There are different ways I could persuade you to read this book.
There are different ways I could describe myself.
I am an intelligent Christian Theology graduate from a great university that I worked to get into, am married to a beautiful woman, am really good at sailing and have a great family who love me, and I will eventually achieve all my hopes and dreams in life. I’ve also got another theology degree from a leading evangelical college, worked at another, and now work in Digital Marketing for the Oldest and Best UK Christian Publisher.
Which is a glimpse of the truth.
I am actually a sinner, blessed with a sure salvation by God, blessed with the freedom to study theology at a great university that I ended up by God’s providence, blessed with a wonderful wife, privileged to be able to enjoy sailing, and blessed beyond comprehension with a fantastic family without whom I would be nowhere, and I trust in God that he has a good plan for the rest of my life. Everything else has been an unexpected bonus, that I am slow to appreciate fully but could lose in a moment, and is all of the grace of God. None of these things make me who I am, but they matter, in different times and different ways, to someone somewhere. If I were proud of all this I would have ignored the surprising, amazing Grace of God in my life from birth through pain to the present and its trials/triumphs/tantalising glimpses of the Kingdom of God.
The second description is different, took longer, but reflects the radical impact that this book can have.
All Christians – especially me on some days – struggle with pride. The counterpoint to pride is humility. This book, by self-proclaimed non-humble person C.J.Mahaney, is a great antidote. Good Christian books are quick to identify a problem and then apply the Gospel in great doses direct to the heart of the issue. This book is one of them, and I would seriously encourage every and any Christian to read it.
Now, because this is a review, I’d better show you why.
John Stott pops up just 29 pages into this small 170 page book (And the pages are small, so its more like 120, so the transformation/hour rate of this book is marvellous), with a piece of real wisdom;
“At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend“
That being true, then, this book provides a manual to friendship, a heart-focused, practicality-drenched guide to seeking and continually seeking humility in our Christian lives. Mahaney, at his own admission, struggles with this – his honesty and personal testimony is clear throughout the book and really challenged me about how I need to deal with the issues of pride and humility. There are dozens of scripture references and explorations in this book, emphasising just how much of an issue this really is.
Mahaney offers up a great selection of practical advice in amongst the theology and scriptural nuggets of gold. This is a book that endorses quiet times, proposes a theology of sleep, redefines Greatness as Jesus did, and challenges us to to devote our entire life to God. Often we start the day with a QT, or prayer, and then the initially good day peters out – Mahaney challenges us; “Don’t be mistaken. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s just as sovereign, just as good, just as faithful when I’m buried under care as he was in those early hours of communion. The issue isn’t God. It’s my pride that resists trusting in Him through dependance upon Him“. And that is definitely true.
This book is one of those really rare books – a must read. Every Christian I have ever met, and every Christian I have ever been, struggles in some way with pride, and every Christian can always be more humbled. This book recognises that fact, and rests entirely in God and his word and in the Cross to show you how you can start to work out your salvation in fear and trembling – but realising what true greatness is, and how humility can transform your life. The book even includes some great thoughts on common problems – emulating sports heroes, desiring greatness for our children, and confusing other things with Christ-focused kingdom greatness.
And start living it.