The “H” Word

Did you know that the shower is the holiest place in the house?! Most of the time when I am inspired, times when the Holy Spirit has revealed things to me, or answered prayer, I was in the shower. Think about it – you are standing naked before God, can’t hide anything, and you’re being showered with water; you’re pretty vulnerable at that moment.

Well, I had a shower moment a couple nights ago. Have you ever been so disappointed in yourself to the point where you don’t even feel that you should ask God for forgiveness? Saying to yourself, “What’s the point really, I don’t know if I even mean it.” So, I ended up venting to heaven while I showered. I felt a bit defeated and frustrated.

Pretty soon after, I was reminded of something – one is often humbled in doing penance. The attitude of penance can be externalized in acts that a believer imposes on himself or herself, acts that are themselves called penances. Easier acts of self-discipline include devoting time to prayer or reading of the Bible or other spiritual books. Examples of harder acts of self-discipline are fasting, continence, abstaining from alcohol or tobacco, or other privations. Serving others, giving your time and energy to benefit others – not yourself – is another example.

By sacrificing, you have the opportunity to get outside of your own selfishness – that is, if you are taking it serious. This sacrifice can lead to humility. Humility can lead to a real, conscious change of behavior – or, true repentance.

After that, I was downstairs relaxing a little and I felt like reading a little of one of Fr. Jack Ashcraft’s book The Real Exorcist. I opened up to Chapter 2 and the first sentence on the page made me say, Wow, what?! Here’s what it was, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32. This chapter focuses on Repentance!

I think the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something, don’t you think? Instead of being discouraged, I started to feel hopeful that God, in His mercy, was leading me to repentance. Scripture was coming to life in real time. Romans 2:4, ” Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?” So, thank goodness for the shower!

A Deeper Look into Humility

Tonight I’d like to talk to you about….Humility. Yes, that attitude we’re supposed to have as good little Christians. A lot of different things come to mind when this topic comes up: Feebleness, innocence, child-like, don’t be a jerk, forbearance, submission, weakness, inadequacy, being a doormat… Be honest now, how many of you immediately think that humility is a POSITIVE trait. Overall, in the end, yes, I think most people accept that being humble is a good thing.

Humble can be used to describe what is ranked low by others, as in “persons of humble origins.” People also use the word of themselves and things associated with themselves; if you describe yourself as “but a humble editor” or refer to your home as your “humble abode,” you are saying that neither you nor your home is very impressive.

Before I go any further, I want to take a minute and talk to you about another trait that has been popular amongst us sinners. It is the direct antonym of humility – PRIDE. This world indoctrinates us to be PRIDEFUL, doesn’t it?! The bad kind of prideful. I wonder why that is! I’ll tell you why – the book of John clearly tells us that Satan is the ruler of this world. There is a vicious battle raging for the hearts and minds of People. We are involved in it every day whether we know it or not. In this War, Satan embodies Pride; Christ embodies Humility.

There are different forms of pride, I grant you that. We won’t address them all. Scripture has a few examples of what I would refer to as good pride:

“Great is my confidence in you; great is my pride and boasting on your behalf.” 2 Cor 7:4

“Still, I am sending the brothers [on to you], so that our pride in you may not be an empty boast in this case, and so that you may be prepared, just as I told them you would be…” 2 Cor 9:3

“…for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence in the flesh …” Phil 3:3

“Therefore, we speak of you with pride among the churches of God for your steadfastness [your unflinching endurance, and patience] and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecution and [crushing] distress which you endure.” 2 Thes 1:4

form I am referring to though.

etc, etc, etc…..

Then there is the bad side of pride. The self-centered, all-about-me type of pride. Serving self before others. Advancing ones self no matter what it takes. The cut-throat world of today’s business. Today’s politics – become the person In-Power no matter who you have to use, step on, hurt… “In Satanism each individual is his or her own god—there is no room for any other god and that includes Satan, Lucifer, Cthulhu or whatever other name one might select or take from history or fiction.” Also, “Satan, to us, is a symbol of pride, liberty, and individualism.” – as quoted from the Church of Satan website. (I have to mention this… the Church of Satan bought Lucifer’s ultimate lie – that the devil doesn’t exist at all! They claim to be atheists. Their very name is an oxymoron by default.)

