Beginning the Spiritual Life: Humility, part 1

It’s no coincidence that the greatest sermon ever preached–the Sermon on the Mount–began with the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Humility is the foundation of all Christian growth. Augustine said that the three keys to progress in the kingdom of God are humility, humility and humility. The poor in spirit are those people who recognize that they need a radical dependence on the grace of God in order to live a life that honors God and treats others like they themselves would like to be treated. Humility is acknowledging that without God we are spiritually and morally bankrupt and apart from Christ we can do nothing in our quest to love God and fulfill the Golden Rule (John 15:5).

Humility is not groveling; it’s simply an objective evaluation of our situation with God and people. It’s the unvarnished truth. It’s the starting point of all spiritual, moral, emotional and psychological progress. Humility simply admits that we cannot accomplish asupernatural end (e.g., living a life that is pleasing to God) without a supernatural means(e.g., the grace of God)

Humility was and is the starting point for two effective programs that help the chemically dependent. It’s no coincidence that the first two steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are admitting “we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable” ; and coming “to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” These steps read like Beatitudes for the substance abuser.

Teen Challenge is a  drug and alcohol recovery program that began in 1958 and places dependence on Christ at the center of the addict’s life. It has an unsurpassed 86% success rate for those people who graduate from their program and is significantly more effective than approaches that are not faith–based. The addict comes to Christ in humility and contrition, and, like David in Psalm 40, God lifts him out of the mud and the mire and puts a new song in his mouth.

About the Author: Jonathan Coe is a graduate of Bethel University and Bethel Theological Seminary.  He has served in pastoral and campus ministry and now lives in Colville, Washington working as a writer in the area of Christian spirituality. In 2004 Jonathan was received into the Roman Catholic Church and writes for an audience across denominational lines. Later in 2013,  he will be coming out with a book with Tate Publishing presently titled Letters from Fawn Creek: Wisdom for the Journey to the Gold Rush. You can find him on the web at