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Humility – not a word we ponder much. At least I don’t.
Maybe that is the problem, right? HA!
Then I read this story the other day that made me mull over the concept of humility in my life.
A man asked his rabbi why people couldn’t see the face of God. What had happened that they could no longer reach high enough to see God?
The rabbi, a very old man, had experienced a lot in his life and was very wise. “My son,” he said, “that is not the way it is at all. You cannot see the face of God because there are so few who can stoop that low. How sad this is, but it is the truth. Learn to bend, to bow, to kneel and stoop and you will be able to see God face-to-face.”
Ever notice when God stirs your heart on a matter, the key word pops up all over? He wasn’t done with me yet.
The day after I read that story I saw in the Thirty Good Minutes email a story about eight ways to practice humility. 30 Good Minutes is a collection of inspirational videos, stories of faith and reflections on spiritual topics from the TV show of the same name from WTTW 11 PBS, Chicago. You can read more about the show and sign up for their great newsletter by clicking here.
Karyn Kedar shared in her reflection about a Jewish mystic named Moshe Cordovoro (1522-70), who wrote there are eight ways to practice humility, each corresponding to a place on the body.
Now that got me curious so I searched for more information about Cordovoro’s eight ways. The quotes below are from his writing with a thought following them from me.
1. Head – Lower your gaze, a person who raises their head upward glorifies himself.
I know a Lutheran pastor who bows when he greets people as a sign of respect and humbleness. Maybe the Japanese have the right idea in how they bow.
2. Thoughts – “Meditate and contemplate on thoughts of goodness, godliness, kindness.”
Reminded me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson saying: “You become what you think about all day long.”
3. Forehead – A person’s forehead should display no harshness. Your face should reflect willingness, acceptance, pleasantry.
Those deep winkles in my forehead – are they from worry and fear or do they show the joy of the Lord beaming from my face?
4. Ears – Turn your attention to hearing good and positive things. Shut out falseness, evil gossip, judgment.
What am I listening for?
5. Eyes –Do not close your eyes to the suffering of the poor. Think as much as possible of their predicament. Look for the good.”
Pay more attention to the good side of people and seek to find those I usually ignore, lost on the fringes of life.
6. Nose – “Nary a breath of anger should ever be found in it. Rather it should contain the breath of life and good will and patience, even to those who are unworthy. Exhale forgiveness and pardon.”
Never, ever thought that my nose would be part of practicing humility. But the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. Breathing in His spirit deeply brings me peace and serves as a gentle reminder that it is not about me, but God. This also make me mindful not to be nosey and to mind my own business.
7. Face “A person’s face should shine and he should receive all people with a cheerful countenance. All who look at such a face will find joy.”
What a gift a smile is. Look deeply at others I come in contact with and smile.
8. Mouth – “Express good words of Torah. Do not speak ugliness, curses, anger, or frivolous talk. Speak well, expressing benevolence and blessing.”
Lord, may the words of my mouth be a blessing to others.
Interesting how the outside appearance mirrors the internal heart, isn’t it?
These eight ways to practice humility serve as a practical reminder. Being humble makes us teachable, opens us up to better listening and therefore being a better friend and spiritual companion to others. Most importantly when we realize who we are and who God really is, we can humbly worship Him and be open to His will.
I am certain God is not done with me yet on the issue of humility and I know as I let go of my ego, some tough issues lie ahead. But God is good and gentle and will slowly mold us in His image if we turn to Him and are willing to learn. And these eight ways to practice humility gave me a new perspective on this topic.
How do you practice humility in your life?