“Should you ask me: What is
the first thing in religion? I should reply:
the first, second, and third thing therein is humility."
– Augustine, 4th-5th century
am amazed at how little humility is seen as the distinguishing feature
of discipleship." (Andrew Murray: 12)
of us think of humility as just another virtue -- much like patience,
goodness, or kindness. It's nice and we appreciate it when we see it, but
we rarely discuss it and almost never pursue it. Yet, the Bible seems
to indicate that humility may be the bedrock of discipleship.
humbled himself by becoming a man and submitting even to death. (Phil
2:5-8) He called His disciples to "deny yourself ... take up
your cross ... be last of all ... be slave of all." (Mk 8-10)
reminds us that "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the
humble." (Js 4:6)
an old biblical theme that generates little attention, especially in a
culture devoted to achievement, recognition, status, and significance.
But if pride is the root of our fallenness (1 Jn 2:16) then humility
paves the way to our restoration.
Murray goes so far as to say: "Humility is the only soil in which
virtue takes root; a lack of humility is the explanation of every
defect and failure. Humility is not so much a virtue along with the
others, but is the root of all." (Murray: 17)
fail not when love grows cold but when pride trumps humility. Churches
experience conflict not when unity is forgotten but when humility is
lost. We grow least content not when circumstances are tough but when
entitlement buries humility.
course, our definition of humility makes all the difference. It's not
about self-loathing or dejected defeat. Rather, "true humility
comes when before God we see ourselves as nothing, have put aside self,
and let God be all." (Murray: 55)
God be all. Sounds simple enough, but the striving and fruitlessness of
our lives suggests that we find it easier to let God be some.
of our day, as followers of Jesus, is not to rise to the top but
to live faithfully among the least, because of who He is. It'll change
everything; our homes, our families, our churches, and our workplaces.