True Humility

by Martin Luther

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in god my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)

A good deal of pride lurks behind the outward show of humility we see in the world today. People put themselves down but don’t want others to look down on them. They decline honors, but they really want more honors to follow them. They appear to avoid prominence, but they still want to be praised and don’t want to deal with unimportant matters.

Yet in this passage, Mary says little about herself except that she is a servant. She was content to remain in her lowly position the rest of her life. She never gave any thought to her own glory or honor. She wasn’t even aware of her own humility. Humility is so fragile and sensitive that it’s not capable of looking at itself. Only God can look at it, as we read in Psalm 113:5-9.

If we were able to look at our own humility, we would conclude that we deserve to be saved because we know that God saves humble people. That’s why God reserves the right to look at humility for himself. He hides it from us by making us look at unimportant things and by keeping us busy with them so that we forget to look at ourselves. That’s the reason we have to endure so much suffering, death, and all the other kinds of hardships here on earth. Pain and difficulties force us to get rid of envy within us.

By using the word humble, Mary shows us that she served God with the attitude of a despised, unimportant, lowly servant. She had no idea that her humility was so highly regarded by God.

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