Some may think that we become humble by simply being submissive and docile. This is not the divine character or purpose of humility. As one of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the August 17-23, 2020 Come, Follow Me lesson explains, “I can be sanctified as I yield my heart to God.”
Christ-like humility actually helps us increase in strength and faith. Mormon described a time when some of the Nephites became prideful: “which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecution … Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ … to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts” (Helaman 3:34-35).
Sanctification is “the process of becoming free from sin, pure, clean, and holy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, ChurchofJesusChrist.org). This should be the aim of our frequent fasts and prayers.
The example of such humble Nephites should inspire us to ponder daily: What are we doing to receive sanctification by yielding our hearts to God?
Key Doctrines and Principles to Remember
For his sons Nephi and Lehi, Helaman outlined the following key truths for living humbly:
“Keep the commandments of God” (Helaman 5:6).
Remember the “good” works of “first parents” and “do that which is good” (Helaman 5:6-7).
“That ye may not do these things that ye may boast, but … that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason to suppose hath been given to our fathers” (Helaman 5:8).
“Remember … there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ … [who comes] to redeem [us] from [our] sins … because of repentance” (Helaman 5:9-11).
“It is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that we must build [our] foundation” (Helaman 5:12).
By keeping the commandments, remembering the examples of righteous ancestors, and repenting of our sins, we are striving to follow the perfect example of humility—even Jesus Christ.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve, explains: “This means that in all things we seek to do the will of the Father, just as the Savior did (John 8: 28-29). It means that we give all glory to the Father, just as the Savior did (John 17:4). It means that we lose ourselves in the service of others, just as the Savior did” (“Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2010).
Becoming as a Child
During Christ’s earthly ministry, one of the important lessons He taught about humility was, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).
Children are very open to learning new things. This example reminds us that we must be continually willing to learn and taught by the Lord.
When Nephi was commanded to build a ship to bring his family to the promised land, he did not hesitate to keep the commandments and learn new skills. He prayed for help to find ore to make tools, and he was prompted how to make a bellows and fire (1 Nephi 17:9-11). He overcame complaints and persecutions from Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 17:18-55). Concerning how he built the ship, Nephi explains: “I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men. And I Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:2-3). Nephi exemplified a powerful humility that with God’s guidance enabled him to accomplish whatever he was commanded to do.
One of the blessings I received by serving a full-time mission in Germany was that I learned the German word for humility: Demut. The root part of this word (Mut) means courage (Langenscheit’s German-English Dictionary , 65). I had never previously thought of courage as a key characteristic of humility. Now, maintaining courage as an integral part of humility is a concept that gives me hope that the Lord will guide me through any problems or challenges that I may face.
I pray daily for courage to “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Nephi 3:7). During COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, we may be prompted to make supportive ministering phone calls. We may not be able to attend the temple, but we can work on and share family history stories, research, and photographs. As a couple, we look for ways to strengthen and support each other. We pray that that we will courageously and lovingly do what the Lord wants us to do during these trying times.
In May 1829, the Lord revealed, “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love” (Doctrine and Covenants 12:8). As Elder Uchtdorf has explained, “When we see the world around us through the lens of the pure love of Christ, we begin to understand humility” (“Pride and the Priesthood”).