Monday, September 10, 2012

Why There’s No “Hero” in the Bible

Last night I witnessed a seemingly small act by my 8 year old daughter that may have saved her 6 year old sister’s life. Then today I read two stories of unsuspecting heroes.
The first story was of a man who crashed his Hummer into an oncoming vehicle to save the lives of 4 children in a crosswalk. He denied being a hero. He was just doing what anyone would have done.
The second story was of a bus driver who caught a 7 year autistic old girl falling from a 3rd story window. He denied being a hero. He was just doing what anyone would have done.
Think about the hero’s in your own life. Maybe it’s a neighbor who acted as a Good Samaritan. Maybe it’s a legislator who made it impossibly hard for your mother to abort you after she was raped. Maybe it’s a daughter who let you know her little sister was choking on plastic horse so you could help dislodge it before it was too late. Heroes.
But what is a hero?
Normally, I turn to the Bible to help me answer these kinds of questions, but a quick search turns up no occurrence of the word “hero” in the Bible. Interesting. But surely this is just a translational issue. If I were to look in a Bible Lexicon, I would certainly find a word that could be translated “hero”. Greek? Nope. Hebrew? Nope.*
But the Bible is full of stories of heroism, self-sacrifice, doing what’s right in the face of impossible odds and personal peril. Think about David facing Goliath or Esther standing up to to Artaxerxes, King of Persia. Think about the Jael driving a tent peg through Sisera’s temple as he slept hidden in her tent. Think about Jesus with nails through His hands and feet refusing for the sake of us poor sinners to cut short his suffering.
So, why aren’t they called heroes? Maybe they were just doing what anyone would have done. Maybe they were just doing what was required of them, what was expected. Maybe they were just doing what was right.**
They didn’t think they were heroes. Maybe the Hummer driver and the bus driver aren’t heroes. Maybe my daughter isn’t a hero. Maybe they just did what was right when it mattered most.
Maybe they were heeding the words of Jesus in Luke 17:10.
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” (ESV)
Like the biblical and modern examples, we should not desire to be heroes, but only to do what is right in every circumstance. No matter the difficulty. No matter the consequences.
*I did a search using the Logos Bible software in BDAG and BDB for English glosses and extended definitions containing the word “hero” resulting in zero hits.
**The Bible does have a word for this kind of behavior. It’s called righteousness.

1 comment:

  1. Very true. I suspect that truly heroic actions are not taken by those who are trying to be a hero.
    I really enjoyed reading what Rebecca Kiessling had to say.