Lewis: The Humble Person

Do we really understand what is meant by the word “humility”? There is a popular misconception about that word that C. S. Lewis identifies well in Mere Christianity. He also paints an alluring portrait of how true humility appears:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

Humility simply means having a realistic view of oneself and a love for God and others that transcends one’s own interests. It can’t be manufactured, and as Lewis correctly notes, a genuinely humble person doesn’t have to strain to create humility. Yes, we should meditate on the true nature of humility and seek to develop it, but when it is fully realized, it will be far more natural than created.