Humble Opinion of Self

publican_and_pharisee

As pride is the root of all sin, humility is the root of all virtue. Without humility, it is impossible to be pleasing to God. Let us, then, make it our chief spiritual exercise to practice the virtue of humility.

First, we must produce a definition, and that could be summed up thus: Humility is the virtue by which we know our proper place in creation. With this definition in place, it becomes clear why a lack of humility is so displeasing in the eyes of God. To think ourselves higher than the place designated by God is to directly insult His intelligence.

This lack of humility is frequently brought about by the acquisition of knowledge, which very often has the effect of puffing us up with pride. “All men naturally desire to know, but what does knowledge avail without the fear of God?” So asks Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ. “Indeed an humble husbandman that serves God is better than a proud philosopher, who, neglecting himself, considers the course of the heavens.”

The desire for knowledge is natural and good, but it must be contained within its proper boundaries. An excessive thirst for and love of knowledge is a sure sign of pride. Remember that, “They who are learned are desirous to appear, and to be called wise.” Is that all we desire–the empty praise of our fellow man? No. Let us instead obtain a knowledge of ourselves and our own sinfulness. This will win us the virtue of humility and the praise of God.

“To have no opinion of ourselves…is great wisdom and high perfection.”

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