Humility Defeats Satan

“When Abba Macarius was returning from the marsh to his cell one day carrying some palm-leaves, he met the devil on the road with a scythe. The [devil] struck at him as much as he pleased, but in vain, and said to him, ‘What is your power, Macarius, that makes me powerless against you? All that you do, I do, too; you fast, so do I; you keep vigil, and I do not sleep at all; in one thing only do you beat me.’ Abba Macarius asked what that was. He said, ‘Your humility. Because of that, I can do nothing against you.’ (Apoth., Macarius 11, p.130)

If this was true for Macarius, it was also true for any other person who wished to be a Christian. Anyone can fast or renounce what they love in order to gain what they want more. The devil himself is good at renunciation; there is no merit in that. For these early folk, the mark of the Christian was not renunciation or, for that matter, heroic feats of virtue, but humility.

 Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw all the snares that the enemy spread out all over the world, and I said, groaning, ‘What can get me through such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’ (Apoth., Anthony 7, pg. 2))

It was humility that made these ancient Christians able with the help of God’s grace to take on the enormous and dangerous task of the transformation of the old creation into the new.’  (Roberta C. Bondi, To Love as God Loves, pg. 42)