VIRTUES & VICES: 6 Steps to Humility




These last few months I’ve been reading books written by revered monks in Christendom: Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Benedict of Nursia, Saint Thomas Aquinas, along with modern Christian mystics Thomas Merton and C. S. Lewis to name a few. I’ve learned that no matter what century people live in, they have the same personal issues and temptations we have today and those start and end with pride and humility.


VIRTUE: excellence of character that helps us live well as human beings; holy habits.


humility: noun 

1. the modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.


Humility is ultimately about our struggle to be fully human; to be rooted in our earthly self vs. deceived by our prideful false self.  


This becomes clear when we look at the origin of the word humble. The root is the Latin word humus, which means “soil” or “earth.” From this follows the practical definition: to be humble is to be down-to-earth. This root connects humility to humanity because to be human is to be made from the humus. After all God created the first man from earth. 

When we examine relationships gone wrong, we usually find a lack of humility or an excess of pride at the root of the problems.

VICE: corruptive habits that undermine our character and ability to live well.

pride: noun

1. an inflated sense of one’s personal status; the love of one’s own excellence.


Pride seen as the original sin is really the root of all vice. If we let it take hold, pride can get us in a world of trouble. 


Pride wants to be “number one,” head of the class, superior to others. Climbing over others in our ambition, we’re often acting out in greed, wrath, lust or other vices. Pride can also be a false front designed to protect an undervalued self.

How can we replace pride with humility?


Like most things connected to the inner workings of our heart, humility isn’t something we can make happen on our own; it’s a process that takes time and must start with God. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help us get started…

  1. Center Our Lives on God: By recognizing God’s presence in our lives and accepting His will, we learn our place in the universe and can embrace awareness.
  2. Find Power in Weakness: Appreciating others in the universe and learning from their wisdom and gifts, we find spiritual direction and gain strength to persevere.
  3. Shed False Images: Acknowledging our faults and living simply, we’re free to drop the masks and ignore the social pressures of consumption and indebtedness.
  4. Bond Our Relationships: Once we stop pretending to be what we’re not, we find the freedom to accept ourselves and others as well; creating harmony in our relationships.
  5. Quiet the Noise: Silence enables us to hear the noise within, brings us face to face with ourselves, tempers our arrogance and makes us kinder to others.
  6. Live in God’s Presence: A gentle presence brings a sense of the sacred to life. When we walk with God others are able to experience our serenity. 

As you can see, humility begins and ends with God at the center of our lives. Unless and until we have His presence present we will be miserable within and without. Humility seems like a simple thing because it’s a common word. Though simple it’s not easy, but so very important to our world.

“Humility connects us to the world and makes the world connected, a good and gracious space. Humility calms us and and calms others. It inspires, assures, enriches and enables. Humility gifts us with happiness and graces the world with peace.” ~ Joan D. Chittister 



God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) When Christ came He brought grace. So the humble person who knows the Truth will be given grace. Grace is also another word for favor or reward. Here are a few rewards for our humility:

Wisdom: Humility gives us the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

Wealth and Honor: The humble person has God’s favor which often means wealth and honor. 
Long Life: A humble person is teachable and more willing to live a healthy lifestyle.

As we listen to The Maranatha Singers http://youtu.be/sU8MAQKSbEI let’s ask God to reveal what’s keeping us from being the humble person He wants us be. 



Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up in honor. ~ James 4:10 NLT

Resources:
Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee
Virtue and Vice: A Dictionary of the Good Life by C. S. Lewis
The Heart of Virtue by Donald DeMarco
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
The Rule of Saint Benedict by St. Benedict edited by Thomas Fry
The Greatest Virtue: The Secret to Living in Happiness and Success by Pat Robertson
Biblical Counseling Keys: Pride and Humility – The Prescription for “I” Strain  by June Hunt
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humility  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride 

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

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