Not only is (bad) pride, itself, contrary to Christian behavior, and loving God, a certain amount of pride always precipitates sin. Selfish behavior leads us down the wrong road pretty much every time. St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) wrote, “‘Pride is the commencement of all sin’ because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact, only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, ‘Ye shall be as gods.'” Augustine is here quoting from Ecclesiasticus 10:12-13, “The beginning of pride is when one departs from God, and his heart is turned away from his Maker. For pride is the beginning of sin, and he that has it shall pour out abomination…”

Humility can mean submission, but it is not groveling

Back to what should be our main focus, humility. Humility and submission go hand in hand. Scripture tells us that, as Christians, we are to submit to one another in lowliness of mind. “Likewise, you younger men [of lesser rank and experience], be subject to your elders [seek their counsel]; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another [tie on the servant’s apron], for God is opposed to the proud [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time…” 1 Peter 5:5-6.

By being submissive and “clothing ourselves with humility” we can create peace and unity with the others. We are not to be so proud and high up that we can’t accept correction or exhortation. Neither should we be of the mindset that our own opinions and thoughts always are better than the others. Such thinking won’t lead us to repentance, progress, or unity in Christ.

At the same time, being submissive and humble does not mean in any way, shape or form that we are to bow down to other people. Paul was very clear when he said that we are to serve God and God alone. For, “you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23. He also writes: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.

While it is important to be submissive – to accept correction and remain lowly in our own eyes – as Christians, we are to consciously make a decision to seek to please God with our lives. We need to fear Him and keep His Word. This should be our focus: to humble ourselves under God’s will and live and breathe to keep His commands, not to try to meet human demands and expectations.

Humility does not mean that we are silent, or passive people

“Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4. God desires that Christians possess a gentle and quiet spirit. It is of the utmost importance that we are humble and still in our inner man. The outer man is our physical body while we are here on the earth. Our inner man is our everlasting spirit and soul. (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16; Matthew 10:28)

However, possessing a gentle and quiet spirit does not mean that we should be passive people. God also requires action and zeal in our lives. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is taken by force. (Matthew 11:12) All those who want a deeper life with Christ realize that they need to be zealous, as well as humble, in their inner man. Sin cannot be allowed to reign in the heart of a disciple! If we are humble in our inner man, having a desire to do God’s will, then we will do whatever it takes to keep our hearts and minds pure. Paul writes that we are not to be “…lagging in diligence [zeal],” but rather “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

Likewise, while we should always have a quiet and meek spirit before the Lord, there are some situations where God wants us to be bold and speak up before others. Here, we need to forsake our own honor, reputation and natural expectations, as always, and obey the Lord with all reverence. We should not question our own authority or ability to say or do something that God wants to be accomplished through us. Instead, we should allow God to use us exactly as He pleases in every situation.

Humility is the key to true repentance and progress in this life

“But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].’ So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.  Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]… Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].” James 4:6-8, 10. God works according to laws. It is a natural law that if we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, surrendering our own will and honor, then He will give us the grace that we need to live a Christian life in truth, as well as exalt us in His time.

To be humble is to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ. He existed in the form of God, but did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, or held onto. Instead, He took on the form of a servant, and came in the likeness of men. “And, being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8.

Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. He did not value His own self-importance or honor, but freely gave it up in every situation so that God’s will could be carried out and God could be glorified through His life.

If we are of this same humble mindset, forsaking our own reputation and honor in order to be obedient to God’s word and will, we will be able to make unbelievable progress in our Christian lives! In fact, God pays very close attention to our hearts and is ready and eager to strengthen those who desire to live unto His honor and glory. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’” Isaiah 66:1-2.

God desires that we be among such ones, those who have a humble mindset and a desire and need to do His will, who tremble at His word. We are not to be rich and satisfied in ourselves. That is pride and stops God from doing a transforming work in our lives. Rather, we are to be humble and lowly of heart. Then God will regard us and give us the grace we need to make true progress in our Christian lives.

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X authored a powerful and amazing prayer – petition – to our Lord. It is called the Litany of Humility. I challenge everyone to pray this with all your heart; mean every word of it and expect changes in your life

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
Fromthe fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s