Humility

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

This beatitude is not pronounced upon the poor in earthly condition; for one may be very poor and yet very proud, or one may be rich in worldly goods and yet be very lowly in spirit. Neither is it on the poor in mind; for mental poverty is not necessarily a state of blessedness, and ignorance is certainly not bliss, nor is it desirable. It is the poor in spirit, in disposition, on whom the beatitude is pronounced. That is, the lowly in heart, the humble, those who are conscious of unworthiness. Humility is not thinking meanly of one’s self, holding one’s gifts or abilities as of no account. We are under obligation to recognize our talents and make the fullest possible use of them. We are also to recognize our place and our privileges as God’s redeemed children, no longer condemned sinners and servile slaves.

What, then, is humility? It is a spirit that bows reverently before God, and then holds its divinest gifts as not too good nor too fine to be used in Christ’s name in the service of the lowliest of God’s creatures.

The Bible everywhere speaks its praises of humility. Christ refers only once in the gospel to His own heart, and then it is this picture that we see: “I am meek and lowly in heart.” To be poor in spirit is to be rich toward God, while pride of heart is spiritual poverty. Humility is the key that opens the gate of prayer, while to the loud knocking of pride there comes no answer. The proud Pharisee in his prayer found no blessing, but the lowly publican went away with heart and hand full of heaven’s divinest gifts. Pride is the cold mountain peak, sterile and bleak. Humility is the quiet vale, fertile and abounding in life, where peace dwells. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are lowly. They may wear no earthly crown, but a crown of glory, unseen by men, rests even here upon their heads.