The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

High-minded vs. humble-minded #2 Describing humble-mindedness

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[ Dissecting high-mindedness ~ Describing humble-mindedness ~ Destroying high-mindedness and developing humble-mindedness ]

Humble-mindedness is a counter-natural, counter-cultural habit of thought that sees oneself as ‘low-lying’ and therefore sincerely and genuinely esteems others better than oneself.

The world despises such an attitude: it is something to be avoided or overcome.  Paul invests it with gospel honour and calls us not just to accept it, but to pursue it.  The wilderness of the proud heart is to be cleared of the weeds of pride; the flowers of humility are to be planted in their place.

I  What is it not

(1) NOT morbidly despising and ignoring one’s own God-given gifts and graces (1Cor 15.10; Rom 12.3-8).

(2) NOT dishonest pretence with regard to plain distinctions of gift, grace, calling, experience, and spiritual maturity (1Cor 12.18-21).

(3) NOT despairing renunciation of hopeful and holy labour and ambition (1Cor 15.10, 1Cor 11).

(4) NOT a practical impossibility.

II How, positively, is it manifested?

(1) In attitudes and actions primarily regarding others.

  • Sincere joy at the gifts and graces manifested and rewarded in others (1Sam 18.8 cf. 20.31; Barnabas).
  • Imputing the best motives to others and believing the best of them (1Cor 13.7).
  • Speaking well rather than ill of others (Eph 4.29; 2Sam 1.17-27).
  • Patience with the faults, sins, weaknesses and ignorance of others (as they must bear with us).
  • Recognise, acknowledge, commend and encourage the gifts and graces given to and revealed in others (see how Paul opens his letters).
  • Readiness to relinquish what promotes my ‘glory’ for the advancement of others; a willingness to make room for the gifts of others.
  • Thoughtful willingness to promote the good of the whole body at one’s own expense, if need be (Phil 1.23-4; 1Thes 2.8-9).

In brief, a servant (not servile) attitude to others.

(2) In attitudes and actions primarily regarding oneself.

  • Patient waiting for your gifts and graces to make room for you (Prv 18.16; Paul).
  • Readily receiving warnings and counsel about genuine specks in your eye, even when delivered – often inexpertly – by someone with a beam in theirs.
  • Searching for the beam in your own eye when you see a speck in another’s eye.
  • A comely reticence to put yourself forward, not thrusting yourself to prominence and demanding attention, with a modest and cheerful silence if overlooked and underestimated (Acts 16.1-3; Prv 27.2).
  • Pursuit of transparent consistency between how we wish to be thought of and appear publicly and how we truly are privately.

In brief, a servant perspective on oneself.

These attitudes and actions give birth to most happiness when others are most exalted.  Humble-mindedness is “a genuine and sincere selflessness that seeks out how best to serve and promote the good of others and willing undertakes whatever service comes our way – high or low, public or private, esteemed or despised by men – with pure motives and earnest desires for the good of others.”

A church characterised by humble-mindedness grows in love, peace and unity: it is a community of servant-hearted men and women all esteeming and watching out for the best for one another, striving without internal jealousies and rivalries for the glory of Christ, the crowned head of the whole body.

Paul brings Christ to bear upon all excuses and obstacles: we have good reasons in our creatureliness and sinfulness for a lowliness of mind that esteems others better than ourselves; Christ is the holy Creator, who nevertheless stooped to the point of the cursed death of the cross under the wrath of God, demonstrating and displaying that very attitude and disposition that should characterise all his people.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 4 March 2010 at 08:36

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