OUR OPINION: Humility pulls people into self-recognition

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

– from Colossians 3 (NRSV)

“One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection. When we say, ‘If people really knew me, they wouldn’t love me,’ we choose the road toward darkness. Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is pure gift …. ”

Henri J. M. Nouwen, “Bread for the Journey,” daily meditation


The holiday season as Americans generally celebrate often leaves people exhausted from activity, travel, emotion and stress, pushing aside or into a dim corner the meaning of messages on cards, the moving, recurring rituals of religious observance, and the warm ties family gatherings are meant to foster.

The message of Christmas is about a new idea of God’s presence and how it ultimately affects self-image, as the late Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote about in his book, “Bread for the Journey.”

Nouwen parallels the Apostle Paul’s insights about worthwhile living in his letter to Colossian Christians, included in the New Testament.

Rather than a passive acceptance, embracing Nouwen’s and Paul’s view is demandingly transformative for anyone seeking the better way.

Bring the message forward 2,000 years and its expansiveness becomes even clearer.

Forgive. Love.

Act with humility.

Bind everything together in perfect harmony.

The universal message engages every person in every age.

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    Excellent opinion piece. If people could just learn to apply it.