Wednesday: Clothed with Humility

Society was very stratified in the ancient world in which Peter lived. The ruling elite had what today might be called a “commanding presence.” Around them were clustered people of lower rank, and the lowest rank of all belonged to a slave.

The Pharisee and the Publican

Image © The Classic Bible Arts Collection

Humility was the proper attitude of those of lower rank toward those of a higher one. The Greek word for humility carries the meaning of “lowly,” “insignificant,” “weak,” and “poor.” It describes people without status and power in society. In the world outside of Judaism and Christianity, the word humble was associated with those of low status, and to act humbly would not necessarily have been commended as appropriate conduct of free people.

Read 1 Peter 5:5-7. Given the context and time in which they lived, what is so remarkable about what Peter wrote here?

In the Bible, humility is seen in a different light from how it was seen in the times and culture in which Peter lived. Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 from the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), a verse that is also quoted in James 4:6. In the Old Testament, part of God’s work in history is to lay low the high and mighty (Isa. 13:11, Isa. 23:9, Job 40:11).

One’s proper attitude toward God is humility. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6, NKJV). Humility, rather than pride, should characterize the Christian’s relationship, not only with God but with each other (1 Pet. 5:5).

Christians, even Christian leaders, are aware that they are sinners saved by God’s grace. In this most important sense, then, we are all equals, and before the Cross we should all be humbled. And this humility must be revealed in our relationship with others, especially those over whom we have charge. Sure, anyone could be humble before God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Also, it’s relatively easy to be humble before those who are above us, who have power over us, and who are “higher” in status than we are. The true test comes when we reveal humility toward those who are “under” us, who have no power over us. That’s the kind of humility Peter is talking about here.

What is it about the Cross and what it represents that should always help keep us humble?


Wednesday: Clothed with Humility — 9 Comments

  1. This was a great definition of humility using the display of servants in Peter's day. Thank God this was shared with me; we all need a good reminder of how to honor God correctly.

  2. Those of us who claim to be Christians would do well to think seriously about humility, especially when it comes to understanding salvation. I recently read an article on how un-churched people see us. Over and over, there were comments written by un-churched folk about how arrogant Christians are. Here are some examples:

    1) You think you are the only moral people in the world.

    2) Why have you always got to express your opinion so stridently, yet you refuse to listen to us when we offer our opinion

    3) Christians act as though they are in an exclusive club.

    I could go on, and to be fair the criticism is not true of all Christians. However the article said that the overall impression that many unchurched folk felt about Christians was one of arrogance. "We have the truth. Everyone else is wrong!"

    I learned a lesson early on in my teaching career. I started out thinking that being a teacher meant telling the students the things that they needed to learn and they would listen to what I had to say because I had qualifications that meant I knew what I was talking about. It took me just a little too long to learn that that was not what teaching was about. Students did not need to know the answers. They needed to learn how to find the answers.

    Once I discovered that, I changed my teaching tactics completely. Instead of acting like the fount of all knowledge, I started acting like a student - a fellow learner. I learned to make mistakes when problem solving with my class because it was important to detect when we make mistakes and back-track through the problem to find the source of the error. I was modelling the role of a learner - something which my students understood.

    We fulfill the role of spreading the Gospel, not by preaching that we know it all, but by living it, as fellow learners with our un-churched friends. That may just be the humility we need to learn.

    • Thank you so much. I have been waiting to hear this but now my mind and heart go to rest for at least I know am not alone.

  3. I think it all gets back to the most important commandment love your neighbour as you love your self that true humility .

  4. We are humble when we are able to learn from the smallest child. We need to become like the little ones in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

  5. Thanks Maurice for your relating your experience in learning how to be a great teacher - by being humble and taking on the role of a servant student. I bet your classes would have been fun and interesting in the learning role then.
    Your post has been an example to me. I have been a lecture in my past and found it difficult to get out of that role. I know how to change now. Thanks again.
    Godbless today. Mrs A Stolz.

  6. it is a big test indeed, isn't it?, that of--"submitting", in humility before those whom are above us!

  7. looking at the cross, we see the example He layed for us. He brought himself so low that we can be saved regardless of the cost or the pains it would bring.We also should do the same. Many times, people will take us for granted when we humble ourself but God said 'we shall be exalted'.Our focus should be on the cross which is our SALVATION.

  8. I thank God for the humble service of Christ for his love and rescue of our life through his death.


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