Thursday, December 13, 2007

Humility

Jani and I have been reading aloud C. J. Mahaney's superb book on humility. He put me onto Charles Bridges' classic on the Christian ministry, first published back in 1830. Bridges wisely writes,

"It is of little comparative moment that our ministry should bear the stamp of talent, erudition or pathos. But if it should be characterized by the savor of humility and love, it would be best adapted to display the glories of Immanuel, and most honored with the manifestations of his Spirit."

A temptation I face in preaching -- every preacher faces it -- is to show off. There is a tug in our hearts to show off learning, eloquence, cool, whatever. But that would prostitute the ministry of the gospel. True preaching, as everyone knows, is for the display of the glories of Christ, for the good of everyone listening, not for the display of the preacher and for his own advantage.

Preaching filled with a sense of wonder at Christ might in fact turn out to be learned and eloquent and all that, but not consciously, not deliberately, just accidentally. And what explains the impact of true preaching is not its unintended learning and eloquence but "the manifestations of his Spirit."

Two desires move my heart. One is the display of myself. The other is the display of Christ, blessed with the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. It's a choice, moment by moment.

I choose Christ. And that means I renounce my pride. Happy choice.