Thursday, May 27, 2010
This is not the first time I have attempted to write on this subject... but for every time I have made this attempt, I have failed. They say that only one who possesses humility can have a true understanding of it, and I daresay they are right. Nevertheless, in a bold concern for my readers, I will attempt to explain it. To allow this pearl of virtues to remain unsupported here would be a grave injustice.
Various definitions of humility differ greatly, but I have had the blessing to hear it defined in a way that truly satisfies me. Humility is truth, it is seeing ourselves as what we are in the eyes of God. Because God loves us unfathomably, and knows us as well as we can be known, His perspective of us is merciful and beautiful, though the realization of it may be painful at first for us. When we become aware of God's goodness contrasted with our uselessness, and delve into a more full knowledge of ourselves, we acquire that genuine virtuous mindset which is so characteristic of humility.
As with every virtue, Jesus Himself is the perfect example of humility. Whenever we begin to understand a virtue, He should become our role model, our visual and personification of that virtue. It would seem that Jesus' Divine Nature would prevent Him from humility, but on the contrary, it made His humility all the more potent. His deep reverence for the Father, His courageous meekness, and His obedience unto death exemplify the great dignity of humility. His charity towards others is a direct proof of His humility, for He saw worth where there was none and loved those whom He, as King, need not have loved. Finally, the words of Jesus show that He endorsed humility, and pressed it upon His followers; always being the first exhibiting the humility He asked the apostles to observe.
As I mentioned a moment ago, humility is involves true knowledge and perspective of self. Though I have the dignity of being created in the image of God, in the face of His Majesty I am quite useless and full of faults. I recognize and accept these faults, for in doing so I admit my nothingness and God's Mightiness. In addition to this, however, I recognize my talents as God given gifts, and am even more humbled by His bestowing them upon me. I do not reject them but, rather, honor His wisdom and admit my own unworthiness to question by accepting them and using them. I also see, by looking through God's eyes and obtaining some of His knowledge and perspective of myself, the dignity I am given by His love for me. I see that I would be nothing, if He did not love me, but the fact that the Lord of heaven and earth loves me makes me something. The something that I am is beautiful, important, and worthy of protection and spiritual nourishment.
If I have recognized my inferiority, and known my faults, I will find that the state of my own soul is more clear to me than the states of the souls of others. I also can understand by reason that God loves others, just as He loves me, and has raised them to a high dignity. Therefore my reverence for God can spread to them, but in a somewhat lesser manner. Considering myself their servant, inferior to the dignity of God in them, it is quite natural that I shall love and respect them more than I do myself (I can take no pride for the dignity of God in me without it being an active reverence towards Him). I know that I have reached a blessed excellence in humility if my perception of God in others, in contrast with my useless self, extends to every single person, without exception. Because of this, I can look upon the gravest faults of my neighbor and still see more good in them than I do myself. It is a blessing that God does not ask us to judge each other, or I would face a painful contradiction!
True humility, as I am discussing, infers several other virtues. The knowledge of God's love for us stimulates charity. The preference of the will of God and others to our own caused by realization of our uselessness stimulates obedience. The understanding that we have been created from nothing, and deserve nothing, but for the love of God, stimulates holy poverty. The admittance of our weakness before the Majesty of God stimulates immense gratitude. The renewed belief in true justice stimulates industriousness. In like manner other virtues also appear, giving that blessed character found in those who are humble.
I have not explained the pursuit of humility, or gone into depth about its values, but the purpose of this post has been only to define it. Humility is a pure virtue, sought by those who love truth. This virtue is one of the most admirable we find in the lives of the saints because it seems so distant and difficult to obtain... but the virtue of humility comes from God, and it comes to all who seek it with simple trust. If you stand before Jesus wearing the crown of humility, I doubt that His mercy could sentence you to death; it is far more likely that He will adorn you with love and greater gifts. The last shall be first, the unassuming shall be given possession of the land, and children shall sit in seats of splendor in the presence of God.