Humility: The Little Way

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    How do we become humble? Is humility something we consciously seek after, or does it turn into pride whenever we grasp at it? Is it just dropped down on us like dew as we progress in our faith, or is it learned as we give away our pride and seek out ways to serve others?

    “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). You have a choice about how you treat others and how you view yourself in relationship to them. Humble yourself. Be humble.

    In the middle St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer, he says, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.” It is a humble prayer. So when the baby wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, we don’t pretend to be asleep so our husband or wife will get up. When the floor needs sweeping and the laundry needs washing, we sweep and we wash. When the kids have driven our spouses to the end of their ropes, and though we ourselves have our own deadlines, we pack the kids into the minivan and take them to the park. We daily die for our spouses and our children. We die for our neighbors. We must die, too, for the church.

    David, in the 131st Psalm, expresses another kind of humility:

    LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Ps 131:1-2)

    This is an exhortation we must remember in conversation. It is a picture of the soul, finally at rest, who is satiated by the love of the Father.

    When you are truly humble, you no longer need to be right or to be heard. You are willing to lie down that another may pass by. You are willing to lay aside what is precious to you for the sake of another, to consider others better and wiser than yourself. You are willing to be wrong and to be thought a fool in order to love others. If giving a gift opens doors (Proverbs 18:16), then what will happen when you give yourself?

    Humility is redemptive.

    Humility is seeing yourself clearly in the shadow of the Cross and in the light of God’s Kingdom. It is the first step in truly loving others, the first step toward true unity with others and communion with God. You are no longer afraid to die for your neighbors because you have come to the profound realization that Christ has already died for them.

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