Humility Reflects the True Nature of What We Are
Some people need to drink a “tall glass of reality”. Their narcissistic self love dilutes their sense of reality and enhances their false value in the world. Conquered by the vice of pride and guided by only material pursuits, they lose value of truth; the truth that without God we are nothing. When counseling against the vice of pride, one must turn to the virtue of humility.
Humility is an important virtue because it reflects truth. In the case of Christ, his humility reflected love. Christ’s humility never reflected any insignificance since he was perfect but instead showed us how someone so powerful and mighty should act in this world. His humility showed example and pure love. So much love, that he allowed himself to be taken and crucified. How much more are we asked to do? How more important is humility to fallen creatures who are truly imperfect? Our Lord, the perfect paradigm, teaches us that humility is a prerequsite for understanding our role in this world. With this, how foolish do some stars or vain individuals seem when they boast or brag of such meager accomplishments?
If humility helps us reflect truth, then we should all strive for it. We need to find it so we can find our true self and understand how truly helpless we are. As Lucifer imaged himself greater than he was, we must emulate Mary who found herself, although a queen, a mere handmaid. The important part is while Lucifer had delusions of grandeur, Mary understood, despite her great grace, that she nevertheless was a creature of God and anything given to her was a gift. In reward for this great humility and understanding of reality, she would, as the Book of Revelations relates, crush the head of the serpent.
How can Christian Counselors help people who are plagued with delusions of greatness? The first step is to open their eyes. People need to understand that they are fallen creatures who without grace and the death of Christ would be pawns of Satan. With the sin of Adam destroying their spiritual immune system, they would fall easily into sin and their own inherent distorted desires. Hence, all good flows from one source and that source is Christ. Second, people must realize it is through grace that one is capable of good action. Our fallen nature, while still retaining the image of God, nevertheless, is still weakened due to the sin of Adam. Even though the ransom has been paid, the scars of Adam have left their mark on our souls. In this temporal reality, we must strive and reach out to God for mercy and spiritual grace. It is through this cry for help that man realizes he is nothing without the grace of God.
St. Teresa of Avila speaks about this in great detail. She emphasizes that if one is praised for good, they should deflect the praise to the source of that good which is God. If someone does something good, one should respond to praise with a simple remark: “The grace of Our Lord disposed me to this good action and I am thankful for that”.
The devil despises humility and he will attempt to uproot it with all his might. He will give praise and exaltation for simply good works in hope of inflating one’s ego. This is why the saints detested praise or remarks of sanctity. It sincerely bothered them. They feared the traps of the evil one and also understood their good works and deeds were only at the mercy of God and his grace. They did not want any praise deflected from the savior to be tied to them. This was not a false humility but a true fear. Only after prayer and understanding did they realize it was the will of God that they share their talents and become physical examples and images for God’s greater glory.
In this way, any talent, or grace they possessed was acknowledged and not denied; however, it was acknowledged in such a way that it identifed the source and gave thanks to that source. We should strive in such ways as well because only through the uncracked mirror of humility can we see ourselves as we truly are.
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Mark Moran, MA