Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Fruit of the Spirit – Day 14

Humility verses fear

Bible text(s)

14“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. 16In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16GNBOpen in Bible reader

Humility has been an underlying theme all week. Many people here in South Africa and across the world still remember and talk about our late president, Nelson Mandela. Many words are used to describe him, but humility is one that crops up often.

There’s an internet urban legend that claims Mandela quoted the poem “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson in his inaugural address. Whether or not this is true, at least part of it bears repeating, because it suggests that false humility hurts us just as much as false pride. The poem goes:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

We tend to think of humility as self-effacement, self-depreciation, as never blowing our own horn, as always first waiting to be asked before we step forward to offer our gifts. We identify humility with non-assertiveness.

Our gifts and talents are meant to help others, just as their gifts are meant to help us. To hide our light under a bowl serves no one – not others, not ourselves and certainly not God. That is precisely what Jesus is saying in today’s verse.

Followers of Jesus are “the light of the world!” We were not created in Christ to mumble the message under our breath. Jesus did not go to the cross so we could conceal our transformed lives. Jesus did not burst from the grave so we could live underground. Do not worry about getting puffed up. When you truly reflect the glory of God, no one will mistake it as coming from you.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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