Mahaney’s book: A tool for overcoming pride
June 6, 2006
Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. Multnomah Publishers, 2005. 174 pages. $12.99.
Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector shows the heart attitude of each man in prayer. The Pharisee stood vainly in the center of the temple, praying loudly for all to hear. He spoke of his good deeds, and that he was not to be compared to sinners. In sharp contrast, the tax collector stood off by himself, hung his head low, and pleaded with God for mercy to cover his sins. The audience for this parable is explicitly stated as “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Just in case the listeners missed the image of the story, Jesus closes the parable with these strong words: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
God teaches in the Bible that He is drawn to the humble, but is opposed to the proud. Humility and pride are opposing forces in a battle for the health of your soul. Mahaney says, “Humility draws the gaze of our Sovereign God.” What path will you follow? Will you walk the path of life-giving humility or soul-destroying pride?
Mahaney served as a pastor for twenty-seven years, and now serves as the head of a church-planting ministry based in Maryland. He embodies the message of this book, although he would be the first to admit that he is not a humble man. The book itself is not difficult to understand. It uses humorous anecdotes that keep the pages turning. But in the midst of the enjoyment of reading, a powerful biblical message is woven into our hearts and minds. A Christian reading this book will want to do all they can to cultivate humility and weed out pride in their soul.
But what is humility? Mahaney defines humility as, “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” Humility begins with a biblical understanding of the holiness of God. In light of His holiness, we are better able to see just how far we have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. Furthermore, we will understand that because we are so fundamentally flawed, we are not going to become humble through an exertion of our will. Our humility must stand in the shadow of the cross or it will not stand up under God’s scrutiny.
Mahaney is at his best when giving us suggestions for “How to Weaken Pride and Cultivate Humility”. Throughout several chapters he explains seventeen actions we can take to lessen pride in our own lives. I don’t want to steal the thunder from the book by listing them here. I will say that the book as a whole, and working through this list in particular, has had the effect of spiritual revival in my own heart over the last month.
Believe the promise of God that He exalts the humble and humbles the exalted. Seek to live out the attitude of the tax collector. Pick up a copy of Mahaney’s book on humility and you will gain a tool for overcoming pride and living a Christ-centered life of humility.(Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.wisdomofthepages.com)