Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday's Christlike Ideal of Humility

Last week the principle and ideal of faith were discussed and I give much thanks to Rev. Paul for helping me to have a better understanding of the principle. This week I will post about the concept of humility and how it applies to our lives. Humility is one of the greatest attributes man can strive to obtain, and while I am still a fledgling in the gospel of Jesus Christ I will seek to explain how I look at Humility.

Humility incorporates the idea of avoiding high positions when possible and discouraging and dismissing the flattering words of thoughtless friends. Humility can be thought of as a state of being meek in spirit, or freedom from pride and arrogance. A wise man once wrote, "Modesty is a shining light; it prepares the mind to receive knowledge, and the heart to receive truth. Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues." Humility also inspires an individual to learn by study, prayer, and divine guidance. It is a willingness to learn from others. It is the understanding that no mortal man can have a monopoly on the knowledge of all things.

Throughout the New Testament the idea of Humility can be found. In the Sermon on the Mount our Savior states, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for their's is the kingdom of heaven."(Matthew 5:3) and then later in the same sermon our Master proclaims, "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the Earth."(Matthew 5:5) Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians states, ". . . in lowliness of mind let each esteem other(s) better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3) The savior also speaks of Humility in Mathew 23:5-12

" But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. "

Once again our Lord would not ask us to do something he did not do. Christ lived and emphasized the ideal of humility in his life.

He taught his disciples, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child..."(Mathew 18:4) or in Matthew 18:3 when he said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children." The savior was trying to instruct his followers that as children our minds are often open and inquisitive but as we grow older our necks become stiff and our hearts hardened to new information that does not fit with what we believe. We need to exhibit the humility to understand that we can still learn, that we do not know all.

When his disciples were jocking for position regarding who would be greater in the kingdom of God our Lord taught them " But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:" (Matthew 20:25-27) We must remember not to let our humility become a thorn for us. That we are not to take the glory of men upon ourselves. That our pride should not lead us to the vain ambitions of the world that include the love of honor and glory so that we might be greater than those we serve.

We must also remember to not so highly place our position and honor that we are not willing to serve those we should. The Lord taught this by example when he washed the feet of his chief apostle Peter and instructed him that though we might prize our present position and reputation in life we must not cherish these things so much that we are unwilling to lay them aside for the humble things we may be called upon to do. We must not be afraid to get our hands dirty from time to time.

The Savior speaks and teaches of the importance of humility in our lives because its opposite pride is what comes between a man and God. It is pride that stops a man from entering into a relationship with Christ or following Christ later on. A proud man will lose all of sense of duty to God. He will place himself in the place of God. He starts to think from this wrong position and it influences the rest of his life negatively.

Part of humility encompasses the realization that "thy will be done" instead of "my will." As a follower of Christ we must realize that God is our Standard of perfection and that in comparison to his perfect and infinite virtues we are sorely lacking.

"And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness

Are His alone."

When we can acknowledge the things that God provides for us we will no longer be arrogant toward our fellow brother and sisters. We do not advertise ourselves to others. We do not do things to be seen of men. We do not need to be like the Pharisees who did their deeds to be seen of men, sought the positions of honor at feasts, clamored for the best seats in the synagogues and the worst of these was that they thought they had no need of repentance from sin.

There are two parts to humility we should consider. We should have personal humility and social humility. Personal humility incorporates the ideas of a proper perspective of the place we have in God's vast creation. It also embodies the idea that we must have humility for out personal progression in our relationship with Christ. We must also note that humility builds character and that humility is necessary for a true rendering of service to others.

Thomas Edison realized the vastness of God's creation when he said, "We don't know the millionth part of one percent about anything. We don't know what water is. We don't know what light is . . . We don't know what enables is to keep our feet when we stand up. We don't know what electricity is. We don't know what heat is. We don't know anything about magnetism We have a lot of hypothesises about these thing, but that is all. But we do not let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use."

We need to realize that, "The Heavens declare the glory of God; amid the firmament sheweth his handwork." (Psalms 19:1) We need to realize that the Milky way in which we live is but a tiny fragment, and within this tiny fragment is our solar system which is an infinitesimal speck and and within this speck is a microscopic dot which is Earth.

A test of humility lies not in failure but in success. When we are tempted to forget that all of our power and achievements have come because of God. We might deserve the success we gain in life but we will fail a far more important test if we do not acknowledge God's role in our success.

Baynard Taylor taught the idea of how humility can help us in the game of life,

"Our Business in life is not to get ahead of other people, but, to get ahead of ourselves. To break our own record, to outstrip our yesterdays with our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to whip the tempter inside and out as we never whipped him before, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever. . . To beat our own game means a great deal. Whether we win or not, we are playing better than we ever did before, and that's the point after all- to play a netter game of life."

Pride can keep us from providing service to those we should. Sometimes the color of ones skin causes us to be conceited and prevents us from doing the right thing. Other times we might be tempted to be a self righteous church goer, or we might possess the haughtiness or wealth or display the cruelty so often exhibited by social climbers. All of these sins can be overcame with the application of humility. If we do not have sympathy for our fellow man because of our pride we will no help them or serve them. Pride creates the idea of exclusiveness and unbrotherliness.

At the core of the ideal of humility is the expression that we must realize that we are no better or any more important in the eyes of God than anyone else who is striving to do good.

In closing I leave the words of a poet,

"He who must lead must first himself be led;

Who would be loved to be capable of love

Beyond the utmost he receives, who claims

The rod of power must first have bowed

And being honored, honor what's above:

This know the men who leave the world their names."