“Pride goes before a fall, but humility before honor” (Proverbs 18:12)
I had a good friend who told the story of a man who “received a medal for humility… but they took it away from him because he wore it.”
Humility is a wonderful virtue, but often misunderstood. Humility is based in truth. A humble man does not say, “I’m no good, I’m a bum, I’m worthless”…. that is not true. But, a humble person also does not say “I’m the man… look at me… I’m the greatest, I’m the best”… that is not true.
A humble person lives in the truth and the truth about each of us has many facets. Truly each of us is of great value, made in the image and likeness of God…loved by God to the extent that God himself laid down his life to redeem us. But it’s also true that each of us has sinned and fallen far short of the glory of God.
How does a humble person act? Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Phil. 2:2-11) sheds light on this important question.
“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.(Phil. 2:2-11)
The virtue of humility may be defined as a “quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God’s sake.” St. Bernarddefines it: “A virtue by which a man knows himself as he truly is….” St.Thomas Aquinas says “The virtue of humility consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior”
So, as we seek to be more and more like Christ, let us pay close attention to the admonition towards humility. “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4) It’s not easy, but it will bring us true peace and joy… now and eternally.
Remember Christianity is a race for last place.