“There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.”St Augustine
Ever had that moment that breaks down the walls of pride, uncovering the vulnerable interior of your heart? If so, how did the demolition feel? Was it tough to swallow? Did it lift heavy weights from your heart?
C.S. Lewis once said that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Seems a bit of reverse psychology but makes 100 % sense. Humility is being confident in who you are and at the same time thinking of others. How can I place others before myself using the gifts and talents that I’ve been given?
In Matthew chapter 15, a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus asking him to cast out the demon in her daughter. Jesus appears to be a little annoyed. When she asks for help, he tells her, “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs (Matthew 15:26).” She responds in great humility saying, “please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters (Matthew 15:27).”
I was in a class a few months ago, and our instructor read this passage of the Canaanite woman in Matthew chapter 15. He had us reflect on this passage in the context of humility. As I reflected, I recognized the humility of the woman and also some sense of rejection by Jesus.
As we discussed the passage as a group, our instructor drew our attention to an act of humility in Jesus. At first Jesus seems to be pretty stern with her as he tells her he isn’t there to help her and refers to her as a dog, which was a common view of the Jewish people towards the Canaanites. As we continue to read, we see Jesus’ demeanor towards her changes. Her faith humbles Jesus. And he responds with compassion, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Matthew 15:28)
Reflecting on the Canaanite’s witness of humility through faith and Jesus’ witness of humility and compassion draws a great deal of attention to my own life and where I’ve let pride run the course in my journey.
Pride is the one sin in my life I’ve come to realize is the greatest danger. I’m the oldest of three. I’ve always worked hard to achieve success. Due to life circumstances, I’ve had to be very independent. I would say all three are crashing waves on humility. So the wall of pride constructed itself over the course of my life.
God always brings hope and goodness in aligning ourselves to our true north, the center of our existence, the core of His presence within us. As I’ve grown deeper in my own personal relationship, I see God placing people and circumstance in my life to teach me humility. In tearing these walls of pride down, I’m growing deeper in my friendship with Christ through a greater act of surrender.
One of my greatest lessons was learning to let go of my way and embrace a new way of parenting my pre-teen and teenager better. I’ve discovered the openness to listening and learning a different way is a tool in destroying the walls of pride.
Admitting when I’m wrong, letting go and acceptance are also tools God is teaching me to use to tear down the wall of pride.
I’ve recently found my self so certain that God had placed me on a path. But then I began to see debris on the path. Obstacles were tossed along the way. Headstrong to continue along the path, I tried to lift the obstacles from the path doing all that I could, and through the struggle forgot the One that placed me on the path.
Have you ever been along this path in your own life?
When that path becomes too cluttered with stuff in the way, it’s a great act of humility to drop to your knees in prayer, speak less and listen more to where God is truly leading you. His direction and timing may be slightly different. Being humble to surrender can lift a truck load of debris from your heart as the wall of pride is demolished.
This is exactly what happened to me. As I embraced prayer more deeply, I realized that God was actually calling me on another path. It took my willingness to submit to hearing him in prayer that I needed to take a turn instead of removing the rubble in my way. When I realized that I wasn’t suppose to continue on the path I was on but turn, my shoulders released an immense load and peace overwhelmed me. I also felt very strongly that at some point God would help me remove the obstacles out of my path but it wasn’t now. It’s a path I’ll travel on later in my journey.
In our spiritual lives, it requires us to be humble in order to hear and follow God’s way.
In today’s second reading from James 1:21, we read that we should “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in [us] and is able to save [our] souls.”
It is this centering on the Word of God, on the life and example of Christ that is planted within us ready to sprout through total surrender, tearing down the wall of pride and developing a self awareness when it begins to reconstruct. We are called to this humillity to serve and love one another by thinking of ourselves less and others more.
The invitation today may be to reflect on the areas in our lives where pride has prevented us from hearing God’s call in our lives to serve others.
Lord, today I ask You to send the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with more of You and less of me. To see the areas where pride has prevented me from surrendering to Your will and utilizing the gifts and talents You’ve given me to help others with no expectations of benefitting myself. May You guide me in all Your ways through an act of humility and love. Amen