In last week’s post, I wrote about the humility of Jesus. This week, I want to consider an Old Testament example of humility. In fact, the statement is a bold statement about being humble. Indeed, it is nearly as shocking as Paul’s use of the word “nothing” in Philippians 2.7.
Before I mention the text, what would you think about me if I said that I was a very humble man?
You may have a lot of questions. You may take exception. And that’s ok, because I am not saying I am a very humble man, I am simply asking what you would think if I did.
But Moses did make such a claim. In Numbers 12.3, Moses, as the author, wrote of himself, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
Meek is a synonym for humble. In fact, some translations use the word humble for that verse (I quoted the ESV). So, here is a man who was writing about himself and calling himself humble.
What would we think if someone claimed their own humility today? Whether on television, social media, or even in a semi-private setting, the person would likely be vilified.
But Moses made the claim. So, what do we do with it?
Before I address that, let us briefly acknowledge a couple of truths. First, Moses was a leader of millions. The book called Numbers provides a total of 603,550 (Numbers 1.46). But Numbers 1.2 says the count consists of males. And verse three says to count all males over the age of 20. So, Moses was a leader of millions.
Second, God is the true author of the Bible.
Now, some reading this blog may refute the second statement. And, if so, you may wish to refute the first as well. But if the second is true, then the first must be true because God does not lie (Titus 1.2). So, if God is the author, and the Bible says He is (2 Timothy 3.16), then either all of it is true, or we cannot be sure if any of it is true.
So, what do we do with the claim Moses made?
Well, given that Moses was the leader of millions who were, at times, at odds with him (understatement!), he had to know that it was God who empowered his leadership. We see Moses’ anxiety about the task in Exodus 3 when he gives multiple excuses to God before eventually yielding his will to God’s.
Additionally, if you hold that God wrote the Bible, then it was God who used Moses to write the words. Thus, God was the catalyst for the words, which also means that, God was the judge of Moses’ humility.
Frankly, that is something we either accept as truth or not. I must admit that the statement sticks out (obviously, I am writing a blog post about this single verse, so it sticks out to me!). And realistically, it was probably considered nearly as arrogant then, as it might be now, particularly as we become somewhat immune to personal expression in a culture filled with selfies.
But just because something sticks out as shocking does not mean it is not true. In fact, sometimes such a statement authenticates its truth because it would not otherwise gain our attention.
That idea is why I have written these two posts. Humility is rare and often draws attention. For those who embrace the truth of being truly humble (thinking of ourselves less than others – a consistent challenge for me, I assure you), others will notice. Some may scoff, but others will be curious. And that curiosity often leads to opportunity. Specifically, others may ask why we are the way we are.
Living different from the world is what it means to live fotonni. Being humble is just one part of living in, not of, but being humble is the example that Moses set. And being humble epitomizes who Jesus was (and is). Remember, as C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
I must do better at thinking of others. I must be better at being humble. The same is likely true for most who will read this post. But knowing what to do and choosing to do it are two different things. We may not announce our humility to the world by our words like Moses did, but we can choose to live in humility as Jesus did. So, the question for this week is virtually the same as it was last week:
Will you choose to live humbly for Jesus?