In his 1895 work, Humility, Andrew Murray writes this:
"In our ordinary religious teaching, the second aspect has been too exclusively put in the foreground, so that some have even gone to the extreme of saying that we must keep sinning if we are indeed to keep humble. Others again have thought that the strength of self-condemnation is the secret of humility. And the Christian life has suffered loss, where believers have not been distinctly guided to see that, even in our relation as creatures, nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, that God may be all; or where it has not been made clear that it is not sin that humbles most, but grace, and that it is the soul, led through its sinfulness to be occupied with God in His wonderful glory as God, as Creator and Redeemer, that will truly take the lowest place before Him."
I'm in the process of going back through this little book, which I highly recommend to the reader by the way. You can find it online for free. But I must admit I'm struck by one of his opening statements which I must have failed to truly consider the first time through:
"...nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, that God may be all"
How far away is this mindset from how many normally think or even from what we are taught in the modern church!? And how much of our drama is based on "wanting to be something or get something or feel something?"
Here is a word I'm meditating on: nothing. It is blessed to be nothing that God may be all. All of my work: nothing unless He is glorified. All of my gifts: nothing, unless He is central. All of my stewardship: nothing, unless it is available for His use. All of my visions and goals and achievements: nothing, unless Christ is made much of. What do I truly deserve from Him? Nothing but pain and punishment. And yet He has saved....
Murray concludes his Preface (yes, all of this good stuff is in the PREFACE) by writing:
"If Jesus is indeed to be our example in His lowliness, we need to understand the principles in which it was rooted, and in which we find the common ground on which we stand with Him, and in which our likeness to Him is to be attained. If we are indeed to be humble, not only before God but towards men, if humility is to be our joy, we must see that it is not only the mark of shame, because of sin, but, apart from all sin, a being clothed upon with the very beauty and blessedness of heaven and of Jesus. We shall see that just as Jesus found His glory in taking the form of a servant, so when He said to us, "Whosoever would be first among you, shall be your servant," He simply taught us the blessed truth that there is nothing so divine and heavenly as being the servant and helper of all. The faithful servant, who recognizes his position, finds a real pleasure in supplying the wants of the master or his guests. When we see that humility is something infinitely deeper than contrition, and accept it as our participation in the life of Jesus, we shall begin to learn that it is our true nobility, and that to prove it in being servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny, as men created in the image of God."
Again, if you haven't read this little book, highly recommended.