“Pride is a deeply rooted ailment of the soul. The penalty is misery; the remedy lies in the sincere, lifelong cultivation of humility, which means true self-evaluation and a proper perspective toward past, present, and future” (Robert Gordis).
PRIDE, WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF HUMILITY, IS NOTHING LESS THAN WHAT ROBERT GORDIS SAID: “A DEEPLY ROOTED AILMENT OF THE SOUL.” It is a far more serious malady than most of us admit. In fact, pride may be the worst personal problem or character issue we have to deal with — and if it is, then humility would be the most positive of all concepts, the most enthusiastic of all ideas.
But what is humility? Of all the virtues, it is probably the one most often misunderstood and misrepresented. Gordis was on the right track here also when he said that humility means “true self-evaluation.” To be humble does not mean we pretend not to be aware of our own strengths. (Indeed, there is nothing more prideful than mock humility.) Humility is simply an honest assessment of ourselves, denying neither the positive side of the story nor the negative side, including the part about our weaknesses and our sins. And, of course, humility also requires a confession that whatever good thing is credited to us, we couldn’t have done it without lots of help. Humble folks don’t pretend to control their own destiny. They know the achievement of their goals always depends upon whether God allows it.
And this brings up another point. “Pride kills thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves” (Henry Ward Beecher). Humility and gratitude are inseparable. How can we see how indebted we are to God’s grace (not to mention the help of others) and not be thankful for that grace?
Finally, there is one other way that humility is related to gratitude: we ought to be grateful for anything that increases our humility. Those words are not difficult to write, but in real life they are exceedingly hard to accept, for the simple reason that pain and difficulty are usually the things that increase our humility. So do we really mean it when we pray for God to teach us humility? Will we give thanks for any tribulation that pokes holes in our pride? We surely should.
“Oh, for a pin that would puncture pretension!” (Isaac Asimov).