On humility

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.  (James 4:6)

Every othodox christian knows that humility is one the chief virtues.  Without humility, no other virtue will be of benefit.  Quite on the contrary, virtue without humility is harmful to an ascetic.  Self-opinion and pride darken the reason and bring one to perdition.

However, it is very sad that for many humility is an unfamiliar term considered to mean a certain modesty, quiet character, and alas, at times even weakness.  Therefore, many attempt to fulfill the commandments of God, attempt to live according to the Holy Gospel without this blessed helper and soon experience the waning of strength, despondency, anxiety, sadness, despair of attaining the goal of christian life:  the kingdom of heaven and the eternal union with God.

In order to evaluate the meaning of the word humility properly, one must consider the fact that it stems from the greek word irine, which means peace.  It is quite possible that the word serenity, serene, is related to what we call humility.  Thus, we can understand that there is no humility in confusion.  The holy fathers say that where there is peace, there is God.  In one of the priest’s exclamations during the divine services God is referred to as the King of peace.  The holy apostle Paul teaches that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Consequently, humility is none other than the state of being in peace, in a peaceful and leveled state of the soul.  It is only in this state that the soul is filled with the light of God, with His grace, and it is only in this state that it actively experiences the communion with God.

Thus, humility is the firm foundation upon which the house of all the virtues is built.  Christian life is inconceivable without humility.

What are the impediments to the acquiring of humility?  Attachment to transitory world.  Here, for better clarity, we could juxtapose humility with worldliness, where in the first case, humility is union with God, and in the other, worldliness is the collection of all the passions.  Humility is love toward God.  Worldliness is love and lust toward the transitory world and all that belongs to it.  Therefore, pride, love of honor, vainglory, avarice, envy, lust and other passions are an impediment in the acquiring of humility and, with it, of the grace of God.

St. Seraphim of Sarov said that the goal of the christian life is the acquisition of the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Consequently, it can be said that the goal of the christian life is the acquisition of humility, of God`s peace in one`s soul.

Humility is the renunciation of the world.

Humility is the purity of heart.

Humility is the complete submission to the will of God.

Humility is the gratitude toward God for all things.

Humility is the pure prayer of the heart.

Humility is the foretaste of the kingdom of God already in this life.

Humility is the true union with God.