Berean Studies / Ber02 - Humility And Meekness
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What importance does God attach to these graces of Christian character?
2. Although the Scriptures use the words interchangeably, yet strictly speaking, what is the distinction between humility...
3. What is the relation between humility and knowledge?
Ps 25:9; F97 ¶2; R1920; R2250 col. 2 ¶2; R2860 col. 2 ¶1; R3511 col. 1 ¶6
(Psa 25:9) The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
F97: In order to have a hearing ear for the wisdom that cometh from above, an earnest condition of heart is necessary. We must possess a measure of humility, else we will think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and will fail to discern our own weaknesses, blemishes, unworthiness, from the divine standpoint. We need also to have a certain amount of honesty or candor--to be willing to admit, to acknowledge, the defects seen by the humble mind. Looking from this standpoint, those who long for righteousness and harmony with God are pointed by the Lord's providences to Jesus as the Savior. However imperfectly at first any may understand the philosophy of the atonement accomplished for us, they must at least grasp the fact that they "were by nature children of wrath even as others"--sinners; that Christ's sacrifice was a righteous one and that God provided and accepted it on our behalf; that through his stripes we may be healed, through his obedience we may be accepted of the Father, our sins being reckoned as laid upon him and borne by him, and his righteousness and merit reckoned as applicable to us for a robe of righteousness. We must see this--Christ must thus be made unto us wisdom--before we can act upon the knowledge, and by hearty acceptance of his merit be justified before the Father and accepted and sanctified, and, by and by, delivered and glorified. But Christ does not cease to be our wisdom when the next step is taken, and he becomes our justification. No: we still need him, as our Wisdom, our wise Counselor. Under his guidance we need to see the wisdom of making a full consecration and the wisdom of following up that consecration in a life of sanctification, to the doing of the Father's will. In every step that we take wisdom is the principal thing; and all through the life of consecration, or sanctification, at every step of the journey to the Heavenly City, we need the wisdom which cometh from above, which the Apostle describes--"first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." (Jas. 3:17) Earthly wisdom operates along the lines of selfishness, self-will, self-esteem, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency; and, as the Apostle points out, these things lead to bitter envying and strife, because this wisdom, instead of being from above, is "earthly, sensual, devilish." The heavenly wisdom, on the contrary, is in harmony with the divine character of love, which "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, behaveth not itself unseemly, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth."
R1920: But if, in the use of these privileges, we open our hearts to receive all that divine grace has in store for us, then, indeed, we may glory in the Lord. Let such a one "glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." To thus know the Lord is not merely to know of him, to know something of his works and ways, but it is to know him by that intimate fellowship and communion which, by a living faith, seals the testimonies of his Word upon our hearts and makes us to realize that they are ours personally, that the Lord himself is our personal friend and helper and counselor and guide. We thus become acquainted with his spirit, his principles and methods of action,--we understand him,--we know how to interpret his providences, to mark his leadings, to observe his attitude toward us and thus daily to walk with him. Thus also we are led to a fuller appreciation of the Lord's righteousness and of his loving kindness, which will in due time establish justice in all the earth. Well, indeed, may we glory in the Lord and in the fact of his great condescension to us personally, when thus we come to understand and know him.
In this blessed sense of the divine love and care, we may say in the words of the Psalmist, "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the Lord, ye his saints; for there is no want to them that fear him."--`Psa. 34:1-9`.
How precious is this experience of the child of God! but it can never be the experience of a proud heart; "for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace [his favor] to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (`1 Pet. 5:5,6`.) It is hard for those who are rich in the wisdom or power or wealth of this world to do this. (`Matt. 19:24-26`.) It was hard for the scribes and Pharisees who were rich in titles and honors and praise of men; it was hard for the whole Jewish nation who were proud of being the seed of Abraham to whom pertained the promises of God; it was hard for the Greeks who were proud of their worldly wisdom and intellectual attainments; it was hard for the Romans who were proud of their power and prestige among the nations. And it is hard to-day for all those who have pride in any thing. It is hard for all religionists whose pride in the sectarian religious systems of Christendom blinds their eyes to the truth now due; it is hard also for those who boast in human philosophies and science, falsely so called; who are proud of being inventors of something new and strange, and who desire to be thought great and to lead men after them; it is hard for all those who reverence the opinions of men more than the words of the Lord. All those who either are rich or desire to be rich in the things of this present life, and specially those who are "rich" in a good opinion of themselves, or in self will, find it hard to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. Indeed, the Apostle intimates that the greatest battle of each one coming to a knowledge of the truth is along this line; for it is after pointing to the severe humiliation of our Lord Jesus that he says, "Wherefore, my beloved, work out your own salvation [in like manner] with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you [by this severe discipline, this humbling process] both to will and to do of his good pleasure."--`Phil. 2:12,13`.
Those who have endeavored in all sincerity to do so have always found the grace of God sufficient for them; but very few are ever disposed to make the attempt. To all the worldly-wise the preaching of the cross is foolishness, and they have no disposition to take up their cross daily and follow Christ.
