Humility is Truth

Humility has gained a negative sense: a quick glance through some synonyms includes abasement, bashfulness, diffidence, docility, lowliness, meekness for starters. Not very exciting. Antonyms listed include confidence, boldness and assertiveness. Embracing only the negative idea of humility leads to the doormat syndrome; “go ahead, walk all over me!” All in all, advising humility as a virtue is a tough sell when there is lots of “don’t let anyone tell you what to do” or “be loud and proud” floating around.

Humility is seeing oneself through God’s eyes, as a created being made “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27). Humans are created to do great things, being designed to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). In fact, the Psalm 8 tells us that we are “made a little lower than God (elohim)”. However, we are human, not God, so humility acknowledges that we have distinct limitations. Humility is first an attitude toward God, then toward other people. It might feel odd, but it turns out that our fullest potential as humans begins with the smallest act of humility; simple openness and obedience to God’s nudges.

In the end, humility is simply the truth about yourself. With more knowledge comes greater awareness of both your potential and your limitations. From this a great spigot of human creativity and ingenuity is opened.

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I am a retired family physician from rural Iowa and have an MA in Theology from Franciscan University at Stubenville, OH. While my native language is evangelical Protestant, I am fluent in traditional Catholic as well.

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