To be read: February 4, June 4, October 5
The seventh step of humility is, when not only with his tongue does a man declare, but also in his inmost soul believes, that he is the lowest and most worthless of men, 52humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: “But I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people” (Ps 21:7). 53“I have been exalted, then humbled and confounded”(Ps 87:16). 54And also: “It is good for me that You have humbled me, that I may learn Your commandments”(Ps 118:71,73).
“The seventh step of humility is, when not only with his tongue does a man declare, but also in his inmost soul believes, that he is the lowest and most worthless of men…” This sounds harsh and demeaning, but in reality it is very freeing. Years ago, I was struggling to discern God’s will for myself and the parish. In frustration I cried out to God, “I am trying desperately to figure out what You want.” God clearly replied, “You will never figure it out, Bill, you are a bear of very little brains.” And more recently, I was preparing a sermon and the Lord showed me that I am the Forest Gump of clergymen. I’m not a smart man, but I have, by grace, been in the right place at the right time throughout my ministry, and God has been able to use me. It was incredibly freeing to realize that I am responsible for none of the Lord’s work. I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to figure anything out. I simply need to be obedient and to allow Him to rightly position me that He may do His work through me. I am, as Benedict says, “the lowest and most worthless of men,” yet God can use me for His greater glory.
It’s not that Benedict is declaring that God wants to demean or belittle us. Rather, when we recognize that we are dependent upon God and those in authority over us, then we are free. We are not responsible for the greater decisions, neither are we accountable for the outcome. In that is blessing. We only need to learn to trust the Lord and be obedient to Him and His delegated authority.