GROWTH IN GRACE AND THE COW’S TAIL
“When a minister asked a simple countryside woman what was her concept of “growing in grace,” she replied, “A Christian’s growth in grace is like the growth of a cow’s tail.” Puzzled at her reply, he asked for an explanation. Whereupon she said, “The more a cow’s tail grows, the nearer it comes to the ground; and the more a Christian grows in grace, the more does he take his place in the dust before God.” Ah, she had been taught from above something with which many an eminent theologian and commentator is unacquainted.
Growth in grace is a GROWTH DOWNWARD: it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a DEEPENING REALIZATION OF OUR NOTHINGNESS; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are NOT WORTHY of the least of God’s mercies”. [A.W. Pink]
“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I ABHOR MYSELF, and repent in dust and ashes”! [Job 42:5,6]
“The more true light a man hath, the more cause of self-abasement will he find in himself”. (Thomas Manton)
Consider the Apostle Paul’s progress in humility – Christ increasing and self decreasing.
Writing to the Corinthians in 55AD he said – “For I AM THE LEAST OF THE APOSTLES, who am NOT FIT TO BE CALLED AN APOSTLE, because I persecuted the church of God”. [1Cor 15:9]
Writing to the Ephesians in 61AD he wrote – “Unto me, who am LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL SAINTS, is this grace given . .” [Eph 3:8]
And toward the end of his life in 66AD, writing to Timothy he said – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I AM (not was) CHIEF”! [1Tim 1:15]
As you consider the above, you see that we come face to face with the phenomenon which is frequently seen in the great leaders and saints of the past. It is that the older they grow, the more acute is their own sense of sin and of weakness in themselves. Or as Spurgeon put it “He whose garments are the whitest will best perceive the spots upon them!” They see that what they once thought to be natural strengths are really weaknesses that emanate from the unredeemed (and unredeemable) FALLEN FLESH.
So if this (an increasing sense of the corruption of your old flesh nature) is beginning to happen to you, you are growing as a Christian. It has been well said that “He who knows himself best esteems himself least.”
Thomas Guthrie perfectly pictured Paul’s progression when he wrote…
The Christian is like the ripening corn; the riper he grows, the more lowly bends his head.