There are many virtues in the Christian life that we like to focus on, try to develop and establish as a habitual lifestyle. We strive to be honest, loving, non-judgmental, etc… How often do we strive to be humble? It is indeed the forgotten virtue.
Humility strikes a direct blow to our pride and so-called self-esteem. It cuts against the grain of what the world strives for. It swims upstream to the current flow of society. However, for the Christian it should mark our lives.
Wayne and Josh Mack have written about this forgotten virtue in their book, Humility: The Forgotten Virtue. In typical Mack fashion, the depths of Scripture are plumbed to bring to the surface what God has to say about this important aspect of the Christian life. They reveal the ugliness and putrescence of pride, which is the enemy of humility, while establishing a portrait of what humility should look like in the life of a believer.
For a definition of humility, the Mack’s say that it “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” (p.26). After presenting this working definition of humility, they go on to present the display of humility as well as the development of humility.
The display of humility is in how it manifests itself toward God and toward other people. Toward God, humility is manifested by the “free and sincere confession of one’s insignificance and sinfulness” (p.34), and “by a complete lack of trust in one’s own heart and complete dependence on God for all things” (p.35). This display of humility toward God is presented in eight more ways throughout this chapter.
The display of humility toward other people is given two chapters in order to examine the various ways it is manifested. Toward man, humility is displayed by not being “selfishly ambitious and greedy of honor among or over other people” (p.62), or by “being ostentatious” (a show-off) (p.71).
The development of humility begins with an understanding of its sinister nemesis, pride and the folly thereof. The Mack’s give us six reasons why it is foolish for believers to be proud, including God’s attitude toward it, what it produces, the consequences of it and because of Jesus’ humility. With this examination of the foolishness of pride, the book concludes with two chapters on how to develop humility in the life of a believer.
Of course, this is where the rubber hits the road. All the knowledge of humility and pride can itself become a source of pride. The Mack’s warn at the beginning of the book that a study of humility is useless unless it is followed by practice. The last two chapters are dedicated to helping the believer develop this forgotten virtue. Along the way, each chapter includes a self-test for the reader to examine himself to help identify and weaken pride while at the same time laying a foundation for developing humility.
This is, in my opinion, the best book on humility that I’ve seen. It is thorough and thoroughly biblical. Jim Elliff said of this book, “Sometimes a book reads you while you are reading it. This is that kind of book.”