"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Top Ten Books on Piety, Sanctification, Spiritual Growth | Main | Images of the Savior (26 – His Feeding the Five Thousand) »

    "I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue 3

    Humility from the Perspective of Screwtape and Wormwood- C. S. Lewis

    Today's quotation is from a classic C. S. Lewis book entitled 'The Screwtape Letters'. For many of you this is perhaps a favorite book to read and re-read. For those who may be unfamiliar with the book, it is a book written from the perspective of Screwtape, a senior and seasoned devil, writing to his younger devil apprentice named Wormwood. The perspective of the book is from the "devils' point of view" and therefore the "patient" to whom he refers is the Christian and the "enemy" is God himself. Enjoy - -and be humbled by God's grace!


    "Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By Jove! I'm being humble,' and almost immediately pride- - pride at his own humility- - will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt- -and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don't try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.

    But there are other profitable ways of fixing his attention on the virtue of humility. By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy want to turn the man's attention away from self to Him, and to the man's neighbors. All the abjection and self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm; and they may even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the starting point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.

    You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of humility. Let him think of it, not as self-forgetfulness, but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they 'are' in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point.

    The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it, and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible." - C. S. Lewis, 'The Screwtape Letters' (many editions of this little book available).

    John 8:44b (NASB), Jesus says: "[The Devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks the lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."

    John 8:32 (NASB), Jesus says: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

    Posted by Charles Biggs on June 1, 2007 05:23 PM

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