerful and strikingly unusual. In this collection of Christmas insights, Dr. Boice emphasizes the incredible implications of Christ’s arrival on earth.

4. The Christ of the Empty Tomb

208 pages | $11.99 | Released: 2010 | Paperback

James Boice’s fresh, relevant meditations on Easter will revive your excitement for Jesus’ victorious resurrection. He presents the resurrection as a fact of history and focuses us on the real reason for our celebration.


COMING SOON

The Life of Moses: God’s First Deliverer of Israel

Estimated Page Count: 432 | Hardcover | List Price: $29.99

We learn much about faithfulness, meekness, prayer, and leadership from the example of Moses, the renowned lawgiver and prophet. James Boice uncovers rich meaning and application as he delves into the narrative of Moses’ life—a story that ultimately points to the awesome power of God and the promise of a much needed, much greater Deliverer.

 

NEW RELEASE — Resolving Conflict by Lou Priolo

Resolving Conflict: How to Make, Disturb, and Keep Peace by Lou Priolo

320 pages | List Price: $15.99 | Paperback

Summary

Many Christians see conflict as a dirty word—something wrong to be avoided at all costs. After all, aren’t Christians to be peacemakers who strive to maintain unity? But, as Lou Priolo reminds us, many other things that the Bible exhorts us to do—including its commands to convict, rebuke, and admonish other Christians—make conflict a necessary part of the Christian life.

Lou takes us through the biblical principles of conflict resolution, beginning before conflict even starts. He shows us the prerequisites we must have as we go into conflict, what is at the heart of our conflict, when it is biblical and unbiblical, and how we should respond to it. He also shares practical steps and advice, giving us specific talking points to resolve conflict and journaling exercises to help us to grow when it happens. Learn how to “make every effort” to maintain unity—even when that effort involves conflict first!

Endorsement

“Conflicts are like forest fires. If you can put them out while they’re still small, you can save an enormous amount of time and effort. That’s why this book is so valuable: it provides simple, biblically sound, and incredibly effective insights for resolving conflict in its earliest stages, when it still involves only two people. If you learn and practice these principles, you will spend more time enjoying the people around you—rather than fighting prolonged relational fires.”

—Ken Sande, President, Relational Wisdom 360; Author, The Peacemaker

About the Author

Lou Priolo is the founder and president of Competent to Counsel International and is an instructor with Birmingham Theological Seminary. He has been a full-time biblical counselor since 1985 and is a fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Lou lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Sophia and Gabriella.