December 8, 2008

a child squinting

Quotes from Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas

Chapter 7 - The High and the Low: A Double-Sided Humility

"Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because He shows us both God and our own wretchedness." - Blaise Pascal

"There was a time in my life when I feared sin so much that I focused almost exclusively on not sinning. Now sin is a very disturbing thing and you might well ask what could be wrong with fearing it. The answer is that my fear was so separated from God's grace that I was afraid to take an honest look into my own heart. I thus lost touch with my weaknesses, and the result was pride. I lived in an illusory and self-deceiving "holiness" based on discipline and works while my heart was full of evil attitudes and judgments. God used a period of dryness to reveal the true state of my heart."

"In the dryness and emptiness of this night of the appetite, a person also procures spiritual humility, that virtue opposed to the first capital vice, spiritual pride. Through this humility acquired by means of self-knowledge, individuals are purged of all those imperfections of the vice of pride into which they fell in the time of their prosperity. Aware of their own dryness and wretchedness, the thought of their being more advanced than others does not even occur in its first movements, as it did before; on the contrary, they realize that others are better. From this humility stems love of neighbor, for they will esteem them and not judge them as they did before when they were aware that they enjoyed an intense fervor while others did not. These persons will know only their own misery and keep it so much in sight that they will have no opportunity to watch anyone else's conduct." ~John of the Cross

"Ironically, if our self-understanding is truly born in heaven it will actually encourage us rather than discourage us... Once our self-view is no longer tied to our own worth but to the worth ascribed to us in God, we can readily admit our shortcomings and begin working on them while we are encouraged that we are not left alone in our failings."

"When we are ashamed about where we are spiritually, we have two choices: We can create a false front and a glittering image, or we can be honest before God, ourselves and others about our weakness and allow transformation to occur. We will not have the energy or resources to do both; we must choose one or the other."

"Humility is at root a celebration of our freedom in Christ; we are freed from having to make a certain impression or create a false front."

"Humility is simply admitting what is true."

"...God is supreme truth; and to be humble is to walk in truth, for it is a very deep truth that of ourselves we have nothing good but only misery and nothingness. Whoever does not understand this walks in falsehood." ~Teresa of Avila

"A peasant shut up in his village only partially knows his wretchedness, but let him see rich palaces, a superb court, and he will realize all the poverty of his village. He cannot endure its hovels after a sight of so much magnificence. It is thus that we see our ugliness and worthlessness in the beauty and infinite grandeur of God." ~Fenelon

"It's easy for a man or woman to be proud until he or she gains a glimpse of the God of the universe. Once we see what could be, humility is as natural a reaction as a child squinting his or her eyes to block out the glare of the sun."

"I need to be in awe of God today... If I ever lose that profound reverence that leaves me standing silent in fascination and wonder, pride and sin will be waiting to claim my soul."

"Keeping sight of God is vital to humility, just as keeping in touch with humility is vital to seeing God. We cannot maintain one without the other."

"Christian communities, including families and churches, break down in proportion to the loss of humility of their members."

"Community is essential for humility because how we treat others is a better test of our humility than how we treat ourselves."

"If you were in this happy [humbled] state, far from impatiently enduring those who are not, the immense stretch of your heart would make you indulgent and compassionate toward all the weaknesses which shrink selfish hearts. The more perfect we are, the more we get along with imperfection. The Pharisees could not bear the publicans and the women sinners, whom Jesus Christ treated with such gentleness and kindness." ~Fenelon

"When Jesus faced self-righteous hypocrisy He was brutal and unyielding in His confrontation, but when He faced those caught in the misery of sin He often showed a softer face, becoming a Savior who would not break a bruised read or blow out a smoldering wick (
Isaiah 42:3).

"The enemy often suggests a great desire of things that are absent, and which shall never occur, so that he may divert our mind from present objects, from which, however trivial they may be, we might obtain considerable profit to ourselves." ~Francis de Sales

"The King of Glory does not recompense his servants according to the dignity of the offices they hold, but according to the measure of love and humility with which they exercise them. Saul, seeking the asses of his father, found the kingdom of Israel. Rebecca, watering the camels of Abraham, became the spouse of his son. Ruth, gleaning after the reapers of Boaz, and laying down at his feet, was advanced to his side and made his wife..." ~Francis de Sales

"The proud man, who trusts in himself, has just reason not to attempt anything; but he that is humble is so much the more courageous, by how much the more he acknowledges his own inability; and the more wretched he esteems himself the more confident he becomes; because he places his whole trust in God, who delights to display his omnipotence in our weakness and to elevate his mercy upon our misery." ~Francis de Sales

Chapter 6 quotes
(You can follow the link trail to prior chapter notes from there.)



Anonymous said...

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Thanks for entering!
Rebekah Merkle

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to share these excerpts. I've enjoyed them so much, I bought a copy of the book for myself and one for my brother. Your blog is such an encouragement--keep it coming!Y'all have a wonderful Christmas!
-Lana Watson