Faith & Reflection
Humility is rare and needful; subtle and elusive.
A character trait that when claimed tends to disappear. There are some remarkable examples of humility, however.
Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915) was an Afro-American educator, author, orator, and politician. An affluent white lady, not recognizing Washington asked if he would like to earn extra money by splitting wood for her. Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, split the wood and carried it into the house. The lady later discovered who he was and apologized profusely. He told her it was alright and that he had enjoyed the physical exercise.
Another example is that of inventor Samuel Morse (1791 – 1872). When he was asked if he ever experienced doubt he said, “More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.”
Morse received countless accolades for the contributions to science and technology that he had made. He felt quite undeserving and stated humbly, “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.”
Possibly one of the most remarkable biblical examples of humility is found in the words of the apostle Paul. He tends to be considered the most dynamic apostle and one of the greatest evangelists of all times. Yet when he referred to himself he said, “I am the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9), “I am the very least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8) and “I am the foremost of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Jesus, always superlative in all areas provided the most profound example of humility. Philippians 2:5-8 states, “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Perhaps Hudson Taylor best capsulated both his own humility while simultaneously underscoring Christ’s pre-eminence. Being introduced to a large crowd Taylor’s work in China was wonderfully extolled in eloquent and glowing terms. He was then presented as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then began by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may honour you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.