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What Humility Isn't

Let's Put Our Finger on the Virtue Most Pleasing to God

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By Bryan Thatcher, MD (Jul 2, 2010)
It seems easier to define humility by what it isn't rather than by what it is. We know that in today's world of consumerism and materialism, humility is often viewed as a sign of weakness. Being meek and humble of heart is not a weakness! Scripture tells us "...whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mt 23:12). But do we really believe it, and even more importantly, do we practice it?

Pride, the vice involved and the opposite of humility, is the weakness! In spite of material wealth, it is the proud person who is spiritually bankrupt. Our Lord told St. Faustina, "The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls" (Diary, 1602). In our society, we are taught to be proud of many things: for example, our home, our children, and our work. It is certainly right to be thankful to God for graces bestowed. However, as time goes on, many carry things to the extreme, believing that good things are a result of superiority and talent and of our own doing. After all, what do we have that is not a gift from God? As all good comes from Him — life itself, natural talents, opportunities, the help of others — the only thing we can really offer back to Him are His own blessings and graces.

In today's society, winning is everything, no matter what the cost. The message conveyed is that "the one with the most toys wins." Yet, in God's eyes, it is the simple and humble soul that is most pleasing to Him. For that soul does things out of love for Him, recognizing that loving Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole body is what is most important. Father Sopocko, St. Faustina's spiritual director, told her, "Without humility, we cannot be pleasing to God. Practice the third degree of humility; that is, not only must one refrain from explaining and defending oneself when reproached with something, but one should rejoice at the humiliation" (Diary, 270).

How do we replace pride with humility? One way is to strive to be a servant of others, and look for small occasions daily to help others. Make an effort to see the beauty and presence of God in others. Battle against the notions that you "deserve" the closest parking place, that you "deserve" to be seated quickly at a restaurant with a waiting list, and that you can arrive at a dinner gathering whenever you get there. "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble' " (1Pet 5:5). Another helpful exercise is a daily inventory of our relationship with God. When reflecting back on the day, did our daily actions give honor and glory to God?

The humble person also avoids being judgmental, as he knows he is a sinner and everything good comes from God. Saint Faustina wrote, "I must never judge anyone, but look at others with leniency and at myself with severity. I must refer everything to God" (Diary, 253). How easy it is for us to always criticize and condemn others; how easily we overlook our own glaring faults.

The humble person is in the world but not part of it; he has detachment from worldly things and recognizes that the lasting pearl is the kingdom of God. Our Lord spoke on this to St. Faustina and said, "Today, penetrate into the spirit of My poverty and arrange everything in such a way that the most destitute will have no reason to envy you. I find pleasure, not in large buildings and magnificent structures, but in a pure and humble heart" (Diary, 532). "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jas 4:6).

We are called to do all things with a humble and contrite heart. Saint John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30). As we become more aware of our failings and shortcomings, we need only pray, "Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed" (Mt 8:8).

Dr. Bryan Thatcher is the founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

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Bea - May 22, 2007

Thank you for the lessons.

donna.e. - May 22, 2007

the lord just spoke to me through this message, wow. i just had an arguement with my best and dearest friend trying to tell each other who's at fault and who's not add nauseam. when im proud and awful i write it off too easily yet i hold others responsible to a t. i am hard on others and easy on myself, i dont know how to stop and i ask the lord for strength, i get it sometimes and overall in the end he makes it clear and gives me clarity and i see my terrible ways. how can i think im so cool and great and humble when im mean and proud and selfish?

andy - May 22, 2007

that was awesome, may we always look to plant the seeds , realizing even they come from God. thank you for your story. also try this , just do random acts off kindness. it brings joy to both parties heart.

abdellah - Jun 14, 2007

please pray with me. I have just read this article and was touched by the Spirit of God who was talking to me through it. I still need to make a decision about a problem in the light of what I learnt about humility. The problem was that a colleague of mine at the university was drunk and harrassing students in different ways. I complained about it to the dean. Now the administration is thinking about stopping the colleague being the head of the department we are teaching in. Was my complaint right ... was it based on a humble attitude ...

joi - Aug 11, 2007

thanks for the enlightenment i really need it, all the time what i deed was wrong, its only now that i came to realize the real essence of humility. i thank and praise the Almighty God for the spiritual message.

Susie B Australia. - Jul 3, 2010

Definitely going to photo copy this article,will read it over again and again,Excellent reading for all,thank you.

Agnes B N (EADM-Uganda) - Jul 5, 2010

Very good write-up to reflect on our weakness(Pride). Am going to print it out for the group. I pray that God gives the grace to reflect or do my meditation as the day ends to see all that I've done during the day are good in the eyes of God. God Bless. Thank you for the posting. For giving us the food of our soul.

Peter James - Jul 8, 2010

More articles like this please! Teach me mercy and grace.

sally - Jul 20, 2010

great article...thank you for reminding me that all that I have is from the goodness and mercy of our Lord. That humbled me and I realized that I must then share and return these blessings to those in need, those suffering. And feeling grateful to the Lord, I want to be kind to every person I meet.Thanks again!

dominic - Aug 16, 2010

May God forgive me for the times I have behaved in a proud and self-centred manner. I am truly and humbly sorry and will try and behave better in the future, God willing.

Carla - Oct 2, 2010

What a wake up call! For quite awhile now I have realized it is not important what we have (possesions ETC) The one who has the most toys does not win, BUT the one who has a contrite heart and serves the Lord is filled with Graces. We all need to pray for one another and help those in need. I would rather be poor and not have anything, But I will not compromise my soul in anyway that is not pleasing to our Savior. My saying is "you can't drag a u-haul behind your Hearse" we can although gather all the necessary Graces to see our Lord and be welcomed into his Kingdom at the end of time. I pray for everyone good and bad to see this and to see what is important.OUR SALVATION.

Carla - Oct 2, 2010

What a wake up call! For quite awhile now I have realized it is not important what we have (possesions ETC) The one who has the most toys does not win, BUT the one who has a contrite heart and serves the Lord is filled with Graces. We all need to pray for one another and help those in need. I would rather be poor and not have anything, But I will not compromise my soul in anyway that is not pleasing to our Savior. My saying is "you can't drag a u-haul behind your Hearse" we can although gather all the necessary Graces to see our Lord and be welcomed into his Kingdom at the end of time. I pray for everyone good and bad to see this and to see what is important.OUR SALVATION.

alyce - Oct 12, 2010

Praise Jesus - i was meant to find this article it is a truly a gift from God - i have been asking for the grace of humilty and to love with a pure heart - please pray that i can be released from the chains of being judgemental, pride, revenge,sulkiness, sensitive and lacking in true love joy. God Bless