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Humility: True Greatness Hardcover – September 30, 2005
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About the Author
C. J. Mahaney leads Sovereign Grace Ministries in its mission to establish and support local churches. He served as pastor of Covenant Life Church in a Maryland suburb of Washington , D.C. , for twenty-seven years and is author of The Cross- Centered Life, Christ Our Mediator, and Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know. C. J. and his wife, Carolyn, have three married daughters and one son. They make their home in Gaithersburg , Maryland .
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Part 1: Our Greatest Friend, Our Greatest Enemy
- The Promise of Humility
- The Perils of Pride
Part 2: The Great Reversal
- Greatness Redefined
- Greatness Demonstrated
Part 3: Our Great Pursuit
- As Each Day Begins
- As Each Day Ends
- For Special Focus
- Identifying Evidences of Grace
- Encouraging Others
- Inviting and Pursuing Correction
- Responding Humbly to Trials
- A Legacy of Greatness
- A Final Word
- How to Weaken Pride and Cultivate Humility: A List of Suggestions
This book should be required reading for every Christian. Sadly today, our churches and larger denominational ministries foster a sense of pride and achievement. We must recover an understanding of true greatness if we want to see victory in the Christian life and true revival in our generation.
Although, he would certainly deny it (as is clear, if you have ever had the privilege of hearing him speak) Mahaney himself is truly a humble man, and I believe that is one of the reasons he has been so mightily used by God. Buy the book, and get started learning humility.
The book is divided into three sections. Part one deals with the battle of humility versus pride, part two with our Savior and the secret of true greatness and part three with the practice of true humility.
In the first part, Mahaney defines humility and shows how true humility is nothing less than a battle against the pride that lives deep within every heart. "Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in the light of God's holiness and our sinfulness." These two realities must be the foundation of any definition of humility: our sinfulness and God's holiness. This is precisely why true greatness can only be achieved by followers of Jesus Christ, for only they have had their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit to see the depth of their own depravity and the overwhelming holiness of God.
Mahaney teaches, rightly I believe, that God hates the sin of pride above all other sin. This is a sin that plagues all humans, though it manifests itself in different ways. So the issue facing the believer is he examines his life is not if pride is present, but where it is present. For most of us it is deeply ingrained in our lives and only a great amount of Spirit-guided self-examination can draw it to the surface.
In the second part, Mahaney defines greatness as Jesus did, showing that being great means being a servant to everyone. Just as Jesus came to serve, so must we serve with our lives. Christ lived as the perfect example of humble service. As in all his books, Mahaney leads the reader to the cross, stating that apart from Christ's sacrifice, there is no serving. We can only attain true greatness by emulating Christ's example - the example that led him to the cross where He made the greatest sacrifice.
In the third and final part of the book Mahaney builds on the foundation he has built through Scripture to provide advice on the practice of humility. This is far more than a bullet list of do's and don'ts. It is far more than a false, monastic humility that is really no humility at all. Instead, he examines several different areas of life and shows how humility can be applied to all of them. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep (and even while we are asleep) we can practice humility. Whether we experience joy or pain, whether we are correcting or being corrected, we all have opportunities to practice humility every day.
Humility: True Greatness is a truly great book. I do not know of a person who shows no pride in his life, and thus I do not know of a person who would not benefit from reading it. I highly and unreservedly recommend this book. I pray that it will be widely-read, that humility may be widely-practiced.
After having read this book, I really feel like I've had a window into this man's heart. If you've gotten caught up in this controversial discussion about C. J. Mahaney, I encourage you to read this book before being swept away by a torrent of media that might bias your views of this man. Before deciding what we think of Mahaney, we need to see the presupposition under which he operates his Christian life. It is clear that the virtue of humility is cherished by him as it ought to by us all. It is also clear that when this character attribute of his is challenged, he does not take the challenge lightly. I appreciate they lengths at which he took in order to be tested and restored rightly.
I actually read Humility in February just after my recent surgery. I was cooped up in bed for a couple of days, and it seemed like good timing to give this book a read. After having read the book, I heartily recommend this book to every Christian who desires to understand the attribute of humility and the role that it ought to play in each of our lives.
According to Mahaney, "Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God's holiness and our sinfulness." In contrast to humility, Mahaney explains, "Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him." Basically, Mahaney says that our pride is strong when we forget our place before God and try to usurp that place from Him. Mahaney continues, "That's the motive and ultimate purpose of pride - to rob God of legitimate glory and to pursue self-glorification, contending for supremacy with Him." Humility is when we see ourselves the way God sees us, warts and all.
The beauty of it all is that God loves through our sinfulness. We know this because God the Father sent God the Son, who willingly subjected Himself to death on the cross. Mahaney elaborates on the value of Christ's death in respect to the subject of humility,
"Here's an essential truth: To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus' personal example of humble service. What we need is His death..." Why was the death of Jesus necessary? Because all of humanity is corrupt and condemned, and we all have an acute tendency to deny the reality of our lost state before God.
Without first being confronted by Christ's death and encountering the wonder of salvation we cannot walk in humility. Humility requires us to emulate and sacrifice like Christ did when he died, according to Mahaney this is true greatness. What I've just shared covers the material from Parts One and Two of this book. Those two parts help the reader have context for understanding the links between pride, greatness, and humility. Part Three is where Mahaney provides encouragement and methods for practicing humility. This section includes principles to practice at the beginning of the day, the end of the day, and also some special principles.
As each day begins Mahaney challenges the reader to reflect on the wonder of the cross, to acknowledge our need for God, to give gratitude to God, and to practice spiritual disciplines. As an aside he recommends Don Whitney's book, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, a book I am reading at present. Mahaney encourages those who wish to practice humility to take advantage of their commute and make it purposeful time with God. He also challenges the reader to cast their cares upon God.
As the day ends Mahaney cautions the reader from committing cosmic plagiarism. This is when we take credit for what God does in our lives. He also encourages us to accept the gift of sleep, then close the day with expressing gratefulness for Christ's death and resurrection.
As a special focus Mahaney encourages the reader to study the attributes of God, study the doctrine of grace, nbsp;and study the doctrine of sin.
There are a bunch of nuggets to take away from this book. One of the most precious ones that I found was in Mahaney's chapter on encouraging others. This nugget has to do with correcting others. Mahaney says, "Never correct without reminding the individual, at some point, of the gospel. Any conversation including correction must also include the gospel, because biblical correction is incomplete apart from the gospel." This observation of his is absolutely the best snapshot of this book. Always at the center of humility is a message, action, or lifestyle centered on the gospel. This is how it should be. When we rise Christ's resurrection is on our hearts and in our morning prayers. When we walk we proclaim the fulfilled promise of our Savior. When we lay our head down, we rest peacefully in the hands that were pierced for our transgressions, remembering the cost he paid for so great a salvation.
Once again, I recommend reading this book. Then a couple of months after having read it, re-acquaint yourself with the book and review your notes. That is what I did this evening, and it refreshed my soul.
View more book reviews by Joey Cochran at jtcochran.com.
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He famously fled his church when HIS board of elders called him on the carpet for his flaming ego.Read more