Volume 2, Day 1 – Tapeinos
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. (Matthew 11:28-29, emphasis added)
To the best of my knowledge, the passage above is the only time Jesus described His inner
being using His own words. As a result, we stand to learn much about our Savior by carefully
studying the words He chose. While I have so very far to go, it is my heart’s desire to become
as much like Christ as possible. Therefore, I want to know the meanings of the words He used
to describe Himself. Toward that end, I recently completed a thorough study of “humble” for my
Greek class. While the entire paper is FASCINATING reading, I’ll just give you the gist here!
The Greek word used (tapeinos) originally meant “low-lying” and described objects that did not
rise far from the ground. It was assigned to those who were poor, unimportant, of little social
influence, and powerless. Therefore, in the Greek culture, where man was the highest measure
of all things, to be considered “humble” was shameful and contemptible.
However, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), a dramatic contrast is
immediately evident. While the basic notion of being low, oppressed, and afflicted remains, the
word describes desirable traits for a child of God. In a theocentric view of mankind, humans are
rightly viewed as lower than God, and humble describes a person who has been brought into
right relationship with God and with others.
In Matthew 11, Christ used the term to describe Himself as He extended a warm, friendly
welcome to lost, weary sinners. He could welcome the lowly and the oppressed because He
was among them. If we look closely, we see that Jesus did not simply say that He was humble,
but that He was humble in heart. Lowly and humble did not describe just His earthly living
conditions. No, EVERYTHING about Christ was lowly and humble.
He was humble in His will, in His attitude, and in His thoughts. He was humble in His desires,
His decisions, and in His actions as He chose to leave His throne in heaven and come to serve
and save sinful man. It is no wonder that Paul pointed to Christ and told his readers to develop
that same attitude (Philippians 2:6-11). To see others as more significant than ourselves, to put
their needs ahead of our own, to empty ourselves as we lay down our lives in service to Him
and others – knowing that those who humble themselves now will one day be exalted by God.
Humble described all of Jesus – does it describe us?