Humility: The Mysterious Virtue

For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me (II Corinthians 12:6 NASB).
            The Apostle Paul was a man of humility.  This probably explains why God could have so mightily used him.  The commentator Matthew Henry believed that humility was the foundation for all of our other Christian virtues.   As important as it is, it is still somewhat enigmatic in nature.
            We know humility when we see it in a person, but it very difficult to define or label.  It seems to be manifested differently in different people.  How we receive it is also somewhat nebulous.  Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline says, “Humility, as we all know, is one of those virtues that is never gained by seeking it. The more we pursue it the more distant it becomes. To think we have it is sure evidence we don’t.” 
            During my time as a missionary I taught in Youth With A Mission (YWAM for short) discipleship training schools.  On one occasion a YWAM director phoned to invite me to teach a week at his center. He said to me, “I want you to do your series on humility.” I paused for a few seconds and then said, “I don’t have a series on humility.” He replied, “Yes, you do—the one where you talk about the chicken farm and all that stuff.” Call me slow or call me clueless, but I had never put the two
together.  I think there may have been a reason God kept me so clueless. Knowing my heart, if I had thought I had even a minuscule understanding of humility, I would probably have been tempted to be proud of my humility. 
      Humility must be something we do not seek or receive directly; it must be a
by-product of some other pursuit.   What pursuit?  Foster says, “More than any
other single way, the grace of humility is worked into our lives through the discipline
of service.”  Do you want to develop the grace of humility and also see your gifts and
callings released?  Find a church and make yourself available for service and see what
God does.  Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “Learn this lesson that, if you are to do 
the work of a prophet, what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.”

Adapted from “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing


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