Why humility?

JESUS' humility was not merely outward modesty but a deep spiritual recognition that his entire being and ability emanated from God. Pride was not a question in the healing he did. He knew the power that heals is God alone. Neither did Jesus set his own agenda for himself and the world. Instead he humbly yielded to what God had outlined. ``I can of mine own self do nothing,'' he said. ``I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.''1

Jesus is our Exemplar. He expected us to do as he did. In order, then, to understand the true nature of God and man and successfully live the truth Jesus taught, we need to follow his example of humility. The Master's humility was pure, of course, and it requires immense spiritual growth to emulate him fully. But we can begin that growth now.

True humbleness comes in proportion to our understanding of who we really are -- God's image, His expression. As the image of God, Spirit, man does not originate; he only expresses. ``I can of mine own self do nothing.'' In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy 2 asks, ``What is man?'' Part of her answer reads: ``...that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.''3

Genuinely discerning that we have no ability apart from what God expresses in us is the beginning of humility. This perception bursts pride's empty bubble; it softens us, quelling smugness and quieting the agitation that pride always brings. Humility instills peace and a gentle willingness to do God's will. It makes us more receptive to God's direction. It makes us more considerate of others and better able to work harmoniously with them.

More important -- and underlying all the other benefits -- is the fact that humility enables us to grow spiritually, to keep on the path that Christ Jesus mapped out. Mrs. Eddy writes, ``One can never go up, until one has gone down in his own esteem.'' And she says a few lines later, ``Cherish humility, `watch,' and `pray without ceasing,' or you will miss the way of Truth and Love.''4

To go down in our own esteem seems like a tough demand. Most of us are more than a little interested in going up in our own esteem. When I first became painfully aware of my own lack of humility, I prayed very hard to become more humble, partly out of fear of what pride was doing to me and partly out of a sincere desire to be more spiritually-minded. After praying diligently for some weeks I began to feel I was making good progress -- until I realized I was now feeling quite proud of how humble I was getting!

I hope I've made some progress since then, but the point is that humility doesn't come all at once. It takes work. It takes putting off old habits of thought, habits stemming from a fleshly sense of ourselves. It means learning not to kowtow to pride's self-centered demands -- either when we're praised or when we're criticized.

All of this takes persistence and experience. But as we do it we find that going down is really going up. As the Master said, ``He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.''5 To the degree that we take less pride in ourselves and understand our real selfhood as God's wonderful expression, eternally spiritual and perfect, we are freed from a limiting, material sense of ourselves and are better able to demonstrate our God-given capacities.

Increased humility brings spiritual progress, greater unselfishness, and a deeper peace. It's well worth striving for.

1John 5:30. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 475. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 356. 5Luke 14:11.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:10

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