A Deep Dive Into Humility, Part 9: A Puritan How-To
June 23, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
As one of the great Puritan writers, Thomas Brooks wrote The Unsearchable Riches of Christ in 1655. As the title implies, in this treatise, Brooks digs into the goodness and richness of Christ. Interestingly, however, his first section focuses on humility. He builds the case for a theological how-to for becoming humble by cataloguing the many benefits of being humble. We will come back to that list of eighteen characteristics of a humble soul in a later Touchpoint. Today I want to share Brooks’ nine “how-tos” for becoming humble. You’ll see some overlap with my relational how-to and theological how-to from the past two weeks, but like a good Puritan, Brooks leaves no stone uncovered. I will briefly comment on each.
- Dwell much upon the greatness of God's mercy and goodness to you. This is the theological how-to succinctly summarized. The more you study God and his ways (i.e. mercy), the more you will be humble. Reading God-glorifying theological works is an excellent way to dwell on God’s greatness.
- Keep faith in continual exercise, upon Christ as crucified, and upon Christ as glorified. Reflecting on Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:20, “the life I now live I live by faith,” Brooks commends a moment by moment resting in Christ alone for salvation.
- Study your own natures more, and whatever evil you behold in other men's practices, labor to see the same in your own nature. This practice will kill any temptation to compare ourselves with others and think ourselves better. We must know our sinful tendencies and understand that we are no better than anyone else.
- Dwell much upon the imperfection which follows and cleaves to your best actions. Achievements and successes can easily puff us up in our minds. Dwelling on our imperfections reminds us that even in our successes, we still fall short of God’s glory.
- In the day of your prosperity, forget not your former poverty. Similar to the previous two practices, this one seeks to undermine any sort of self-reliance.
- Look upon all that you have received, and all that you shall hereafter receive—as the fruit of free grace. This practice is the counterpart to number 5. We come from poverty. Every blessing we enjoy is a gift of God’s grace (cf. Eph. 1:3; James 1:17).
- Meditate much upon these two things: First, the great mischief that sin has done in the world. Secondly, meditate much on this, that many wicked men take more pains to damn their souls and go to hell—than you do to save your soul and to get to heaven. This practice both breaks one’s heart and drives home, again, how undeserving we are of God’s salvation.
- Get more internal and experimental knowledge and acquaintance with God. We are called to love God with all of our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds (Matt. 22:37). “Internal and experimental knowledge” speaks of our hearts. We cannot only study God and his ways, but we also must worship and enjoy God and his ways. Engaging with your church in weekly worship is an essential component for getting “more internal and experimental knowledge” of God.
- Look up to a crucified Christ for special power and strength against the pride of your hearts. At the end of the day, we cannot overcome pride and become more humble on our own. Only Christ can save us from pride and humble us. Jesus says in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
I pray these practical points would encourage you to press on in your pursuit of Christ and, by consequence, deeper humility.