Abraham—A Man of Humility
Abraham sits in his tent, enjoying the shade it provides during the sweltering heat of the day. As he gazes toward the horizon, Abraham catches sight of three men who are visiting the area. * Without hesitation, he runs to meet the visitors, urging them to rest for a bit and enjoy his hospitality. He offers to give them “a piece of bread,” but then proceeds to arrange an elaborate meal consisting of freshly baked bread, butter, milk, and choice, tender meat. In serving this meal to his visitors, Abraham displays not only outstanding hospitality but also, as we will see, genuine humility.—Genesis 18:1-8.
WHAT IS HUMILITY? Humility is freedom from pride or arrogance. A humble person appreciates that everyone excels him in one way or another. (Philippians 2:3) He listens to the suggestions of others, and he is willing to perform lowly tasks in their behalf.
HOW DID ABRAHAM DISPLAY HUMILITY? Abraham gladly served others. As mentioned at the outset, when Abraham caught sight of the three visitors, he immediately set out to accommodate their needs. His wife, Sarah, quickly began preparing a meal. Notice, though, who was also doing much of the work: Abraham ran to meet the visitors, he offered to give them something to eat, he ran to the herd and selected an animal to slaughter, and he set all the provisions before the visitors. Rather than delegating everything to his servants, this humble man threw himself into that lowly work. He did not view it as beneath his dignity to serve others.
Abraham listened to the suggestions of those under his authority. The Bible records only a handful of conversations between Abraham and Sarah. Yet, twice we read that Abraham listened to Sarah’s ideas and acted on them. (Genesis 16:2; 21:8-14) On one of those occasions, her suggestion was initially “very displeasing to Abraham.” But when Jehovah spoke to Abraham, evaluating her idea as a good one, Abraham humbly yielded and implemented the suggestion.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR US? If we are truly humble, we will be happy to serve others. We will find joy in doing whatever we can to make their life more comfortable.
We may also show humility by the way we respond to other people’s suggestions. Instead of rejecting an idea simply because we did not think of it ourselves, we may wisely welcome comments from others. (Proverbs 15:22) Such an open-minded attitude especially benefits those with a measure of authority. “I’ve found that a good overseer creates an environment where people feel free to express themselves,” says an experienced supervisor named John. He adds: “It takes humility to recognize that someone under your oversight may have a better way of doing things than you do. But then again, no one—not even an overseer—has a monopoly on good ideas.”
When we imitate Abraham by listening to the suggestions of others and by performing lowly services in their behalf, we gain Jehovah’s favor. After all, “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Peter 5:5.