As we observe Lent, Mike and I are reading "Lent and Easter: Wisdom by Saint Benedict" by Judith Sutera, OSB. I've said that before, but I wanted to give proper credit. On Day 27 from the Rule of St. Benedict we read:
The first degree of humility, then, is that one always have the fear of God before his/her eyes, shunning all forgetfulness, and be ever mindful of all that God has commanded, that one always consider in the mind how those who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and that life everlasting is prepared for those who fear God.
At the end of the devotion, the author asked how her readers viewed humility so I asked Mike what he thought. He answered that humble people know who they are and are comfortable with who and what they are.
I thought that was pretty interesting. What does knowing myself and being comfortable with myself have to do with humility? The key is in knowing who I am and what my place is in the world. As the author of the book noted, "The first realization (about humility) is that God is God and we are not."
Realizing this means that I do not try to take on God's role in my dealings with other people. I don't judge them, punish or take vengeance on them, or put myself above them by thinking that I'm better. At least, I try not to. I'm only human, after all. One of my favorite quotes is from John Wesley who, when he saw a drunk in the gutter, said, "If not for the grace of God, there go I." Benedict touches on this when he reminds us that "those who despise God will burn in hell for their sins." We are supposed to remind ourselves of that so that we don't fall into trouble or condemn those who are destined for hell. Unfortunately, I've heard many Christians gloat over the fact that someone with whom they disagree is going to hell. Well, with that attitude what makes them think that they are headed to heaven?
I say that not to judge but to remind us that "If not for the grace of God, there go I."
So, what is my place in the world? I am, as the Westminster Catechism says, to love God and to enjoy him forever. I am to dedicate myself to furthering God's kingdom and bringing as many along as I possibly can. I am to know myself and be comfortable with the person God has made, without accepting sinful behavior or thoughts. I am to ask God and others for help in my weaknesses.
That is humility. What do you think?