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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wearing the garment of humility in public (1 Peter 5:5-6)

What are the benefits of wearing the garment of humility? We wear spiritual clothes in two different places: in private and in public. Peter is more concerned with the public space here because he urges his readers to wear humility whenever they meet one another. Yet I am sure that Peter would say that we cannot put it on in public unless we have it on in private. So the first benefit that the garment of humility brings is that it delivers us from hypocrisy, from contradiction, from trying to be in public what we are not in private.  

Humility also delivers us from the obvious danger of pretending. One of the things that we learn in life is that there is always someone better than us in everything. There is always someone who knows more than we do, who paints better than we do, who drives better than we do, who is more cultured than we are. Often, when we meet such people, we are tempted to give the impression that we are more accomplished than we are. Humility delivers us from such shallowness and liberates us from the chains of pointless competitiveness.  

Humility also rescues us from the pitfalls of pride, of which there are many. Pride always comes before a fall. We may want to blame the devil and his temptations for our falling, but while they may have contributed, they are not the reason for the fall. Often, we fall because of a lack of humility. 

Humility is a means of obtaining more grace. Peter stresses this when he says that ‘God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble’. We often find ourselves facing a situation when we have to choose between two correct options and find we cannot tell which one is better, even after making careful investigations about them. If we are humble in that situation and confess our ignorance to God, we can expect him to give grace about it and lead us in the best option for us. Surely the fact that God gives grace to the humble should lead us to trust in him increasingly in all situations. 

Humility will lead us to respond to the Bible correctly. An example of this is stated in Isaiah 66:1-2: ‘Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”’  Spurgeon, in a sermon on verse 2, mentions several reasons why the humble tremble at God’s Word: (a) they tremble at its majesty; (b) they tremble at its searching power; (c) they tremble at its threatening power; (d) they trembles at the thought of offending the Most High; (e) they tremble at the prospect of missing out on its promises. 

Humility will make us teachable by one another. Apollos was a teachable individual who did not resist or resent the fact that Priscilla and Aquila wanted to help him understand more accurately the meaning of certain Bible doctrines (Acts 18:24-26). His humility led him to become even more useful in the church. 

Humility will cause us to honour one another. One of the sad aspects of contemporary life is the way character assassination can take place. Usually it involves admittance of a person’s good deeds, but then a statement is added that is designed to lower his or her reputation in the esteem of others. Such should never be part of Christian speech and it will not be part of the speech of a humble Christian who honours other believers. Thomas Watson comments that a ‘humble Christian studies his own infirmities and another’s excellences and that makes him put a higher value upon others than himself.’ 

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