Thursday, May 5, 2011

Developing Christlike Attributes: Humility

I remember being amazed as I was watching a football game. One of the teams had an incredibly talented tail back. He was very quick and agile. He would be carrying the ball in the middle of the field, and just when you thought the defense had him wrapped up, he'd slip through their grasp and scamper for thirty more yards.

The elusiveness of the tailback closely relates to the Christlike attribute of humility. Humility displays the same type of traits that the tailback did in the fact of just when we think we are humble, we learn that we are not. This tricky trait allows us to rely on God without realizing that we are relying on him. Elder Marlin K Jensen of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints said, "Consciously trying to acquire humility is also problematic. I remember once hearing one of my colleagues... say about humility that 'if you think you have it, you don’t.' He suggested we should try to develop humility and be sure we didn’t know when we got it, and then we would have it. But if we ever thought we
had it, we wouldn't"

This is one of the lessons C. S. Lewis teaches in his well-known Screwtape Letters. In letter XIV, a good man who is being recruited by a devil and his apprentice to their side is growing humble, and the devil remarks that “this is very bad.” With great insight, Lewis has the devil say to his associate, “Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact?"

It seems as though humility is always just out of our grasp. So, how do we develop this evasive trait? Christ helps us to understand when his disciples ask him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He responded by placing a little child in their midst and stating, “Whosoever … shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 18:1, 4)

In this passage the Savior teaches that to be humble is to become like a little child. The Book of Mormon teaches us what it means to become as a little child when it says, "For the natural man is an enemy to God... and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for his divine help. Humility is the ability to become as a little child and submit to will of our Father in Heaven just as children submit to the will of their parents.

Contrary to the world's view on humility, it is not a sign of weakness. Humility is a sign of spiritual strength. When you humbly trust the Lord and acknowledge His power and mercy, you can have the assurance that His commandments are for your good. You are able to be confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if your rely on Him.

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