Category Archives: Humility

“A prayer request for pastors” by J.C. Ryle

“I will ask one favour on behalf of the brethren who have done the principal part of the labour in the meeting now nearly concluded. We ask a special place in your intercessory prayers.

You should consider the position in which we are placed. We are often put forward into positions which others perhaps would fill just as well, if they would but make the trial, and we are deeply sensible of our own deficiencies.

But still, being put forward in the forefront of the battle, we may surely ask for a special place in your prayers.

We are only flesh and blood. We are men of like passions with yourselves. We have our private trials, and our special temptations.

Often, while watering the vineyards of others, our own is comparatively neglected. Surely, it is not too much to ask you to pray for us.

Pray that we may be kept humble and sensible of our own weakness, and ever mindful that in the Lord alone can we be strong.

Pray that we may have wisdom to take the right step, to do the right thing, in the right way, and to do nothing to cause the Gospel to be blamed.

Pray, above all, that we may go straight on, even unto the end– that we may never lose our first love, and go back from first principles,– that it may never be said of us, that we are not the men we once were, but that we may go on consistently and faithfully, die in harness, and finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, “What Is Our Position,” Home Truths, seventh series (Ipswich: William Hunt, 1859), 267-268. These words were addressed to pastors at Weston-Super-Mare in August 1858.

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“A way to pay attention to God” by Andy Naselli

“You may be tempted to skip this chapter because you think it’s boring or relatively unimportant. Grammar doesn’t have to be boring. (I love it!)

But more importantly, grammar matters because God chose to reveal Himself to us with grammar. So paying attention to grammar is a way to pay attention to God.

The more accurately you understand grammar, the more accurately you can understand God.”

–Andy Naselli, How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps From Exegesis To Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017), p. 82.

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“Humility, happiness, and holiness” by Charles Spurgeon

“There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus, all beginning with the letter hhumility, happiness, and holiness. May God give them to us!”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ Manifesting Himself to His People,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons (vol. 1; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 1: 226.

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“Reading and studying the Bible” by John Newton

“I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end; and, when we have finished it once, to begin it again.

We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in the second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second: provided we pray to Him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with His spiritual ointment.

The course of reading today will prepare some lights for what we shall read tomorrow, and throw a farther light upon what we read yesterday. Experience only can prove the advantage of this method, if steadily persevered in.

To make a few efforts and then give up, is like making a few steps and then standing still, which would do little towards completing a long journey.

But, though a person walked slowly, and but a little way in a day, if he walked every day, and with his face always in the same direction, year after year, he might in time encompass the globe.

By thus travelling patiently and steadily through the Scripture, and repeating our progress, we should increase in knowledge to the end of life.

The Old and New Testament, the doctrines, precepts, and promises, the history, the examples, admonitions, and warnings would mutually illustrate and strengthen each other, and nothing that is written for our instruction would be overlooked.

Happy should I be, could I fully follow the advice I am now offering to you. I wish you may profit by my experience.

Alas, how much time have I lost and wasted, which, had I been wise, I should have devoted to reading and studying the Bible!

But my evil heart obstructs the dictates of my judgment, I often feel a reluctance to read this Book of books, and a disposition to hew out broken cisterns which afford me no water, while the fountain of living waters are close within my reach.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 6; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 418–419.

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“The Lord’s hidden servants” by J.C. Ryle

“There are some true Christians in the world of whom very little is known.

The case of Joseph of Arimathea teaches this very plainly.

Here is a man named among the friends of Christ, whose very name we never find elsewhere in the New Testament, and whose history, both before and after this crisis, is completely withheld from the Church.

He comes forward to do honor to Christ, when the Apostles had forsaken Him and fled. He cares for Him and delights to do Him service, even when dead,—not because of any miracle which he saw Him do, but out of free and gratuitous love.

He does not hesitate to confess himself one of Christ’s friends, at a time when Jews and Romans alike had condemned Him as a malefactor, and put Him to death.

Surely the man who could do such things must have had strong faith! Can we wonder that, wherever the Gospel is preached, throughout the whole world, this pious action of Joseph is told of as a memorial of him?

Let us hope and believe that there are many Christians in every age, who, like Joseph, are the Lord’s hidden servants, unknown to the Church and the world, but well known to God.

Even in Elijah’s time there were seven thousand in Israel who had never bowed the knee to Baal, although the desponding prophet knew nothing of it.

Perhaps, at this very day, there are saints in the back streets of some of our great towns, or in the lanes of some of our country parishes, who make no noise in the world, and yet love Christ and are loved by Him.

Ill-health, or poverty, or the daily cares of some laborious calling, render it impossible for them to come forward in public; and so they live and die comparatively unknown.

Yet the last day may show an astonished world that some of these very people, like Joseph, honored Christ as much as any on earth, and that their names were written in heaven.

After all, it is special circumstances that bring to the surface special Christians.

It is not those who make the greatest show in the Church, who are always found the fastest friends of Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 334-335. Ryle is commenting on John 19:38-42.

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“I am not an elephant” by D.A. Carson

“For the last eight years I have spent more time studying the Gospel of John than any other part of the Scripture. This has proved to be a lesson in humility.

John is simple enough for a child to read and complex enough to tax the mental powers of the greatest minds. As one commentator has put it, this book is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim.

I am not an elephant; but I have become aware of the many places where I am beyond my depth.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 9.

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“The tallest and strongest saint” by Jonathan Edwards

“All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this Christian tenderness of heart, that has been spoken of: not only a godly sorrow; but also a gracious joy; Psalms 2:11, ‘Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.’

As also a gracious hope; Psalms 33:18, ‘Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.’ And Psalms 147:11, ‘The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, and in them that hope in his mercy.’

Yea the most confident and assured hope, that is truly gracious, has this tendency. The higher an holy hope is raised, the more there is of this Christian tenderness.

The banishing of a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is attended with a proportionable increase of a reverential fear.

The diminishing of the fear of the fruits of God’s displeasure in future punishment, is attended with a proportionable increase of fear of his displeasure itself: the diminishing of the fear of hell, with an increase of the fear of sin.

The vanishing of jealousies of the person’s state, is attended with a proportionable increase of jealousy of his heart, in a distrust of its strength, wisdom, stability, faithfulness, etc.

The less apt he is to be afraid of natural evil, having “his heart fixed, trusting in God,” and so, “not afraid of evil tidings” [Psalms 112:7]; the more apt is he to be alarmed with the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin.

As he has more holy boldness, so he has less of self-confidence, and a forward assuming boldness, and more modesty. As he is more sure than others of deliverance from hell, so he has more of a sense of the desert of it.

He is less apt than others to be shaken in faith; but more apt than others to be moved with solemn warnings, and with God’s frowns, and with the calamities of others.

He has the firmest comfort, but the softest heart: richer than others, but poorest of all in spirit: the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child amongst them.”

–Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1754), in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 364.

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