The Blessing of Humility – Book Review
Humility. We know we need it. Lots of it.
But we don’t often know how to get it.
With the words of the late Jerry Bridges, The Blessing of Humility has been published to help answer the how of humility.
According to Bridges, humility ranks second only to love as the most frequently taught trait in the New Testament.
“I regard these two traits as the foundational stones of Christian character. All other character traits, in one way or another, are built upon love and humility.”
The Blessing of Humility works through the eight Beatitudes from Jesus as the foundation for each chapter on humility.
For example, in the Poor in Spirit chapter (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3), Bridges makes the connection between poverty of spirit and humility in this way:
“Believers who are growing continue to see more sin in their lives. It is not that they are sinning more; rather they are becoming more aware of and more sensitive to the sin that has been there all along.”
In Chapter 4, “Meek” (“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5), Bridges says,
“As I reflect on our evangelical community to the extent I am aware of it, it seems we are more knowers of the Word than doers of the Word. . . .
We do not receive with meekness the implanted Word of God (James 1:21). Instead we too often use the Scriptures not as a means of judging ourselves, but as a means of judging others, especially those whose sins are more flagrant than ours.”
And Bridges continues with:
“It takes humility to not murmur or complain about the difficult and painful events in life, but instead to see them as God’s work of growing us more and more into the likeness of Christ. It takes humility to bear with and forgive those who hurt us in some way. And it certainly takes humility to repay evil with good.”
Bridges closes the book in Chapter 10, “Humility and the Gospel,” with this challenge:
“As we have gone through the Beatitudes, we have found that the truly humble person is poor in spirit, mourns over their sin, is meek toward God and other people, hungers and thirsts for righteousness, is merciful toward other people, is pure in heart, is a peacemaker, and considers themselves blessed when persecuted or reviled for righteousness’ sake. This is a formidable list, one that none of us will ever perfectly attain to.
That is why we need the gospel every day. It is the gospel that will keep us from becoming discouraged and will instead motivate us to keep pursuing humility, even when we fail so often.
We also need to daily realize our dependence on the work and power of the Holy Spirit to pursue the various expressions of humility.”
This isn’t my favorite Jerry Bridges’ book (I rank The Discipline of Grace, Trusting God and True Community higher), partly because of my aversion to Bridges’ elevation of the Bible itself as an item almost to be worshiped. However, with disclaimer noted, this book is still worthy of your reading time.
I appreciate Bridges’ spiritual growth philosophy that echoes throughout his books, including this one, “the principle of dependent responsibility.” Paraphrasing Bridges, I sum it up like this:
Want more humility?
Become more aware of your dependence on the Holy Spirit to get it.
* * *
Who can claim they have enough humility? None of us. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
My thanks to Tyndale
for the review copy of this book
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I might have to get this one, Lisa. As you know I’ve had a similar calling of the Spirit in this regard. Funny, just today, over lunch with one of my friends, I spoke about the fact that humility is close to the top of the most beautiful things we can find in this life.
Every time I read things on humility, I think of you now, Floyd. I know it’s been close to your heart this year, but I’ve seen it in your words every since I’ve been reading your writings. Thanks for your example!
This book, and his others you’ve mentioned, certainly appear worthy of some time to read. Thanks for the review!
It’s hard to go wrong with a Jerry Bridges’ book. I have benefited from each of his books that I have read; I’m thankful there are still several yet I can read. But I’m sorry for us that he has now passed on.
Thanks for this review! I have read a number of books on humility and the quotes you shared here tempt me to read this one as well. Discipline of Grace by Bridges’ is one of my favorite books. I appreciate your disclaimer as well as I have sometimes had similar feelings. Have a blessed weekend, my friend!
I wish there were even more books out there on humility. It seems to be an under-served market because we all need humility. I’m glad you share my love of Discipline of Grace! Such good writings we got from Jerry Bridges.
It’s the one trait our Lord exercised the most, came as a helpless baby, told on the role of a frail body that required some care, perfect love loving on the unlovely, humility to the mach and then more. Oh, how I desire this trait yet I know it only comes through tough times. I will have to add this one to my list of to get books, thanks Lisa.
Beautiful examples of our Lord’s humility! Thanks for sharing these, Betty. May we always remember how humble Jesus was, even as the very Son of God. If he could be humble, how much more we should try to be!