It is for this reason that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" to share with the Lord in the glory of his Kingdom. They are generally so engrossed with the things of the present life --its pursuits, its cares, its pleasures, etc.--that they have no ear for the Lord's call. They are not humble enough even to hear the call; much less are they humble enough to obey it and to walk the narrow way of self-sacrifice in which the Lord leads.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world [those who are not noted for worldly wisdom or influence or wealth] to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world [the humble poor], and things which are despised, hath God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." (`1 Cor. 1:26-29`.) How truly the wise are being confounded to-day by the power of the truth in the hands of the humblest of God's consecrated children! Systems of error which are the growth of centuries are put to confusion and are tottering before it, and the sages of all the sects are troubled by it; for it is becoming more and more apparent to all men that "the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."--`Isa. 29:14`.
Why has God chosen these weak, inferior instruments for his great work? why does he not employ the eloquent tongues, the pens of ready writers, and the prestige of great names? Paul tells us why. It is in order "that no flesh should glory in his presence." The great work of vanquishing sin and establishing righteousness in the earth is the Lord's work: no human power is adequate to the emergencies of the case. Yet God is pleased to allow his power to operate through any human instrument that is meet for his use; i.e., that can be used without injury to itself. If God were to work his wonders through those whose hearts are inclined to pride, that pride would grow, and would arrogate to self the glory that belongs to God, instead of appreciating the honor of being a servant of God, an instrument in his mighty hand--"for the Master's use made meet."
The Lord's use of even the weakest instruments, of those having even a very small measure of talent for his service, sometimes proves an exaltation too great, and that which was a blessing becomes a curse through pride and vain-glory. Such is the perversity of human nature, and such the subtlety of the Adversary in gaining the advantage, that the very texts above cited sometimes become a stumbling-block to many who are not only poor financially, but who are deficient in intellect and education, and who even lack instruction in the divine Word. They forget that the Lord said, "Blessed are ye poor i.e., those who were poor (or became so) as his disciples]" (`Luke 6:20`); or, as `Matthew (5:3`) records it, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And they forget that the ignorant as well as the learned, the poor as well as the rich, can become "puffed up in their fleshly mind." It is sad to see "a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing" (`Gal. 6:3`), thus deceiving himself,--but specially so, when even the rudiments of education and Christlikeness are lacking. We believe that modesty and simplicity are traits to be cultivated by rich and poor alike, who are blessed with a knowledge of the truth, and that any "confounding of the mighty" should be done kindly and in meekness (`Eph. 4:2`; `2 Tim. 2:25`), and not in a combative spirit or with a show of gratification over their defeat.
Above almost every thing else, therefore, beloved, let us guard well our humility. It is only when we are little in our own eyes that God can use us with safety to ourselves. And yet he does not shield us from every test of fidelity. If therefore the Lord gives you a little exaltation to-day, a little encouragement of success in his service, receive it humbly, meekly remembering your own unworthiness and insufficiency except as God is pleased to work through you; and be just as ready to receive the humiliations of tomorrow as necessary for your discipline and the proper balancing of your character. If the success of yesterday makes you fret under the humiliation of to-day, then beware: you are not as roundly developed spiritually as you should be. Whatever may be the triumphs of the truth through us, let us always remember that we are among "the things that are not." Let us endeavor therefore to make the Apostle Paul's experience our own, who said,-- "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, and to abound and to suffer need. I can do all [these] things through Christ which strengtheneth me."--`Phil. 4:11-13`.
In God's dealings with his people at all times we can see his care in guarding them against pride and self-sufficiency. If he would choose Israel to be his peculiar people, he permits them first to be enslaved for four hundred years,and then with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm he gathers them to the promised land. Moses, too, the chosen deliverer, was of humble birth. He was slow of speech, and needed Aaron to supplement this weakness. And Paul had his "thorn in the flesh," from which the Lord was not pleased to deliver him, though thrice he besought the Lord to remove it; and the Lord said unto him, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness [i.e., my strength, operating through this imperfect earthen vessel, will be more manifest to men than if the vessel were a perfect and polished one. In that case men might ascribe the greatness of the work to the talent of R1921 Paul, and by and by conclude that since Paul is only a man it is only presumption for him to assume to teach other men, etc. But if the power is seen to be of God, and merely working through Paul as a ready instrument--meek, willing and energetic--then the testimony of the grace of God will be weighty with them: and so it was]."
To this explanation and assurance from the Lord Paul meekly replied, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."--`2 Cor. 12:8,9`.
The Lord with unerring wisdom has always chosen the meek for every great work. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth. (`Num. 12:3`.) Meekness was a marked characteristic of all the prophets and ancient worthies. The Lord Jesus was meek and lowly of heart (`Matt. 11:29`), who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. He was of humble birth, born in a manger and reared in the despised town of Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene. The twelve apostles were all plain men, mostly fishermen; and so also the whole Gospel Church--not the church nominal, but the true ones written in heaven--have generally been the poor of this world, who were willing to be humbled yet more and more, that the power of Christ might be manifested through them.
