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Book Review - Humility
December 10, 2005
As I read Humility by Wayne Mack I could not help but draw comparisons with C.J. Mahaney’s excellent book by the same title. I am glad to say that both books are deeply challenging and saturated in Scripture. Both men are skilled expositors of Scripture and both have a heart for the church. While I will go so far as to recommend both of these books I do not wish to make further comparison between them as each stands on its own merits.
“This book was written,” says Mack, “in an attempt to understand pride and humility from a biblical perspective and to help us diminsh the destructive pride factor and to increase the true humility factor in our lives.” To do this the author uses a “four-D” approach. He begins with biblical definitions of pride and humility and then discusses how pride and humility display themselves. Finally, he explains how true humility can be developed and destructive pride can be diminished in the life of the believer.
The importance of this topic can hardly be overstated. The Scriptures make it clear to us that humility is an exceedingly important aspect of the Christian’s character. The Bible continually exhorts God’s people to be humble and to rid ourselves of all pride. We are often told that God pours out his blessing on those who display a humble heart. Pride strikes right to the heart of God as it is a proclamation on the part of a person that he considers his concerns to be more important than submission to his Creator. “Pride consists in attributing to 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 stands exactly opposed to pride. “Humility 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 means having a servant’s mind-set and always putting self last.”
At the conclusion of each chapter is a set of questions of application and sometimes a self-evaluation. While I generally eschew this type of evaluation and have often found them to be somewhat less than useful, I found the questions in Humility to be challenging and relevant to the topic. They were a welcome addition and added significant value to the book.
While I enjoyed the book tremendously there were two areas that I considered negative. First, the author’s definition of pride did not seem to allow for any level of pride whatsoever. Is there anything inherently evil with feeling proud of, for example, one’s child? I would not think so, provided that one acknowledge his own and his child’s dependence on God. Yet I am not sure that this would fit within Mack’s definition of pride. He says also of humility that “As soon as we think we are humble, we’re not; as soon as we think we have it, we’ve lost it.” I am not entirely sure that this is the case. If a man may acknowledge other gifts given to him by God, could he not also acknowledge his own humility? Secondly, while I appreciate the usefulness and even necessity of reading the contributions of great Christians of days past, I felt that Mack may have relied a little too much on their writing. For example, the book concludes with fully five pages of an excerpt of one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons.
These are but small complaints. I enjoyed Humility and, far more importantly, was continually challenged and edified in reading it. Just days after reading the book I can already attest to some changes I have made and will continue to make in my life because of what I learned through its pages. Because of the importance of the topic this is a book that will benefit all who read its pages. I recommend that you do so!