1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
As, on the one hand, it prevents us from envying others what they possess, so, on the other, it keeps us from glorying in what we possess ourselves.
I. WHAT HUMILITY IS.
1. A sense of our own comparative meanness.
(1) As regards God (Genesis 18:27).
(2) As regards our fellow-creatures. Man is very mean as compared with multitudes of a superior rank in the universe, and most men are mean in comparison with many of their fellow men. He that has a right sense and estimate of himself in comparison with God, will be likely to have his eyes open to see himself aright in all respects. All this would apply to men considered as unfallen beings. But humility in fallen men implies a sense of a tenfold meanness.
(a) Man's natural meanness consists in his being infinitely below God in natural perfection, and in God's being infinitely above him in greatness, power, wisdom, majesty, etc.
(b) The truly humble man, since the fall, is also sensible of his moral meanness and vileness (Isaiah 6:5; Job 42:5, 6; Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 5:3).
2. A disposition to a corresponding behaviour and conduct. Without this there is no true humility. The devils and damned spirits see much of their comparative littleness before God in some respects. Note —
(1) Some things in our behaviour toward God to which humility will dispose us.
(a) To acknowledge our meanness or littleness before God.
(b) To be distrustful of ourselves and to depend only on God.
(c) To renounce all the glory of the good we have or do, and to give it all to God (Psalm 115:1).
(d) Wholly to subject ourselves to God.
(2) It disposes to a behaviour toward men answerable to our comparative meanness. It tends —
(a) To prevent an aspiring and ambitious behaviour amongst men (Jeremiah 45:5; Romans 12:16).
(b) An ostentatious behaviour (Matthew 23:5).
(c) An arrogant and assuming behaviour (Philippians 2:3; Ephesians 3:8).
(d) A scornful behaviour (Romans 12:16).
(e) A wilful and stubborn behaviour (Romans 12:19; 1 Corinthians 6:7; Matthew 5:40, 41).
(f) A levelling behaviour (Romans 13:7; Titus 3:1).
(g) A self-justifying behaviour (James 5:16; Psalm 141:5).
II. THE SPIRIT OF CHARITY IS AN HUMBLE SPIRIT.
1. It implies and tends to humility.
(1) It implies humility. And this appears plain from two considerations: because a sense of the loveliness of God is peculiarly that discovery of God that works humility; and because, when God is truly loved, He is loved as an infinite superior.
(2) It also tends to humility.
(a) Love inclines the heart to that spirit and behaviour that are becoming the distance from the beloved. The devils know their distance from God, but they are not reconciled to it. And so love to man, arising from love to God, disposes to an humble behaviour toward them, inclining us to give them all the honour and respect that are their due.
(b) Love to God tends to an abhorrence of sin against God, and so to our being humbled before Him for it.
2. It tends to draw forth such exercises of love as do especially imply and tend to it. The gospel leads us —
(1) To love God as an infinitely condescending God(2) To love Christ as an humble person (Philippians 2:6-8; Matthew 10:24, 25; Matthew 20:25-28; John 13:13-16).
(3) To love Christ as a crucified Saviour.
(4) To humble exercises of love, because it leads us to love Christ as one that was crucified for our sakes.Conclusion:
1. Note the excellency of a Christian spirit (Proverbs 12:26; 1 Peter 3:4).
2. Examine yourselves, and see if you are indeed of an humble spirit (Habakkuk 2:4; James 4:6).
3. Let strangers to the grace of God seek that grace, that they may thus attain to this spirit of humility (Proverbs 16:5; Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 29:23; 2 Samuel 22:28; Isaiah 23:9).
4. Let all be exhorted earnestly to seek much of an humble spirit, and to endeavour to be humble in all their behaviour toward God and men.
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,