Read Scripture Blog: Week 7

Humility is one of the most important characteristics for God’s people in the Bible. There’s no denying that! I think that sometimes when we think of “humility”, our minds perform word association and we begin to think of humility as “self-humiliation”, bringing yourself lower and lower and lower. But I’ve always thought that was an unfair assessment of the definition of humility.
In my experience, one of the best examples of humility defined is found in military rankings, something that growing up as an Army brat I was familiar with. Sometimes I would see my dad as a Lt. Col. or a Col. interact with other soldiers, and it was abundantly clear from the first interaction who outranked whom. Respect and honor were showed to the commanding officer, while appreciation and approval were often showed to the lower-ranked soldier. You see, in the military it is so important that you know your rank”; you never want to be found thinking and acting that you are a higher rank than you actually are! Likewise, taking on the duties and the appearance of a lower-ranked officer would be counterproductive for the whole organization.
And this I think is a very clear and helpful example of humility – knowing your rank. If we read Scripture in its fullness, then we know clearly that we rank lower than God; we also are to rank ourselves lower than the people around us; we also rank higher than the animals on this earth. With each of these understandings comes implications for us. If we rank lower than God (way lower!), then our actions should never be found to be reflecting an attitude that we are greater than Him or know better than Him. If we are rank ourselves slightly lower than those around us, then our words and actions should honor them and help lift them up. If we rank higher than the animals, then our thought life and self-image should reflect that understanding that we have worth and value, and that we have a responsibility to rule and reign on this earth.
Humiliation – the act of bringing something or someone down – is only really necessary when we try to outrank God or others, and it becomes necessary for the benefit of the entire organization to reveal to us our proper ranking. This brings a hit to our pride and confidence yes, but necessarily so, since if we masquerade as the most important person we know, or as a god who has control over its own life, then we need the breakdown of that arrogance. Humility as a quality, however, I think is best seen as simply knowing your rank and acting accordingly. Should we think our rank as lower than it is, Jesus suggests in his parable of the wedding feast (Luke 14:7 11) that we will be lifted up to our proper place. So, there isn’t really a need to fear, unless we try to go above our ranking.
All this to say that, humility is so important to the life that Jesus has called us to, but it’s also so important to our daily reading of God’s Word. For if we think as we read that we of a higher ranking and don’t need certain commands or warnings from God, then we risk not only missing out on the great blessing of helping God’s army succeed, but also risk divine humiliation.