Humility is sometimes misunderstood by well-meaning people. It is often equated with having to adjust to one's personal inadequacies and with being submissive to limited opportunity. But such acceptance of limitation paralyzes hope and eclipses aims and efforts.
Humility might instead be seen as the exchanging of a cramped human definition of oneself for a better one. The common view of man as the offspring of limited, personal parenthood and ancestry would keep one's destiny in a holding pattern of chance and disappointment. But this is not the definition of self that is found in the Bible. The Psalmist sang, ''What is man, that thou [ God] art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? . . . Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.'' n1
n1 Psalms 8:4, 6.
In accordance with the Bible, Christian Science teaches that man is not really a mortal personality lodged in a material body but the spiritual image of God, dwelling in and reflecting the majesty of infinite Mind itself. The real mentality of each one of us expresses divine intelligence and includes infinite good alone. Divine Love is our Father-Mother Mind.
A limited sense of self is never really satisfied. It cannot be. Therefore it often seeks to compensate for its incompleteness through aggressive selfishness, through sin and egotism. Egotism is not a satisfied posture. It fools itself, clothing itself in the shadows of an empty pride. Surely what we must humiliate is the illusion of limitation that ignorance of truth imposes upon individual human destiny. Christ, God's healing message, reveals the truth of our relationship to God, of our expression of infinite, intelligent good. The Christ-idea dwells within each of us. Humbling a material, personal sense of ourselves to this divinity within unlocks the capacity to listen and to learn from God, and to honor our neighbor with attentive respect. Jesus said, ''Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.''n2 Blessed indeed are we when we subordinate self to Soul, Spirit. To identify with the divine Ego is to reflect dominion over all.
n2 Matthews: 5:5.
In my Sunday School class of ten-year-olds one of the boys was given to much bragging about his personal prowess and exploits. Some of his stories sounded unlikely. The other pupils resented his bragging and monopolizing of the conversation and it was becoming a problem. Talking about humility didn't seem much help. One Saturday night I prayed very earnestly for an answer. All at once I realized that what the boy needed was not so much to be humbled but to feel a sense of the majesty of his true manhood.
In prayer I cherished the spiritual royalty of man's Christliness. I knew that the action of divine Love always humiliates a painful sense of inadequacy and imparts a realization of man's spiritual dominion. I remembered this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ''More than regal is the majesty of the meekness of the Christ-principle; and its might is the ever-flowing tides of truth that sweep the universe, create and govern it; and its radiant stores of knowledge are the mysteries of exhaustless being. Seek ye these till you make their treasures yours.''n3
n3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 149.
My prayer changed my own thought about the boy. But I also realized that all of us in the class reflected the one divine Mind. And I was sure that prayer could so illumine our impressions of each other that we could celebrate the real royalty that each one of us has as the child of the one Father. Our appreciation of the majesty of spiritual man could be unanimous and all-inclusive.
The next class session was wonderful. The young boy's braggadocio had been transformed into a quiet, thoughtful desire to listen to the discussion. And there was a spirit of keen mutual appreciation among the pupils. And so it remained.
Humility radiates from an inner awareness of one's own grandeur. Meekness and dominion are partners. They go hand in hand in the light of the spiritual understanding of God and His idea -- of the infinite Mind reflecting His majesty in man. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalms 119:18