According to James chapter four and verse six, “God resists the proud but gives more grace to the humble”. Let’s begin by defining two important words: pride and humility. The standard definition of pride is a feeling of deep pleasure of satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Although there is such a thing as positive pride, we will be focusing on the negative use of the word. In the bible, the main Hebrew meaning includes the ideas of arrogance and cynical insensitivity to the needs of others; or to be high. It describes an individual who shifts ultimate confidence from God to self.
On the other hand is the word an attitude of humility which is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness and vanity. In Matthew chapter five and verse five we are told “Blessed are the meek; they will inherit the earth.” The words humility, humble and meek share the same meaning.
Now that we have laid our foundation lets proceed. In order for the gift of salvation, deliverance from sin and its consequences, to be received we must adopt and nurture an attitude of humility. John chapter one and verse twelve states: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Receiving Jesus, His lessons, correction and partnership, requires humility because pride leads us to be self-sufficient, self-satisfied and self- promoting. Isaiah chapter fourteen verses twelve through fourteen describes the destructiveness of pride: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will also sit on the mount of the congregation…I will be like the Most High.” Here we are shown the progressive decline within ourselves when we allow the attitude of pride to consume us. Lucifer was driven to sit in the place of God and he, now known as Satan, is still driven by the same mentality today. Pride causes us to replace our trust in God with trust in ourselves. It shifts us from Creator worship to creation worship. Pride does not just influence our actions; it contaminates our entire being.
Now let’s compare the previous verses to the example of our Savior. According to Philippians chapter two verses five to eight we are told: “Let this mind (attitude) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of humanity. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus, who had every right to claim the status of the royal throne while in the position of a creature (human being) rejected the many temptations to worship Himself. Instead, He learned to discipline His mind, while in our place, to trust fully in the power and person of God. Without humility, it is impossible for this mind to be in us because it requires us to admit that we are not sufficient in and of ourselves to produce the righteousness required in God’s kingdom.
Returning to James chapter four where it says: “God resists the proud but gives more grace to the humble” we can now better understand why. When it says that the proud are resisted, it does not mean that God does not seek relationship with the proud in heart. Rather, it means that pride blinds us to our need for God and causes us to reject Him. James goes on to say that He “gives more grace to the humble.” In other words, humility enables us to receive more grace out of an awareness of our deep -need. Luke chapter five and verse thirty-two states: “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Romans chapter three and verse twenty-three confirms that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” which shows us that all are in need of repentance. Since repentance is a gift it requires us to receive it. We are only ready to receive it when we are willing to see and admit that we are not sufficient in and of ourselves to produce it. We have to humbly embrace that our righteousness does not qualify us for right relationship and does not earn us a mansion in God’s kingdom. Humility enables us to not only admit our weakness but leads us to ask to be helped by the Savior. It helps us to listen to the leading and lessons of our Father and follow where He guides us. It empowers us to worship God, our source of life, instead of worshiping ourselves, His created beings. In conclusion, receiving the gift of salvation requires humility.
Father in heaven, please help us to be humble. Amen.