The Blessing of Humility
Author: Jerry Bridges
Published: Tyndale House | May 2016
Length: 95 pages + Discussion Guide
Reading the Beatitudes just a few days before this book came to my attention, I was struck with the thought, “This is what humility looks like. This is who God wants me to be.” Not a revolutionary thought, certainly, but a simple summation pitted against all the other voices proclaiming what a good life looks like. Does Christ ask me to make something of myself? To make sure my bosses know what a good worker I am? To make enough money to cushion against all the various things that can go wrong? Others may say so, but not Christ. According to the Beatitudes He wants something that looks quite a bit different than that alluring word “success”. He wants my poverty, my mourning, my meekness, my hunger for righteousness, my purity of heart. He wants me to be merciful and a peacemaker. As Bridges shows, in all of this He wants my humility. The Blessing of Humility ponders the way these characteristics are linked together in forming Christian character.
Each chapter deals with a different sentence of the Beatitudes, looking at them through the lens of our relationship to God. We experience poverty of spirit when we recognize we have nothing but sin to offer God, and we mourn in sorrow when we see how this sin despises the One who offers Himself in love for us. This godly sorrow leads us to hunger and thirst for righteousness—both the rightness with God that comes only through Christ, and the practical manifestation of this rightness in our choices. You might say that in all of this we are being broken, humbled in a way which changes our attitudes. We begin to show meekness: a responsiveness to the instruction of God, and submission to both the good and ill he ushers into our lives. Guided by mercy we show compassion to those in need, and forgiveness to those who wrong us. As peacemakers, we love enough to pursue the mending of relationships that have been broken. Subtly, we are growing in purity of heart, desiring God and His ways without competition. This transforms the way we respond to persecution, enabling us to seek the welfare of those, even, who despise us. The first half of the Beatitudes lead us in a path of humility towards God, the second apply this in humility towards others.
This sermon-style exposition did not strike me as Tozer-esque as I was hoping, but its vision of a life submitted to our heavenly Father packs enough meat for a lifetime of working out our faith. The Blessing of Humility was my introduction to Jerry Bridges’ writings, which apparently came rather late as he just passed away this March. I felt like I was sitting under the tutelage of a man of faith who had walked the path with Christ with the steadfastness built up through many years of seeking. A man past the angst of younger spiritual days, now seeking Christ’s fellowship as a stream–something dependable and steady, built of trust. Footsteps I want to follow. This is the kind of solid relationship with Christ the Beatitudes express, the outworking of a faith built of humility, demonstrated in the substance of transformation. I, for one, need that fresh sense of purpose, knowing that humility of heart (and all its implications) is something I can build my life around. Everything else can fall away.
Review Copy courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers