We often appreciate humility when we see it in others. But we may think of it as icing on the cake—an admirable quality but not essential. Humility, though, is foundational, and the Christly demand to be humble reaches deeper into thought and character than we might realize.
Many years ago I first came face to face with my own need to be more humble. I prayed earnestly and often for more humility, and after a while I started to feel I was making good progress—until I realized I was now feeling proud of how humble I thought I was becoming!
It was humorous to be sure. But I’ve since learned the serious lesson that true humility is not superficial, because it goes to the heart of how we think of ourselves. And it means that how we think of ourselves needs to become far more spiritual.
Christ Jesus gave us the standard that we can draw ever closer to: “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). Jesus wasn’t saying he could do nothing. He was saying that the spiritual ability he manifested was not in him.
And Jesus meant it. He knew that statement to be true, and it’s clear from the Bible that he felt it and lived it. “The Son can do nothing of himself,” Jesus said, “but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). He was explaining that the spiritual ability, intelligence, wisdom, and power he expressed were in God, His Father, not in himself. He could only reflect God’s benevolence and power.
That’s the essence of humility—knowing that we too are one with God, emanating from God as His image. Therefore we reflect all that God, divine Life, is doing. We manifest all that the divine Mind is knowing. Our capacities all have their source in Soul. No ability or action is of ourselves.
The Christly demand to be humble reaches deeper into thought and character than we might realize.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy lays out the reality of our being, which underlies humility: “Your mirrored reflection is your own image or likeness. If you lift a weight, your reflection does this also. If you speak, the lips of this likeness move in accord with yours. Now compare man before the mirror to his divine Principle, God. Call the mirror divine Science, and call man the reflection. Then note how true, according to Christian Science, is the reflection to its original. As the reflection of yourself appears in the mirror, so you, being spiritual, are the reflection of God” (pp.515–516).
In this reality of spiritual reflection, the animating power is God, and God alone. Man is God’s image—effect, not cause. So we derive all our intelligence, capacities, and true accomplishment from God.
This Science of our being is something we can learn not only to accept but feel. For instance, there’s no self-importance when we truly feel our debt to God for all that we have and are—and know that everyone is equally God’s able image. There’s no self-will when we gladly let divine Mind direct us and unfold what is right for all concerned. Self-centeredness gives place to unselfed benevolence toward others, as we feel our oneness with divine Love and seek to help others through our growing spiritual love and understanding.
Knowing and feeling that we can of our own selves do nothing removes the fear and agitation that pride often imposes. We feel the reassurance of ever-present divine Love, who enables us to do all that Love has for us to do. We know that the outcome of what we’re being led to do is in Love’s hands.
Progress in becoming more humble gets the material sense of ourselves increasingly out of the way, along with its hardness and opaqueness to spiritual light. So we become a clearer transparency for the love of divine Love, the understanding of divine Mind, the healing power of Truth. We more effortlessly reflect divine wisdom. We’re better able to comfort and heal others.
Mrs. Eddy says of humility: “This virtue triumphs over the flesh; it is the genius of Christian Science. One can never go up, until one has gone down in his own esteem. Humility is lens and prism to the understanding of Mind-healing; it must be had to understand our textbook; it is indispensable to personal growth, and points out the chart of its divine Principle and rule of practice” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 356).
There is so much more we all must do in this direction. But if we work at it patiently and sincerely, divine Love will lead us forward, and even small steps of progress bring a wonderful peace. This hymn can be an inspired prayer for us:
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
. . . . . . .
Take my every thought, to use
In the way that Thou shalt choose.
Take my love; O Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
I am Thine, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
(Frances R. Havergal, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 324, adapt., © CSBD)
David C. Kennedy
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