When I was very young, there was a house fire on our street. It happened in the night, and the next day we walked down to look at the damage. I was just learning to read, and I remember noticing that the words on the front of one emergency vehicle looked wrong. My dad explained that the word was “Ambulance” and it was backward so you could read it in your rear view mirror.
Sometimes understanding scripture is like trying to read backwards writing without a mirror. You need something to help you flip the image so you can comprehend the words. The topic of biblical humility is something that is often backward writing to our pride infused natural self.
In the Blessings of Humility, the late Jerry Bridges focuses on the topic of humility through the lens of the Beatitudes. What is biblical humility? A study of the scriptures led Bridges to this definition- “These expressions of Christian Character (in the Beatitudes) are a description of humility in action…that’s what humility looks like. That is humility in action in everyday life.”
An everyday life application of the scriptures was a goal in Jerry Bridges life. In this book, he surely achieves that goal. In the opening chapter titled Precepts and Promises, he lays a foundation for the precept (command) of God for His people to manifest humility, and the promises for those that do. Every thing in the Beatitudes is backwards to the traits the world seeks to cultivate in order to obtain what we believe to be blessings. The counter-cultural blessings in the Beatitudes offer “a portrait of humility in action, something which God commands, and which God promises to bless." This book is the mirror to turn our view to one that can clearly understand what Jesus was teaching, why He was teaching it, and how we can respond so our character can be transformed.
This is a small book, yet each short chapter is every essential thing you need to have an understanding and application of the character traits. Using scripture to define and illustrate each trait concisely and clearly, Bridges then gently reveals how we, lacking humility, fall short of its perfect expression. Immediately he applies the balm of grace, and with firm exhortation and hopeful encouragement points us to the path of progress.
Jerry Bridges was a master at teaching hard truths without being hard on the saints. Never compromising on the goal of Christ-likeness, he points us there from a place of, well, humility, knowing himself to be one who needed God’s grace as much as those he sought to minister to. He went home to be with the Lord earlier this year and there aren't many living authors who can write with the combination of scholarly knowledge and heart of a disciple-maker that he possessed.
This book is one for the must-read list. The newer Christ follower would be wise to read it early in the beginning stages of their walk, it would be a great discipleship book. The more seasoned follower would benefit from the exhortation to continue to grow in these character traits, and to have humility in action more evident in their life. There is a short discussion guide for each chapter, it is totally worth spending some time working through.
I’ll be reading this again, slowly and well to lay hold of its wise and helpful teaching. This is a book I would highly recommend, so that you too would know The Blessings of Humility.
Read well, friends.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of review.