“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
Martin Luther said, “True humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud of the contemplation of so fine a virtue.” It is hard to imagine that a man of humility would not know he is humble, but so it is. A man of genuine humility is always a grateful soul, full of gratitude for absolutely everything in his life. He acknowledges that everything, literally everything, is only his because God gave it. He takes nothing for granted but expresses by his thoughts or words thanksgiving for every breath, bite, or consolation in his life. It is never too overdone to live in a constant spirit of thankfulness to the God of your life, who graciously meets every genuine need. Many things are often taken for granted in this life as an expected rightful possession of every person by virtue of just being a living, breathing body and soul. Such is not taken for granted by one who possesses the character of humility. Nothing to him is an innate right by the simple fact that he is. Even your body’s natural reaction of requisite breathing is a gift from the Creator of life. Giving thanks ought to be a corollary of breathing.
The man or woman who recognizes and accepts the poverty of their soul throws their very being upon the mercy of God. Their soul is so poor that it does not have the capability of mustering any means of deserving entrance into the kingdom of God. They live their life in poverty of soul, resting all their sustenance on the grace and mercy of God. As such, they give all gratitude to him for his mercies, which they consider more than abundant for all their needs. They need nothing more; what he provides is their perfect portion, and they recognize and accept it with thanksgiving.
Consequently, humility of spirit always shows itself in the gratitude of thoughts and words, first to the God who gives it, and second to the neighbor who may assist him in the distribution of his gifts. Every primary thought proceeds with thanksgiving before it enters into other considerations while maintaining the spirit of gratitude throughout, even when it extends to the praise, admonishment, encouragement, instruction, or love of a neighbor. Your conversation in thoughts and words should acknowledge your neighbor as better than yourself and therefore have no desire of praise for yourself (Philippians 2). Your sole praise is the personal knowledge that you have pleased God with your words, thoughts, and deeds. The praise of others towards you makes no impact on your assessment of your words and deeds; only the true approbation of God because you have pleased him with your obedience.
Humility is truly the hardest of all Christian virtues to attain, for it is the most Christ-like. Its pursuit begins with the recognition that you are proud, more proud than anyone else. It develops in your effort by the Spirit of God to slay your pride. It is always much more the constant effort to put your pride to death than it is the endeavor to be humble. There is no thought of becoming humble or even considering you are; you must continually realize that there is more pride in you to put to death. And so it will ever be.
Consequently, in nurturing a thankful spirit this Thanksgiving, recognize that it begins with crucifying your pride. Do not think of becoming a humble soul; rather think, “I have a haughty spirit to put to death. The humility in character will take care of itself when there is an active pursuit of putting your pride to the sword.
“In supplication meek to thee I bend the knee; O Christ, when thou shalt come, in love remember me, and in thy kingdom, by thy grace, grant me a humble servant’s place.”
(4th verse of Gregory of Nazianzus’ hymn, “O Light That Knew No Dawn”, 325-390)
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