The virtue of humility (1)
When Benjamin Franklin was twenty-two he was living in Philadelphia after escaping an oppressive apprenticeship. He was, as they say, ‘trying to find himself’.
One question burned in his heart: ‘What are the greatest priorities of my life?’
In answer, he developed twelve ‘virtues’ – values that would govern his life. They were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, 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 one.’ Surprised, Franklin asked which one. The old man replied, ‘Humility.’ Franklin immediately added it to his list. He organized his life into repeating thirteen-week cycles, focusing on one of those virtues each week.
At seventy-eight years of age, he began reflecting on his life and the qualities he’d built it around. Though he felt pretty good about having achieved most of them, here’s what he said about humility: ‘I cannot boast of much success in acquiring 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 honor and life.’ Humility is an interesting virtue; you’re supposed to show it – but not know it!
Jonathan Edwards said, ‘Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.’ If there’s one thing in this world your ego will neither seek nor strive for, it’s humility. Yet true and lasting success depends on it.
‘Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.’ Proverbs 22:4 NIV (1984 Edition)