A very old song has this line, “I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I don’t know enough about you.” Admitting that one doesn’t know everything about everything is a good start to humility. Someone once said, “I know just enough to know I don’t know much.” That is another step on the road to humility. Sometimes geniuses in one field can make others feel humbled by their excessive display of learning and yet fail miserably in the areas of common sense and courtesy. A pedant is an arrogant person who overemphasizes rules or minor details. Many instruction manuals on how to assemble electronic gismos seem to have been written by pedants.
The 19th and 20th Centuries seem to have produced an inordinate number of geniuses—Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, the Wright brothers—just to name a few. Sadly, less acclaimed were geniuses in human kindness and service to their fellow humans—Mother Teresa, David Livingstone, Doctors without borders and a cast of thousands.
God commands humility (1 Pe 5:6) (Jas 5:5-6) (Eph 4:2). He also rewards humility (2 Ch 7:14) (Ps 25:9) (Jas 4:6). Moses was called by God, “more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Num 12:3). He proved that many times in the journey towards the promised land. However even he showed a violent temper at times by slaying an Egyptian (Ex 2:12), breaking the first tablets of the 10 Commandments in anger (Ex 32:19), and by striking the rock instead of speaking to it (Num 20:10-11).
Jesus Christ modeled the perfect marriage of humility and service when he washed the Apostles feet just hours before he was tortured and killed on a Roman cross. He told his followers to go and do likewise (Jo 13:3-15). However, the pedantic Scribes and Pharisees ignored his preaching and his loving service and remained as arrogant and ignorant as ever. They teach us a negative model of how not to be humble (Mt 6:3, 5-6, 15). It sounds very much like the arrogant want to be in the spotlight and the humble are satisfied with lighting a candle.