Booker T. Washington

Romans 3:3-8

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with yourfaith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

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Renowned African-American educator and author Booker T. Washington was a leading voice for former slaves in the South following the Civil War. As president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he helped thousands of young black men and women get an education.

In the early days of his presidency, Washington was taking a walk through an affluent neighborhood when a woman stopped him and asked if he would like to earn some money chopping wood. Washington, a humble man who was no stranger to hard work—he worked in salt furnaces and coalmines as a child—had some free time that afternoon so he picked up an ax and got to work.

A little girl recognized Washington as he was stacking logs next to the woman’s fireplace, and after Washington left, she told the woman that the president of the Tuskegee Institute had just chopped wood for her. Incredibly embarrassed, the woman visited Washington at his office the next day to apologize.

“It's perfectly all right, madam,” Washington graciously replied. “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.”

The woman was impressed by Washington’s humble attitude, and she and several of her wealthy friends ended up donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

Throughout the Bible, humility is extolled as a virtue we all should seek.

Psalm 25:9 says, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Jesus said, “‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’” (Matthew 5:5).

But Jesus didn’t just talk about humility, He lived it. The Son of God was born in a lowly barn. During the last supper, He got down on His knees and washed His disciples’ dirty feet. And allowing Himself to be crucified was the very definition of humility.

Jesus said, “‘The greatest among you must be a servant.  But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’” (Matthew 23:11-12).

The Apostle Paul followed Jesus’ example of humility and constantly reminded his readers that he was nothing special and that he owed everything to Christ: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (I Timothy 1:15).

In Ephesians 3:8 Paul writes, I am less than the least of all God’s people,” and later in Ephesians he encourages believers with these words: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

If the man who wrote most of the New Testament had no reason to boast, neither do we. Paul could have sat back and recounted everything he did for the Lord: “I’ve built churches and won thousands of converts to Christ,” but he didn’t.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Pride is why Satan was kicked out of heaven, and it is what caused Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Many sins are rooted in pride. It can sneak up on us when we are least suspecting—even when we are working for the Kingdom. But there’s hope.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:6-8,10).

react

>What can you do to remind yourself to stay humble?

>Can you think of a time when pride came before a fall in your life? What was the outcome?

>What is the best way to fight the temptation to be prideful?