LESSONS IN HUMILITY
387. We will let another define “humility.” Andrew Murray defines it as “nothing but that simple consent of the creature to let God be all, in virtue of which it surrenders itself to His working alone.” Speaking of Christ, our example, he says: “His humility was simply the surrender of himself to God, to allow [God] to do to Him what He pleased, whatever men might say of him, or do to Him.”
388. Please notice thoughtfully a certain qualification in each of these definitions. In the first the creature “surrenders itself to GOD ALONE;” this is humility: in the second Christ does this, “whatever men around Him might say of Him, or do to Him.” Now I ask, is woman taught that it is “humility” for her to conduct herself after any such manner? Let us see. As to the first point, take, for instance, Dean Stanley’s teaching (paragraph 221): “The authority of the husband is enthroned visibly upon her [the wife’s] head in token that she belongs to the husband alone, and that she owes no allegiance to anyone besides, not even to the angels before the throne of God.” Now Mr. Murray’s definition as to humility speaks of GOD ALONE; Dean Stanley’s definition of a wife’s duty, as an allegiance to MAN ALONE. The first defines “humility;” the second defines “servility.” Since true humility excludes surrender to man (according to Mr. Murray), it is perfectly evident that exclusive allegiance to man would prevent a woman from exercising true humility.
389. But this allegiance, or surrender, to man is not merely servility. Let us seek to discover what it really is. Supposing, in days of old, Queen Elizabeth had gone in procession through the streets of London, and a man had stepped forward and waved the Arms of Mary Stuart on a banner before her face,¾what would have happened? This much at least: the cry of “treason” would have resounded through the air; we need not picture the further consequences.
390. A dispute for the throne has existed, between God and man, ever since in the Garden that ambition was fired in humanity to be “as God;” to be sure, it is a very foolish and impossible ambition on the part of man, which God, but for His long-suffering, might have ended long ago. Its culmination will be in the Lord’s return to “slay with the breath of His mouth” this “man of sin” who sets himself forth “as God,”¾2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. But this dispute is on, and what part in it shall women take, for at such a time the situation is both sensitive and critical? What will God wish His women to do? Dean Stanley answers in effect. “Let women show their humility, their willingness to take a lowly place; let them put on a veil to show they owe no allegiance but to MAN ALONE,¾not even to God’s own messengers, the angels before God’s throne.”
391. What madness for women to do this! And call it “humility!” What can be more arrogant, more bold and impudent, than to appear before one’s awful Monarch tricked out in such a manner as to demonstrate to His Majesty and all His Court, that one is in allegiance with His rival? But Dean Stanley did not mean to teach all this, in so many details. Then what did he mean? Who knows, but Satan? Satan knew very well how to clothe an insult to God in the garments of “humility” and “womanliness.” We observe that when an expositor and preacher of the Gospel wanders out of his path of duty “to preach Christ” as woman’s one example of conduct, and preaches “womanliness” instead, he sets up an idol of his own creation for women to worship; he turns himself to folly. We imagine such expositors would have been pleased had God sent into the world, an additional female Christ, to set women a female example; but since God did not see fit to do so, women are under obligation to endeavor, as best they are able, to follow the “manly” example of Jesus Christ, and leave the consequences with God. This is woman’s truly humble place. Any other is sham humility.
392. What was Christ’s attitude toward man, seeing HE ALONE is woman’s pattern? John 2:23-25 tells us plainly: “Many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” Let women do the same; they have here a very safe example to follow. What we know of “trust” in man must not go so far as to include the vitiation of our surrender to GOD ALONE. “What! a woman not trust her husband! Why, every husband loves a trusting wife; let her lean all her weight upon him. This is ideal marriage; any less trust than this will bring discord into the family.” Possibly it will; in some cases, the husband may quarrel with his wife unless she trusts him to this idolatrous extent. A trust that must be exercised towards a husband, who threatens discord otherwise, is of the world’s own kind. The Lord Himself said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” We believe that family concord can be better preserved apart from a trust on the part of the wife which amounts to idolatry of her husband; but if not, let discord prevail: at least, leave the result of absolute surrender to God alone in the hands of Him who requires it of every human being.
393. There is a “trust” of which one can properly approve,¾a reciprocal tie and duty between husband and wife. But this matter of the surrender of one’s entire person and conscience to the keeping of another human being is idolatry,¾a deadly sin against God. Love does not require it. Never man loved as Christ; never man trusted himself to man less than Christ did. The more He surrendered Himself to God, the more humble He was; and the less He committed Himself to man. Mark how He kept His conduct free from all human influences.
394. Even as a child of twelve, He lingers behind in the Temple, at His own discretion. His mother searches in vain for Him for several days. When found and reproached by her, He utters not a word of regret; rather a gentle reproof that she did not all once know that He was “about His Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). To be GOD’S ALONE meant literally to Him to be not man’s in the least. Later in life, His mother and brothers come to Him when teaching, apparently to take Him away from the crowd. He does not even leave His place to speak with them, but utters a declaration of entire independence, as to natural kinship, in favor of spiritual ties. (Matthew 12:46-50).
395. While letting God do what He pleased with Him, He made no concessions to man, “whatever men around might say of Him.” How differently women have been taught! At every step expected to ask themselves, “How will this look, for a woman?” As though woman should do everything with reference to her sex, rather than with reference to her God!Lesson 52 Home