The Loftiness of Humility
1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…

This is St. Peter's command. Are we really inclined to obey it? For, if we are, there is nothing more easy. Whosoever wishes to get rid of pride may do so. Whosoever wishes to be humble need not go far to humble himself. But how? Simply by being honest with himself, and looking at himself as he is. The world and human nature look up to the proud successful man, One is apt to say, "Happy is the man who has plenty to be proud of. Happy is the man who can divide the spoil of this world with the successful of this world. Happy is the man who can look down on his fellow men, and stand over them, and manage them, and make use of them, and get his profit out of them." But that is a mistake. That is the high-mindedness which goes before a fail, which comes not from above, but is always earthly, often sensual, and sometimes devilish. The true and safe high-mindedness, which comes from above, is none other than humility. Better to think of those who are nobler than ourselves, even though by so doing we are ashamed of ourselves all day long. What loftier thoughts can man have? What higher and purer air can a man's soul breathe? The truly high-minded man is not the proud man, who tries to get a little pitiful satisfaction from finding his brother men, as he chooses to fancy, a little weaker, a little more ignorant, a little more foolish, than his own weak, ignorant, foolish, and perhaps ridiculous, self. Not he; but the man who is always looking upwards to goodness, to good men, and to the all-good God; filling his soul with the sight of an excellence to which he thinks he can never attain; and saying, with David, "All my delight is in the saints that dwell in the earth, and in those who excel in virtue." And why does God resist and set Himself against the proud? To turn him out of his evil way, of course, if by any means he may be converted and live. And how does God give grace to the humble? Listen to Plutarch, a heathen; a good and a wise man, though; and one who was not far from the kingdom of God, or he would not have written such words as these: "It is our duty," he says, "to turn our minds to the best of everything; so as not merely to enjoy what we read, but to be improved by it." And we shall do that by reading the histories of good and great men, which will, in our minds, produce an emulation and eagerness which may stir us up to imitation. We may be pleased with the work of a man's hands, and yet set little store by the workman. Perfumes and fine colours we may like well enough: bat that will not make us wish to be perfumers, or painters: but goodness, which is the work, not of a man's hands, but of his soul, makes us not only admire what is done, but long to do the like. "And therefore," he says, "he thought it good to write the lives of famous and good men, and to set their examples before his countrymen. And having begun to do this," he says in another place, "for the sake of others, he found himself going on, and liking his labour, for his own sake; for the virtues of those great men served him as a looking glass, in which he might see how, more or less, to order and adorn his own life." "Indeed, it could be compared," he says, "to nothing less than living with the great souls who were dead and gone, and choosing out of their actions all that was noblest and worthiest to know. What greater pleasure could there be than that," he asks, "or what better means to improve his soul? By filling his mind with pictures of the best and worthiest characters, he was able to free himself from any low, malicious, mean thoughts, which he might catch from bad company. If he was forced at times to mix with base men, he could wash out the stains of their bad thoughts and words, by training himself in a calm and happy temper to view those noble examples." So says the wise heathen. Was not he happier, wiser, better, a thousand times, thus keeping himself humble by looking upwards, than if he had been feeding his petty pride by looking down, and saying, "God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are"? If you wish, then, to be truly high-minded, by being truly humble, read of, and think of, better men, wiser men, braver men, more useful men than you are. Above all, if you be Christians, think of Christ Himself.

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

The Garment of Humility
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