Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
Our human spirit is sometimes a funny thing. We refuse to ask for directions, are hesitant to ask for help, and generally stick to the “I can do it myself attitude.” Now in many cases there’s nothing wrong with that, unless of course your spouse or friend is sitting in the passenger’s seat begging you to stop and get a map or ask for help. But like it or not these are small examples of pride. While we can all probably think of several mostly harmless instances like these, there are probably more we can think of that cause us to stumble. Recently I’ve been thinking of an encounter I was told about of a wealthy young man who is sick and hospitalized and my own interactions with an elderly gentleman I know who is also very wealthy. The common denominators between the two are as I pointed to, their wealth, their unbelief in the Lord, and their pride. The story, as it was told to me, of the younger gentleman involved a friend of mine ministering to him in the hospital. After several verses and passages were read to him, my friend said to him all you have to do is humble yourself before the Lord and receive him as Lord and Savior of your life. No doubt she was stunned in his response as he rose up in the hospital bed and said, “I’ll never humble myself before anyone.”
Shift now to the elderly man that I know. A small group of us have been sharing the Gospel with him every chance we’ve gotten for probably 6 months. Each time he makes sure we know that his beliefs fall right in the middle, believing in neither God nor the Devil, heaven nor hell. His pride rest in his money, everything he does, every business move he’s made has been for financial gain. His response to us resembles that of the rich young ruler from Matthew 19, thinking that he has led a good life, by his own standards, but ultimately if he were told to sell everything in order to gain eternal life, he would share a similar response to, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” Matthew 19:22
I started thinking about these two men and how pride had them snared, and it’s quite unlikely they’re alone. It never really occurred to me before just how powerful pride can be and just how detestable it is to God. But one verse kept coming to mind over and over, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5. This verse is a quote from Proverbs 3:34 by the Apostle Peter and the same reference is made in James 4:6. Maybe like me you’ve heard this verse numerous times, but did you ever stop to really think about it? How strongly God must abhor pride that He resists the proud. The Greek word for resists in these passages of the New Testament is antitasso meaning to range in battle against or to oppose one’s self. Think about what the Scripture is saying here, God literally battles the proud.
In the continuation of the passage we see that just as God resists the proud, He gives grace to humble. The Greek word for grace as used here is charis. This same word is found throughout the New Testament, but specific attention can be given to the familiar Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” It is by grace we are saved, “it is”, referring to saving grace, the gift of God. This is the same grace that the Bible points out is given to the humble. In context we can read the passages of I Peter and James to mean that if God resists the proud, and gives saving grace to the humble, then He does not give this grace to the proud. It’s not available, not offered, the proud are opposed and resisted by God.
But there’s hope for those bound by pride. If we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up. James 4:10 God will not only supply that wonderful, amazing grace, but will do so abundantly and just as James 4:6 says He will give more grace. Because just as God is able to resist the proud, He’s so abundantly compassionate to the humble, the broken and contrite heart that comes desperate before Him. Are you prideful today Christian? Has it crept up and ensnared you in its web? Maybe you’re a non-believer, like the two gentleman I mentioned, refusing to humble yourself before anyone. No matter how much wealth, how high your position, or how great your power, the path you’re on leads only to destruction and God is resisting you. Come broken before the cross of Jesus, seek forgiveness, and accept the free gift of grace necessary for salvation in Christ.
Proverbs 16:18-19 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Proverbs 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.