Let humility bring you honour

The great American educator, Benjamin Franklin, was living in Philadelphia at 22 years of age after escaping an oppressive apprenticeship as a printer. He was trying to find himself.

One question burning in his heart at the time was setting priorities for his life. In answer, he developed 12 virtues- the values with which he governed his life. They were temperance, silence, order, justice, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility and chastity.

Franklin took his list of virtues to an old Quaker friend and asked his opinion. His friend read them and said: “Benjamin, you’ve forgotten the most important virtue.” Surprised, Franklin asked which one? His friend replied, “Humility.”

Franklin immediately added it to his list and he organised his life into repeating 13-week cycles, focusing on one of these virtues each week.

At 78, he began reflecting on his life and the qualities he had built it around. Though he felt pretty good about having achieved most of his goals, here is what he said about humility: “I cannot boast of much success in the reality of this virtue, but I have had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it.”

The Bible says: “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honour and life,” Proverbs 22:4. Humility is an interesting virtue; you are supposed to show it, but not know it. Nothing sets you so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.

If there is one thing in this world your ego will neither seek nor strive for, it is humility. Yet, true and lasting success depends on it. Try imagine Jesus kneeling with a towel and a basin of water to wash the dirt from your feet.

In those days of craggy streets, it was a common courtesy. When you visited someone’s home, they would wash your feet as a way of saying you are welcome, honourable one.

When the disciples protested, Jesus said to them: “I have given you an example to follow, do as I have done to you. That is the path of blessing,” John 13:15-17.

The champion, though strong, cultivates humility and thus attains greatness and continuing good fortune. It is the way of Heaven to diminish the full and enlarge the modest. It is the way of Earth to overthrow the full and replenish the modest.

God brings disaster on the full and blesses the modest. It is the way of man to hate the full and love the modest.

Humility, displayed in a position of honour, increases the radiance of that honour. Displayed in a lowly position, men will not seek to brush it aside. Therefore, the humble man encounters good fortune in all his undertakings.

Someone once asked the great conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, what the most difficult position in the orchestra was. He replied: “Second fiddle.”

Everybody wants to sit in the first chair, but in God’s kingdom, we are called to consider others first and ourselves second. When we do, God promises to honour us.

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God,” Deuteronomy 8:10. Never forget to thank God in whichever situation you are in. It is a mark of humility and gratitude.



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