By Andrew Murray
gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the strength of
Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore
I take pleasure in weaknesses: for
when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor.12:9-10).
Lest Paul should exalt himself
because of the exceeding greatness of revelations given him, a thorn in the
flesh was sent him to keep him humble. Paul's
first desire was to have it removed, and he besought the Lord thrice that it
might depart. The answer came that the trial was a blessing, that in the
weakness and humiliation it brought, the grace and strength of the Lord could
be better manifested. Paul at
once entered upon a new stage in his relation to the trial.
Instead of simply enduring it, he most gladly gloried in it.
Instead of asking for deliverance, he took pleasure in it.
He had learned that the place of humiliation is the place of blessing,
of power, of joy.
Every Christian passes through
these two stages in his pursuit of humility.
In the first he fears and flees and seeks deliverance from all that can
humble him. He has not yet
learned to seek humility at any cost. He
has accepted the command to be humble, and seeks to obey it, though only to
find how utterly he fails. He
prays for humility, at times very earnestly, but in his secret heart he prays
more, if not in word then in wish, to be kept from the very things that will
make him humble. He is not yet so
in love with humility as the beauty of the Lamb of God and the joy of heaven,
that he would sell all to procure it.
In his pursuit of it and his prayer for it, there is still somewhat of
a sense of burden and bondage. To humble himself has not yet become the
spontaneous expression of a life and a nature that is essentially humble.
It has not yet become his joy and only pleasure.
He cannot yet say, "Most gladly do I glory in weakness, I take
pleasure in whatever humbles me."
But can we hope to reach the stage
in which this will be the case? Undoubtedly. And what will it be that brings us there?
That which brought Paul there--a new revelation of the Lord
Jesus. Nothing but the
presence of God can reveal and expel self.
A clearer insight was to be given to Paul into the deep truth that the presence of Jesus will banish every desire to seek anything in ourselves, and will make us delight in every humiliation that prepares us for His fuller manifestation. Our humiliations lead us, in the experience of the presence and power of Jesus, to choose humility as our highest blessing. Let us try and learn the lessons the story of Paul teaches us.
We may have advanced believers,
eminent teachers, men of heavenly experiences, who have not yet fully learned
the lesson of perfect humility, gladly glorying in weakness.
We see this in Paul. The
danger of exalting himself was coming very near.
He did not yet know perfectly what it was to be nothing, to die that
Christ alone might live in him, to take pleasure in all that brought him low. It appears as if this were the highest lesson that he had to
learn, full conformity to his Lord in that self-emptying where he gloried in
weakness that God might be all.
The Highest Lesson
The highest lesson a believer has to learn is humility. Oh that every Christian who seeks to advance in holiness may
remember this well! There may be
intense consecration, and fervent zeal and heavenly experience, and yet, if it
is not prevented by very special dealings of the Lord, there may be an
unconscious self-exaltation with it all. Let
us learn the lesson--the highest holiness is the deepest humility.
And let us remember that it comes not of itself but only as it is made a
matter of special dealing on the part of our faithful Lord and His faithful
Let us look at our lives in the light
of this experience, and see whether we gladly glory in weakness, whether we take
pleasure, as Paul did, in injuries, in necessities, in distresses.
Yes, let us ask whether we have learned to regard a reproof, just or
unjust, a reproach from friend or enemy, an injury, or trouble, or difficulty
into which others bring us, as above all an opportunity of proving how Jesus is
all to us, how our own pleasure or honor are nothing, and how humiliation is in
very truth that in which we take pleasure.
It is indeed blessed, the deep happiness of heaven, to be so free from
self that whatever is said of us or done to us is lost and swallowed up in the
thought that Jesus is all.
Let us trust Him who took charge of
Paul to take charge of us too. Paul
needed special discipline, and with it special instruction to learn what was
more precious than even the unutterable things he had heard in heaven--what it
is to glory in weakness and lowliness. We
need it, too, oh so much!
He who cared for him will care for us too.
The school in which Jesus taught Paul is our school too.
He watches over us with a jealous loving care, "lest we exalt
ourselves." When we are doing
so, He seeks to discover to us the evil and deliver us from it.
In trial and weakness and trouble He seeks to bring us low, until we so
learn that His grace is all as to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us
and keeps us low.
His strength made perfect in our weakness and His presence filling and
satisfying our emptiness becomes the secret of a humility that need never fail.
In full sight of what God works in us and through us, it can ever say as
did Paul, "In nothing was I behind the chiefest apostles, though I am
nothing." His humiliations had led him to true humility with its
wonderful gladness and glorying and pleasure in all that humbles.
"Most gladly will I glory in my
weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; wherefore I take pleasure
in weaknesses." The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness.
The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, the greater his humiliations
appear, the more the power and the presence of Christ are his portion.
Then as he says, "I am nothing,"
the word of his Lord brings ever deeper joy:
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
I feel as if I must once again gather
up all in the two lessons: the
danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think, and the grace for humility
The danger of pride is greater and
nearer than we think, and that especially at the time of our highest
experiences. The preacher of
spiritual truth with an admiring congregation hanging on his lips, the gifted
speaker on a platform expounding the secrets of the heavenly life, the Christian
giving testimony to a blessed experience, the evangelist moving on in triumph
and made a blessing to rejoicing multitudes -- no man knows the hidden, the
unconscious danger to which these are exposed.
Paul was in danger without knowing
it. What Jesus did for him is
written for our admonition, that we may know our danger and know our only
safety. If ever it has been said of
a teacher or professor of holiness -- he is so full of self, or he does not
practice what he preaches, or his blessing has not made him humbler or gentler
-- let it be said no more. Jesus,
in whom we trust, can make us humble.
Yes, the grace for humility is
greater and nearer, too, than we think.
The humility of Jesus is our salvation.
Jesus Himself is our humility. Our
humility is His care and His work. His
grace is sufficient for us to meet the temptation of pride too.
His strength will be perfected in our weakness. Let us choose to be weak,
to be low, to be nothing. Let
humility be to us joy and gladness. Let
us gladly glory and take pleasure in weakness, in all that can humble us and
keep us low. The power of Christ
will rest upon us.
Christ humbled Himself; therefore God
exalted Him. Christ will humble us
and keep us humble. Let us heartily consent, let us trustfully and joyfully
accept all that humbles. The power
of Christ will rest upon us. We
shall find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, of a
joy that nothing can destroy.
From Humility, The Beauty of
Holiness, by Andrew Murray.