Paul was dependent, and self-emptied. There is a wonderful glory about emptiness when the Lord does it. It is not always a glorious feeling to feel empty, but it is marvelous how the Lord gets glory through emptying us, and keeping us emptied, until He wants us full. One of the things that the apostle said to the Corinthians in a kind of irony was: “Ye are full… ye have reigned as kings without us.” That was no compliment. They are not to be admired for that. It was pride. “We are accounted as the offscouring of all things.” “Ye are full… ye have reigned as kings without us.” Yes, but after all, what was it the Lord said to the church at Laodicea? “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
There is an emptiness which brings much glory to God, and humility is being poor in spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God dwells with such as are of a broken and contrite spirit. God-centeredness is the opposite of self-centeredness, that all our wellsprings, all our resources, our everything is in the Lord, and all our interests are in the Lord. As for self-exaltation, the Lord made Himself of no reputation, He humbled Himself.
If pride, with these various aspects, led to death, then humility after this kind, that which Paul calls “the meekness of Christ”, leads to life; life by humility, life by meekness; death by pride. “God beholdeth the proud afar off”; “Pride is an abomination unto the Lord”. If pride puts us away back there, there is not much hope of life. When pride is out of the way, God draws near, and there is life.
If, again, the result of pride was darkness, then humility, meekness, is the way of light. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” You will learn by that spirit. It is enlightening. We said that the great law which governed everything was that of heart fellowship with the Lord, and we saw that that heart fellowship was broken by pride in the heart, the heart lifted up in pride. Now, says the apostle, “the eyes of your heart being enlightened”. This is heart fellowship with the Lord, bringing about enlightenment, leading to enlightenment, or making possible enlightenment.