17 Oct 2010

Learning Humility and Thoughtfulness

Submitted by Stephen Winters

This morning, as my oatmeal mush was cooking in the microwave, went over to get a banana (that I usually cut up and put on top of my mush.) As I came to the counter I saw the bananas. Some were large and a nice clean yellow. Some were smaller and had some small dark spots on the skins. It's so much my nature that I want to take the biggest and best looking. But in recent years I've been trying to teach myself humility, to think of others, and to think of the future.

  This morning, as I stood looking at the bananas, I consiously chose one of the smaller slightly darkened bananas, peeled it, and began cutting it up to put on my mush. As I did this my mind began to wander back to the period of when the Israelites were required to make sacrifices. They were to give the firstborn and/or the best of the crops to the Lord. As I thought about this I began to understand that giving the best to the Lord might of been, among other things, a way to teach humility and thoughtfulness to the children of Israel. It is so much human nature to always want the best for onself. But it the best was to be given to the Lord, then (theoretically at least), it would sort of disarm that self-serving attitude. When we purposefully give the best to the Lord, or to someone else, then we can stop trying to get the best for ourselves.

  As an example, there are times in daily life when I want to get something to eat, there might be one apple left. I notice my impulse is often "I'd better get that so I'll have an apple." I recognize my response as being selfish. And, because I recognize that selfish attitude, I choose to act contrary to that impulse. So cut the apple into smaller pieces and I ask my son or daughter if they want some apple. Often they do. Here comes another choice. The apple pieces  are not all cut the same size. My eyes instantly pick out the largest pieces and my selfish nature tells me "give them the smaller pieces". Since I recognize my selfish thoughts, I purposefully give them the larger pieces and take the smaller ones for myself.

There is a lot of freedom in giving away the best and taking what is left. For one thing, it disarms that selfish tendancy and activates thoughtfulness.

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