I noticed that author Jane Knuth (Thrift Store Saints) asked a question about humility yesterday on the People for Others blog. In particular, she mentions the following quote from St. Vincent de Paul and then asks readers to share their understanding of the quote.
The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.
Here’s my take on it.
Humility is basically coming to accept the fact that God is God and we are not. It is an acceptance of our own limitations and the acknowledgment that all we have comes from God as a gift. The devil is not capable of this disposition because he seeks equality with God. Humility shifts attention away from ourselves and onto others and God. The devil seeks to draw attention to himself.
In terms of applying this wisdom to our lives, practicing humility is like creating a force-field around ourselves that the devil cannot penetrate since humility seeks to draw attention to God’s greatness and not our own. When our lives humbly deflect attention and instead reflect God’s greatness, the devil is blinded by that reflection.
Finally, I can never resist making a comparison to sports. If I do not know how to employ a certain move on the field, the court, or the ice, I will personally be unable to effectively defend against such a move when my competitor employs it. It’s like a boxer being unable to defend a punch that he never sees coming because he himself does not know how to disguise his punches. Practicing humility is like throwing a punch that the devil cannot see coming because he doesn’t know how to throw that particular punch himself.
I’m keenly interested in this discussion about humility because I devote an entire chapter to the topic in the first chapter of my new book, 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness which is now available. I humbly invite you to take a look.
Thanks, Jane, for initiating this conversation about a much-needed virtue in our times.