Friday, May 8, 2015

Divine Humble-Mindedness

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Abba Anthony, the earliest of the Desert Fathers, said, “I have seen all the snares of the devil spread out on earth and I said with a sigh, ‘Who can pass these by?’ and I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humble-mindedness.’”

Jesus said, “Come to me. Take my yoke. Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” It is no sign of weakness that Jesus is gentle. True gentleness does not come from weakness but from strength. Jesus, the Messiah King and Son of God, is the Almighty. Yet he is gentle and gracious toward the weak (which includes all of us).

He is gentle because he is “humble in heart.” Or “humble-minded,” as St. Anthony of the Desert might say. People often misunderstand the nature of humility, but C. S. Lewis nails it squarely on the head: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Humble mindedness is not about disparaging ourselves, it is thinking more about others than ourselves. It does not take anything away from our identity or worth but it recognizes the divine identity and worth in others, for we are all created in the image of God and we are all people Christ came to redeem.

Love is humble minded. It does not think about itself but about others. God is humble minded, for God is love. Within the Trinity, the Father does not think about himself but about the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son does not think about himself but about the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not think about himself but about the Father and the Son. The Three are all about each other, all about love.

This is the humble-mindedness the Lord Jesus demonstrated when he became human and made his dwelling among us. He did not come to be served but, rather, to serve and to give his life for others. He came to lay down his life for us.

This same sort of humble-mindedness is what he would have us learn. It is the antidote for the weary and burdened way of the world. It is an easy yoke because it is one that Jesus bears with us, and he has already done the “heavy lifting.” We are secure in him, so there is no need to control or manipulate others. His strength becomes our strength, so we can learn to be gentle. As we follow him, he shows us the path of the humble heart. And it leads to rest for our souls.

(See also Divine Humility, Divine Greatness)