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Friday, September 30, 2005

Book Review - Humility: True Greatness

These past of couple weeks, I had a chance to read a pre-publication version of C.J. Mahaney's upcoming new book titled Humility: True Greatness, in exchange for providing a review on my blog. Talk about a win-win situation! In the interest of full disclosure, I'm also going to receive a free copy of the book as a gift for blogging on the book.

One of the pluses of the blog/web world is the ability to cross-link between pages, so before I offer you my impressions of the book, I'll point you the excellent preview of the book over at Tim Challies' site.

Now for my own thoughts. For a long time, I've procrastinated on reading Mahaney's The Cross Centered Life. After reading this book on humility, I'm very motivated to go pick that one up as well. Mahaney is a terrific author: his humorous and readable style is well-complemented by sober and serious Biblical substance.

The book is broken up into three parts. The first section defines the premises and necessity of humility. The second examines how Jesus' life — and especially his death —both model humility and enable us in its pursuit. The final section is essentially Mahaney's advice for practicing humility, both in daily activities and specific areas in life.

A friend once commented that Jerry Bridges' books are as valuable for their bibliographies as they are for their content. I think the same could easily be said for this book. I was amazed by the sheer number of quotes and references to other books and resources. This alone, to me, speaks of Mahaney's genuineness in pursuing humility. He doesn't pretend to have mastered humility. In fact, if anything, this book invites the reader to join him in this very important pursuit. How important is it? As Mahaney points out, if God gives grace to the humble, and opposes the proud, would you rather have God opposed to you? The author does a great job of drawing the reader into Mahaney's own yearning for humility (with his characteristic self-effacing humor). At the same time, his examples and words really forced me to look at my own life and not merely absorb his book as "a good story" to be forgotten.

The two other strengths of this book are its gospel-centeredness (unsurprising given Mahaney's other well-known book) and its very readable suggestions for growing in humility.

Over and over, Mahaney emphasizes the need to place the gospel at the forefront of our pursuit of humility, lest it (ironically) become simply a basis for self-pride. This short book is saturated through and through with reminders of the absolute centrality of the cross, which is both unsurprising and altogether crucial; since the cross is the ultimate reminder that a sinful man being proud is, well, stupid (my word, not his).

I especially appreciated his practical suggestions and exhortations to growing in humility. The book is short, so I won't go into detail (lest I keep you from reading it yourself). That being said, in this section, especially helpful were his numerous suggestions for further reading; as well as his chapter dedicated to parents. Being a young parent myself, it was a very poignant reminder of the place and practice of humility in family life. I loved the fact, in addition, that he suggested so many good books for further reading in order to stimulate humility. Most of them, truth be told, are on my bookshelves waiting to be opened. <grin>

In summary, let me encourage everyone to get a copy of this book (and perhaps even Sovereign Grace Ministries can offer a downloadable copy of it!). I really believe the Lord can use it to help his saints be more like the Savior they represent to the world around them.