On Being Humble
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A Typical approach to getting ahead is to take every opportunity to enhance your image, make yourself known, remind people of your achievements, and work exceptionally long hours.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Then there's God's way. That is, to be modest, unpretentious, unselfish, lacking in vanity and arrogance. What one beatitude of Christ Jesus calls "meek."
In the Bible we read, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (I Pet. 5:6). But how? Above all we have to love. Jesus told Christians to love God supremely. And to love their neighbors as themselves. The Science of Christianity shows that we are actually created spiritual, the very image of God, who is Love. To express universal, impartial, divine Love is to individualize the power of God in our lives.
Paul, originally called Saul, was once the opposite of humble; he was arrogant, self-righteous, and zealous in his persecution of the early followers of Jesus (see Acts, Chap. 9). He was on his way to Damascus to arrest some of them when a light blinded him. This was so overwhelming he "fell to the earth." The Christ was revealed to Saul, and "... he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He obediently followed the voice he heard. He He accepted the message of Christ, and he was healed of his blindness. He was baptized. "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God."
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christianity in 1866, wrote: "Saul of Tarsus beheld the way - the Christ, or Truth - only when his uncertain sense of right yielded to a spiritual sense, which is always right. Then the man was changed.... He learned the wrong that he had done in persecuting Christians, whose religion he had not understood, and in humility he took the new name of Paul" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 326). His radical change of thought, and the enlightened spiritual understanding that accompanied it, enabled Paul to share what Jesus taught and to heal the sick. This was proof of the fact that a clearer understanding of God, as taught by Jesus, had exalted him.
What about us today? We can't be truly humble unless we know we have an ongoing, unbreakable relationship to God, in the spirit of Jesus' words "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). This statement expresses the fact that God made His creation, including you and me, good and spiritual, not flawed and material.
Changed thinking is often needed to find God. As Science and Health says, quoting from Jeremiah, "Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality. It is only a question of time when 'they shall all know Me [God], from the least of them unto the greatest' " (Pg. 242). To be humble, we have to be willing to change mistaken views of who we are and surrender the belief that we have a personal existence independent of God. Pride, egotism, self-will, self-righteousness, all stem from this belief. They vanish in proportion to our understanding that we are good, as God is good.
Anyone can follow the example of Jesus and find his or her spiritual identity as a child of God. This is glorifying God and expressing His qualities. A willingness to pray, to listen to God with receptivity, to be obedient to the Ten Commandments, is essential.
And the practical benefits? God gives grace to the humble; they find peace of mind; are blessed; discover more about who they really are; experience a greater degree of freedom; and they find healing. One woman who had experienced "sorrow after sorrow," followed by the deterioration of her health, was healed through reading Science and Health. And she wrote, "... I saw that I must get the right understanding of God! I closed the book and with head bowed in prayer I waited with longing intensity for some answer. How long I waited I do not know, but suddenly, like a wonderful burst of sunlight after a storm, came clearly this thought, 'Be still, and know that I am God.' I held my breath - deep into my hungering thought sank the infinite meaning of that 'I.' All self-conceit, egotism, selfishness,... sank abashed out of sight. I trod, as it were, on holy ground" (Pgs. 667-669).