"Humble" is one of those words whose meaning is hard to get one's mind around. It's sister word, "meek," is also illusive. Sometimes words like "false modesty" or "doormat" try to masquerade as "humble" and "meek," but one can always sense a bit of deception. Today's passage helps me to understand this word "humble" better than any other.
"God humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that the LORD might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."Deuteronomy 8:3
Humility does not allow separateness but has to do with relationship. It is a realization of dependence or, at least, interdependence. Humility realizes its deep need for "the other." It also seems to realize this need goes beyond its own understanding. There is mystery involved in humility. Humility seems to say, "I can't live without you because you give me something I can't create for myself. What I receive from you I don't and can't even comprehend."
This dependence does not exclude creativity, though. The humble are still able to build, create, tend, mine, and live fruitful lives. At the heart of humility, though, there is a gratitude and awareness that all the activities, resources and talents are grace filled gifts from someone other than the self.
There is a humility I have in my relationship with my husband. Though I lived as a single person for longer than most of my generation, I am very aware that he provides something for me which I cannot provide for myself. There is a mysterious safety and "at ease-ness" that I have when he is home and putsing around. I depend upon him. He fills in many of the gaps in my life.
This humility extends to my friends and colleagues. And as we begin to understand humility, we recognize the inter-connectedness we all have with one another.
A trip to the grocery store becomes an exercise in humility. Just think, how many people were involved in the filling of my grocery cart. From the ones who planted the seeds, tended the orchards, raised and milked the cow, raised and butchered the meat, grew the grains, climbed mountains so I could have coffee beans...the list goes on and on.
At the root of all humility is our Creator, the LORD our God. It is important to not forget, to remember, that all good gifts around us are sent mysteriously to us from God.
We cannot comprehend what makes a seed grow. We can observe the growth. We can plant and water and put the seed in a warm spot, but we cannot create the seed, the dirt, the water or the sunlight, much less initiate growth in the seed.
Being humble sits one down in the seat of gratitude which is the seed of worship. The mysterious providence of God truly demands our grateful response.
"You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is the LORD who is giving you power to make wealth..."Deuteronomy 8: 18
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."Matthew 5:5