Growing Into Humility

byJ.I. Packer

Spiritual health, like bodily health, is God’s gift. But, like bodily health, it is a gift that must be carefully cherished, for careless habits can squander it. By the time we wake up to the fact that we have lost it, it may be too late to do much about it. The focus of health in the soul is humility, while the root of inward corruption is pride. In the spiritual life, nothing stands still. If we are not constantly growing downward into humility, we shall be steadily swelling up and running to seed under the influence of pride. Humility rests on self-knowledge; pride reflects self-ignorance. Humility expresses itself in self-distrust and conscious dependence on God; pride is self-confident and, though it may go through the motions of humility with some skill (for pride is a great actor), it is self-important, opinionated, tyrannical, pushy, and self-willed. ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Prov. 16:18).

As quinine is the antidote to malaria, so humility is the antidote to pride. In the sense in which Shakespeare’s Orsino in Twelfth Night sees music as the food of love, repentance should be seen as the food of humility. Or changing the picture, repentance should be thought of as the exercise routine that maintains humility, and through humility, health in the soul.”

~ Rediscovering Holiness, pp. 149-150

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