Scripture says God will not turn away the broken and contrite, but when we look at our own hearts, we often see so much pride we are rarely comforted by that truth. However, we must never forget that true humility would never see itself as humble. Arthur Pink once addressed our tendency to improperly assess humility, and he did it in a way that leaves us no room to boast. Below, I provide you, with minor edits for today’s reader, his three reasons you might be more humble than you realize.
“A humble spirit or heart is an infallible sign of new birth in Christ. Yet the very mention of the word “humility” seems to cut off many Christians. As they examine themselves, they discover so much pride at work within, that they are quite unable to persuade themselves that they have a humble heart. It seems to them, that humility is one thing they most evidently lack. Now it will no doubt be a startling statement, but we unhesitatingly affirm that the great majority of God’s people are far more humble than they suppose!
1. You See Yourself as Deserving Hell
That the Christian possesses a humble heart, is plain from the fact that he confesses himself to be a Hell-deserving sinner. We do not have in mind what you say of yourself when in the company of your fellows, but rather what you feel and say of yourself when alone with God. Whatever pretenses you are guilty of before men, when in the presence of the Omniscient One, you are real, sincere, and genuine.
Now, dear reader, be honest with yourself: When on your knees before the Throne of Grace, do you freely and frankly acknowledge that if you received your lawful due, you would, even now be suffering the dreadful fires of Hell? If so, a miracle of grace must have been wrought within you. No unregenerate person will, or can honestly make, such a confession to God, for he does not feel he has done anything deserving of eternal punishment.
2. You See Even Your Good Works as Defiled by Sin
If you own that “all your righteous acts are like filthy rags,” that is proof you possess a humble heart. Of course, we mean much more than your merely uttering those words as a parrot might, or even singing them during a worship service. We mean that when you are in the presence of the Lord, which is always the surest test, you personally realize that you do not have a single merit of your own to commend you to His favor.
We mean that, when bowed in His presence, in the calmness and quietness of your prayer-closet, you own without any qualification, that your best performances are defiled by sin, and that in yourself, you are a helpless beggar! If that is indeed your language before God, it most certainly issues from a humble heart. The heart of the natural man thinks and feels the very opposite, and can no more repudiate himself than transform himself into a holy angel.
3. You Recieve the Word of God as a Little Child
If you receive everything in the Scriptures as a little child, that is another proof that a miracle of grace has been wrought within you and that you now possess a humble heart. By nature, all are “wise and prudent” in their own esteem.
The hostility of the proud sinful mind rises up against the sovereignty of God; against the spirituality and strictness of the Divine Law which curses all who deviate the slightest from its holy demands; and against the endless punishment of all dying without Christ. But the born again, though there is much they do not understand, accept without complaint or question all that is revealed in the Word. If you do, that is proof that your pride has been abased before God.
How thankful we should be that Scripture does not say that God dwells only in those who have complete victory over sin, or those who enjoy unbroken and unclouded communion with Him. Had those been the distinguishing features named, then every one of us might well despair!
But every person with new life in Jesus has a humble heart. And if you, my reader, measuring yourself by what has been pointed out above, can discern such fruits and evidence of humility, then it is not presumptuous for you to look upon yourself as saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it would be most wicked conceit for you to do otherwise.”
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
– Matthew 5:3
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.