I’m always eager to investigate when a Greek or Hebrew word ends up being used in Scripture only once. Today’s “one another” contains just such a word. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (I Peter 5:5). The English word “clothe” is used several times in the Bible’s NASB version and means pretty much what you’d expect it to mean: to put something on to wear for clothing.
However, Peter chose to use a completely different Greek word, one which means to put on a particular type of garment, namely an egkomboma, the garment of a slave. This word choice speaks volumes with regard to our “humility toward one another”.
As I sought for an adequate definition of humility, I kept coming face-to-face with the word “meek”. Interestingly, the word “meek” is linguistically related to both “muck” and “mucus”! The primary sense of the word is a thin, flowing liquid… Yes, I was just as surprised as you. However, this knowledge does help me understand how a humble and meek person is to have a yielding spirit, not be easily provoked, and be forgiving when injured.
There are two notable biblical examples of humility. The first is in Numbers 12:3, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” The second is found in Matthew 11:29, where Jesus says of Himself, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.
By looking at these two examples, we see that such humility is neither contrived nor self-degrading. Biblical humility comes from recognizing one’s complete dependence on God and, therefore, being in complete submission to God’s will. This humility finds its expression in submission (yielding or bending without murmuring) with willingness to serve others, even at one’s own expense.
John 13:3-5 “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”