By Hugh Binning
The apostle Paul gives a solemn charge to the Romans (Romans 12:3), that no man should think highly of himself; but soberly, according to the measure of faith given. That extreme undervaluing and denial of all worth in ourselves, though it be suitable before God (Luke 17: 6,7,10, Proverbs 30: 2,3 Job 42: 6, 1st Corinthians 3:7), yet it is not attracting to and is in-congruent with men.
Humility does not exclude all knowledge of any excellency in itself, or defect in another, it can discern, but this is the value of it: that it thinks soberly of the one, and not despise the other. The humble man knows any advantage he has beyond another, but he is not wise in his own conceits. He looks not so much on that side of things, his own perfections and others imperfections. That is very dangerous. But he casts his eye most on the other side, his own weaknesses and the others’ virtues, his worst part and their best part, and this makes up an equality or proportion.
Where there is inequality, there is a different measure of gifts and graces, there are many different varieties of failings and weaknesses, and degrees of them. Now, how shall so unequal members make up one body, and join into one harmonious being, except this proportion be kept, that the defects of one be made up by the humility of another? The difference and inequity is taken away this way, by fixing my thoughts upon my own disadvantages and my brother’s advantages. If I am higher in any way, yet certainly I am lower in some, and therefore the unity of the body may be preserved by humility. I will consider in what way I come short, and in what way another excels, and so I can be lowered to them of low degree. This is the substance of that which is spoken here. (Romans 12:16) “Do not mind high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Do not be wise in your own conceits.” And this makes us come together in honor to prefer one another, thinking about the evil that is in us, and thinking of the good that is in others. (Romans 12:10) “Be kindly affectionate one to another, with brotherly love in honor preferring one another.”
In this way there may be an equality of mutual respect and love, where there is a inequality of gifts and graces, there may be one measure of charity, where there are different measures of faith, because both neglect that disparity, and think on their own evils and the other’s good.
It is our way to compare ourselves among ourselves, and the result of that secret comparison is favored conceit of ourselves and the despising of others. We take our measure, not by our own real and intrinsic qualities, but by the stature of other men’s, and if we find any disadvantage in others, or any preeminence in ourselves, in such a partial application and comparison of ourselves with others (as readily self-love, if it doesn’t find it, will imagine it), then we have a secret glorying within ourselves. But the humble Christian dares not make himself of that number, nor does he boast of things without his measure. He dares not to think himself good, because, deterioribus melior, “better than others who are worse.” But he judges himself by the intrinsic measure which God has distributed to him, and so finds reason of sobriety and humility, and therefore he dares not stretch himself beyond his measure, or go beyond his station and degree, (2nd Corinthians 10:12-14).
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