At Living Hope Church and within Sovereign Grace Churches, we love biblical, gospel-centered theology and doctrine. The songs we sing are theologically informed, our preaching is primarily the exposition of the Bible, and in our fellowship, we aim to understand and apply the Scriptures. But friends, simply possessing accurate doctrine is insufficient to be the kind of church that Jesus calls us to be.
In his fine book The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ, Pastor Ray Ortlund wisely informs us that:
Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace. When the doctrine is clear and the culture is beautiful, that church will be powerful.
We must hold fast to Gospel doctrine, yes, but in such a way that the doctrine produces the fruit of Gospel Culture. Only then will we represent Jesus with integrity and be a church that has the power to fulfill the mission of Jesus by making and maturing disciples.
Over the next several blog posts I will be taking a look at the values of the Gospel Culture we pursue together at Living Hope. The 7 values of our Gospel Culture are Humility, Godliness, Serving, Fellowship, Generosity, Gratefulness, and Joy. In this post, we will briefly explore the value of Humility.
A Helpful Definition
In his book Humility: True Greatness, author and pastor C.J. Mahaney provides a helpful definition of biblical humility: “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” A healthy Gospel Culture is marked by this kind of honest assessment for it is only in a place of humility before God that we are positioned to receive and be amazed by the grace of God given to us in Christ. This humility before God should also work itself out in humility towards those around us, as 1 Peter 5:5 says “…clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The Model of Humility
Philippians 2.1-11 provides us with the most compelling model of humility ever known. In these divinely inspired verses, we find that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, humbled himself by coming to earth as one of us – the Creator assumed the flesh of his creation. Furthermore, he humbled himself all the way to death on a cross in order to die as our substitute, bearing our sin and the wrath of God we earned for our sins. He counted us as more important than his own life. Now that’s humility! In the cross of Jesus Christ, we find grace that humbles us before God, grace that forgives us for our sinful pride, and grace to imitate Him in the pursuit of humility. How can anyone be prideful before the cross?
The Pursuit and Practice of Humility
Let’s pull the threads together. When we honestly assess ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness and humble ourselves in dependent faith in Jesus Christ, our lives will be marked by an imperfect but genuine humility that expresses itself in counting others as more important than ourselves. Pursuing humility doesn’t look like self-pity, self-condemnation, and self-loathing. Instead, the pursuit and practice of humility looks like a robust, beautiful culture of self-forgetfulness, care, sacrifice, and serving – a Gospel Culture.
Rejoice When You See It!
When we see others pursuing and practicing biblical humility we have reason to rejoice because we have the privilege of observing the Holy Spirit producing the fruit of the Gospel. An ideal response when we encounter humility in others is to thank God for his grace and encourage them by commending God’s grace at work in them. So friends, let’s commit ourselves afresh to the pursuit and practice of humility, let’s encourage one another to do the same, and let’s praise God as he blesses our church with imperfect but genuine humility — a Gospel Culture that brings glory to Jesus Christ.