Humility

Always be humble and gentle
(Ephesians 4:2; NLT).

The Bible tells us that God wants us to grow in humility. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who is now a Saint, saw the process of learning to become more humble as a set of specific, concrete measures we can practice every day.

Her advice is easy to understand, but much harder to follow. Over time, though, by embracing her approach and making it our own, we can gradually learn to respond to people and events with greater humility and acceptance.

I first posted her teachings as a series of daily quotations on Twitter and Facebook. When that project was complete, I decided to draw them together, and make them available here.

Each quotation is followed by an illustrative verse from the Bible, or few words of clarification. I hope very much that you will find Mother Theresa’s clear, practical advice as helpful as I do.


1. Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:
you must all be quick to listen [and] slow to speak
(James 1:19; NLT).

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2. Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs,
and to work with your own hands
(1 Thessalonians 4:10; RSV). 

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3. You should mind your own business
(1 Thessalonians 4:11; NIV).

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4. They have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things
(2 Timothy 4:3; NET).

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5. Be patient with each other,
making allowance for each other’s faults
because of your love
(Ephesians 4:2; NLT).

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6. Whoever learns from correction is wise
(Proverbs 15:5; NLT).

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7. How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck
from your brother’s eye
(Matthew 7:4-5; NIV).

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8. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
For you will be treated as you treat others.
The standard you use in judging
is the standard by which you will be judged
(Matthew 7:1-2; NLT).

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9. He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word
(Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

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1o. Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent
(Psalm 4:4; NLT).

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
yet he never said a word

(Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

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11. The wisdom from above is first of all pure.
It is also peace-loving,
gentle at all times,
and willing to yield to others
(James 3:17; NLT).

NB: This doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you. It means letting others choose, and gladly going along with their choice, rather than insisting on having your own way.

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12. He was despised and we did not care
(Isaiah 53:3; NLT).

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13. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way
(Isaiah 53:3; NLT).

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14. A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare

(Proverbs 15:1; NLT).

Speak the truth in love,
growing in every way more and more like Christ
(Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

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15. They brag loudly about themselves
(Jude 1:16; NLT).

Don’t do your good deeds publicly,
to be admired by others
(Matthew 6:1; NLT).

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16. Whoever wants to be first among you
must be the slave of all
(Mark 10:44; NET).

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17. Do not be wise in your own opinion
(Romans 12:16; NKJV).

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18. Even the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others,
and to give his life as a ransom for many
(Matthew 20:28; NLT).

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Reference

All the quotations used here can be found by doing a Google search for: “Mother Theresa humility list”. I am very grateful to Mother for putting her advice list together, and to all those who circulate various versions of it online.

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