Let every one therefore humble himself under the mighty hand of God. This is not the time for exaltation, but for humiliation and trial. The exaltation will come in due time to the faithful. Let our present glory be in that we understand and know the Lord, and in that he condescends to make use of these poor earthen vessels in his service, that it may be manifest to all men that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of men.--`2 Cor. 4:7`.
R2250c2p2 (4) "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." To whom is this blessed promise applicable? Surely to none other than "the elect," the Church, referred to preceding as "the poor in spirit," "the meek." These, and these alone at the present time, are hungering and thirsting for truth and righteousness, in respect to the divine revelation on every subject and affair of life. Others may have a little hunger for truth, but they are soon satisfied;--especially when they find the truth unpopular and that, however sweet to the taste, it afterward brings bitter gripings of persecution and ostracism under present unfavorable world-conditions. To a considerable number honesty and righteousness are the best policy, to a limited degree,--so far as public opinion sustains them; but a righteousness and honesty and love of the truth at the cost of persecution, at the cost of having men "separate you from their company," is only hungered and thirsted after by the "little flock" --the overcomers. "They shall be filled." They will be filled to the full by and by, very shortly, in the "change" of the "first resurrection," when this mortal condition shall be exchanged for immortality; when this animal body shall give place to a perfect spirit-body. Then partial knowledge and partial attainment of righteousness shall be superseded by a full, complete knowledge, then "we shall know, even as we are known." But even now this class enjoys much larger measures of knowledge of the truth and experiences in the blessings of righteousness than are possible to any other class.
R2860c2p1: A lesson in connection with this subject which is applicable to all of the Lord's consecrated people, is the lesson of humility. Only as we are in a humble attitude of mind can we get a view of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine plan. Otherwise we would continually find our view of God and of his Word and plan obscured by self. Thus the Lord declares that he resists the proud and showeth his favor unto the humble. Let us, therefore, dear brethren, instead of thinking of ourselves as great ones, on the contrary remember that we are dust, and that as the poet has expressed it,--
"My highest place is lying low
At my Redeemer's feet;
No real joy in life I know
But in his service sweet."
"He that exalteth himself shall be abased; he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (`Luke 14:11`; `1 Pet. 5:6`.) Let us seek to be servants of the Lord and of the flock--faithful servants, ready and willing to lay down our lives for the Lord, for the truth, for the brethren.
R3511 c1 p6: PRIDE AN OPPONENT TO THE TRUTH.
Touch a man's pride and you arouse his whole being. Blessed, therefore, and favorably conditioned are the humble, the meek and the lowly of heart. They are not only better prepared to receive the good tidings respecting the Kingdom, but will be better prepared to follow the footsteps of the Master in the attainment of the Kingdom. Pride is generally in error and hence frequently comes into contact with the Truth, as in this case. There was nothing really or properly offensive in our Lord's words, "The Truth shall make you free:" it was the power of the Truth in the words and not any rudeness or unkindness of the sentiment that aroused the wrath of the hearers--the expression wounded their pride.
This pride seems to be a part of the difficulty of the Jew from that day to this. The Apostle intimates this in his quotation from the Prophet respecting their fall, "Let their table become a snare, a recompense unto them." The peculiar blessings of God upon that people ensnared them, for instead of appreciating the fact that they were not more worthy than others, they trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others--they thought of themselves as being more worthy than others of divine favors, revelations, etc. So in this case our Lord's hearers resented the thought that the Truth could make them free. If our Lord had said, You who are free, being my disciples, shall bless the heathen and deliver them from the yoke of bondage, the sentiment would have called forth approval and he would have been well thought of.
And this, indeed, would be the strict truth--the Lord's faithful disciples, the Israelites indeed, are the channels through whom the Lord will ultimately break the shackles of sin and death from off the Gentiles, the world and also from Israel. But in order for anyone to be the Lord's disciple, he himself must be made free, and it was to this the Lord referred, and it was this thought that angered those who had a few moments before believed on him. How could they regard him as the Messiah when he spoke thus slightingly of the Jewish nation and implied that in some sense of the word they were bondsmen? No; they had been bondsmen for awhile in Egypt but they now were free, was their argument.
4. How do we know that humility is the underlying principle of the divine government?
5. What does it mean to be ‘clothed with humility’?
6. Is it possible to have too great humility?
7. What elements of character are in direct opposition to humility?
8. What lessons may we learn from Jesus’ example of humility?
9. Was humility characteristic of the apostles?
10. Why is humility a chief essential in an Elder?
11. Why should husbands cultivate and exercise humility?
12. How can wives exercise humility?
13. Why is it important that we teach our children meekness and humility?
14. What Scriptural promises are given to the meek and humble?
15. What notable illustrations and examples of meekness and humility do we find in the Bible?
16. Give suggestions as to the best methods for acquiring and cultivating these important graces.
17. What additional thoughts can be found by consulting the Topical Indexes of the ‘ New Bible ‘ and ‘ Heavenly Manna ‘?