Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“You can find no shorter road to heaven than humility,” another Father said.

Another Saying on humility and a succinct one it is, too.  We need to remember that the Desert Christians believed they earned their way into heaven through their hard work of prayer and a lot of hard work not only to resist temptation but to become people who never experienced temptation.  Humility was key to this.

C. S. Lewis said “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” in Mere Christianity. John Stott is reported to have said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”

The ultimate example of humility is Jesus.  He humbled himself by taking on human flesh. He came to serve, not to be served. He washed feet.  He taught his disciples to be servants.  How do we follow his example?  St. Paul tells us to “put on the mind of Christ.”

To put on the mind of Christ, we will need to make a firm decision to ponder, understand, and adopt Jesus’ way of thinking; his values and attitudes must become ours. His strong emphasis on humility and meekness and his example of it must take hold of our thinking, our desires and our conduct. We must admire his humility and want it for ourselves. For this to happen, we need to  pray for the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, for it is impossible to do it in our own strength. We will also need to understand what Jesus meant when he called men and women to humble themselves. We discover that from the Greek word Jesus and the apostles used, tapeinos, which conveys the idea of having a right view of ourselves before God and others. If pride is an exalted sense of who we are in relation to God and others, humility is having a realistic sense of who we are before God and others. We must not think too highly (or too lowly) of ourselves. Rather, we must be honest and realistic about who and what we are. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3)

Fenelon said it well, “Humility is not a grace that can be acquired in a few months: it is the work of a lifetime.” And it is a grace that is precious in the sight of God, who in due course will exalt all who embrace it.

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