Source: Orthodox Way of Life
March 14, 2016
Jesus tells us,
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)
As we enter the Lenten Fast that is a gift of the Church to help us grow spiritually, it's good to reflect on this simple passage that Jesus spoke to His disciple when asked who is the greatest. But what does it mean to be humble and how does one humble oneself?
The Orthodox Study Bible defines humility as follows:
Humility, without which there is no virtue at all, is the acknowledgement of divine grace, and the constant denial of man's achievement.
This reminds us that whenever we are feeling like we have made an achievement by our own effort we have lost humility. We must acknowledge that divine grace is operating in all our actions. This means we must learn to live in constant prayer.
Worldly events move very quickly and we act instinctively most of the time. When things go the way we intended them, and we have the feeling of pride, we need to acknowledge the source of our achievement, His grace. Our pride should be in our willingness to follow God's grace in all our actions.
Of course this demands faith, a deep belief in God and that all that is good and beneficial only comes from Him, His grace working through us. Faith is always the foundation for a spiritual life. When it is weak we will easily succumb to ego-centered pride and will not have true humility.
This does not mean we do not work to develop our skills or to encourage our children to develop their talents. We just always remember that God gave us these talents and we are expected to develop them so we can do His will as we carry on with our daily life.
Let's examine ourselves during this Lenten period and observe how well we acknowledge the work of divine grace in our lives. Let's ask, how close to we come to living a life with continual prayer were God is in our mind at all times? How often do we acknowledge God's grace in our actions? What is our level of humility? What can we do to become more humble yet not neglect any of our duties nor fully use our talents?
One discipline to help us in this is the Jesus Prayer. It is a prayer of humility and one that when practiced like the Fathers instruct us will lead us to a mind where this prayer going continually no matter what we are doing.