Obtaining Humility by Considering God’s Benefits

August 18, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 106
By St. Francis de Sales

But you desire, Philothea, to penetrate still deeper into humility; for what I have hitherto said, rather concerns wisdom than humility. Let us, then, pass on farther.

Many will not dare to consider the particular favours God has done them, lest it excite vainglory and self-complacency; but in so doing they deceive themselves.

For, since the best means to attain the love of God, says the great angelical doctor, is the consideration of his benefits, the more we know them, the more we shall love Him.

And, as the particular benefits He has conferred on us more powerfully move us than those that are common to others, so ought they to be more attentively considered.

Certainly nothing can so effectually humble us before God’s mercy as the multitude of his benefits; nor so humble us before his justice as the enormity of our innumerable offences.

Let us, then, consider what He has done for us, and what we have done against Him; and, as we reflect on our sins one by one, so let us consider his favours in the same order.

We must not fear that the knowledge of his gifts may puff us up as long as we are attentive to the truth, “that whatsoever there is of good in us, is not from ourselves.”

Alas! do mules cease to be stupid and dirty animals even when laden with the precious and perfumed goods of a prince?

“What hast thou which thou hast not received?” says the Apostle (1 Cor. iv. 7). “And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory?”

Nay, on the contrary, the lively consideration of favours received makes us humble, because a knowledge of them begets gratitude.

But if, in considering the favours that God has conferred on us, any thoughts of vanity should attack us, it will be an infallible remedy to recur to the consideration of our ingratitudes, imperfections, and miseries.

If we consider how we acted when God was not with us, we shall easily be convinced that what we do while He is with us is not of our own doing or growth; we shall, indeed, rejoice in it, because we enjoy it; but we shall glorify God, because He alone is the Author of it.

Thus the Blessed Virgin confesses that God did great things for her, but it is only to take occasion to humble herself and to glorify Him.

“My soul,” she says, “doth magnify the Lord, because He has done great things for me” (Luke, i. 46-49).

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