The Humility of Litter Picking

As I walked through Rocester on Monday morning on my way home from taking a school assembly about the Christian Value of Humility, I followed a couple who were picking up litter. Not their own, but what was already there. I have seen others do this around the lake too. I thanked them and they said they did it regularly. So, thanks to them (and possibly others) the village is relatively litter free.

One of the illustrations I had used in the assembly had the phrase Christlike humility – the path to a stronger community.  In this season of Lent Christians often give things up, or take on something extra to help them become more Christlike.

In the bible we read: “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:4-8)

To pick up someone else’s rubbish is a humble thing to do.  Humility is often mis-understood. It is the opposite of pride, and not to be confused with humiliation.

Humility is about doing the right thing and not worrying about what you look like or what others think of you. It is knowing who you are, which means that you don’t have to buy into what everyone else says about you. It takes humility to give up your time to serve others with no expectation of thanks or payment.

I thank God for everyone who serves others in the community like the couple I saw on Monday.

The paragraphs above were what I wrote for the local paper’s Church Corner. What I didn’t have space to expand on – and didn’t want to come across as having a rant – was I remembered the time that I went for a walk and picked up one piece of litter, then another, and another until I had a plastic bread bag (another piece of litter) full by the time I got home.

I really do not understand why people drop litter in the first place. And I didn’t think of what I was doing as being humble. But in preparing for the assembly one of the suggested illustrations was to have the head teacher picking up litter they hadn’t dropped. Not their job, but they care about the school so they did it. Litter picking may not be our job, but caring for the planet and our environment is something we all need to be active in.

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