The fact that it took me about three years to finally get through this book on humility probably says a lot about me. Though I’ve read it once before, (I’d written this entire review and only then discovered I’d already reviewed the book a year back: here. I feel this review better captures the book, though), this most recent time I practically devoured it by comparison: finishing the book in about two sessions. This book packs an incredible message: one that’s hard to full absorb until you have read the book two or three times.
The book opens by defining humility and pride, in two short chapters. In these two chapters, C.J. Mahaney uses verse after verse to construct what the Bible really teaches about these two concepts. I found his definition of pride especially convicting: “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him (pg. 31).” Throughout, there’s a clear focus on God’s Word and on God Himself; a focus C.J. Mahaney maintains throughout the book.
The next two chapters form the real meat of the book (They are likely what help up my previous attempts to read this book). Humility, Mahaney writes, is when we are less so that God may be greater. Humility is all about God. And when we are less, and more like Christ, that is when we are truly great in God’s eyes. Again C.J. Mahaney points us towards the cross. The closer we are to the cross, the more we are aware of our own foolish pride. Not only that, but Christ’s death exemplifies the humility that Mahaney calls us to in this book, and enables us to practice that same humility. This is the climax of the book, and Mahaney, in the next section, calls for it to be the climax of our lives as well.
Most of the rest of the book talks of practical ways to cultivate humility. Being sermons that have been edited to fit book form, the applications are a bit disjointed. But they are drawn together by the focus of the book, which is undoubtedly the cross of Christ. This, in fact, is Mahaney’s first and greatest application in the book: a focus on the cross of Christ is the best way to grow in humility. He then moves through a list beginning with simple things to do every day, to specific studies that remain applicable for a lifetime.
What I so love about this book is its focus: C.J. Mahaney got it absolutely right. The cross of Christ and humility are inextricable just as everything in our life is inextricable from the cross, for it is only in the former that we find the latter. Similarly, unless you approach this book with an awareness of the cross of Christ, it will be meaningless. C.J. Mahaney is a man drenched in the cross’s grace, and in this book he shares with you his knowledge, correctly pointing us towards the true source of humility.
This is an incredible book which strikes at the very root of pride. As with anything, it’s not a simple one-step process: reading this book will not make you humble any more than reading a book on cupcakes makes you a cupcake. But it’s a foundation from which to build a life of humility and a deeper closeness to God. I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. And if, like me, it takes you several tries to get through it, don’t be discouraged: put it aside and try again at another time in your life – it makes a world of difference, sometimes. Maybe even read it twice. I know that I’ll definitely be applying these principles until the day I die.
Published on 5 June, 2012. Last updated on