Tuesday, May 26, 2009

“Grace To The Humble”

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6

As Christians it is easy to pass right over a scripture like this, for we seldom think of ourselves as being proud. When we think of someone being proud, we think of some loud mouth rap singer or star athlete spouting off about how they are the greatest. Or possibly some atheistic politician or scientist who think they have the answer to our problems, and that anyone who believes that God has the solutions to life’s difficulties is archaic and weak minded. However when one considers the seriousness of the above verse it is worthy of some further personal scrutiny.

What does it mean to have God resist the proud? According to Webster resist means to “strive against,” or “have success in opposing something.” I don’t know about you but I don’t need God opposing or striving against me. Life can be tough enough with just Satan resisting me, and God on my side; I certainly don’t want to be in a position to have God resisting me as well.

The other side of the coin is this. While God is busy resisting the proud he “gives grace to the humble.” Grace is defined as “unmerited or unearned favor.” Who doesn’t want and need God’s favor, especially in a world full of evil, chaos, death, and disease?

The determination of whether I am proud or humble cannot simply be based upon what I think or feel to be true. For whether I receive God’s favor, or meet God’s resistance is at stake. By necessity I must use God’s Word to determine God’s mind as to what “He” considers to be pride and humility.

As I searched the scripture concerning this issue, I discovered some interesting things. Whenever God refers to the proud it is always in the context of someone who does not believe or obey his words. An example would be Pharaoh in Ex. 10:3 where God says to him, “how long will you refuse to humble thyself before me? Let my people go that they might serve me.” For Pharaoh to humble himself and put away his pride would mandate that he submit to God’s will and do what God Word demanded of him. Deuteronomy chapter 8 likewise teaches us that humility has to do with keeping Gods commands, but it also shows us another interesting picture of what God’s view of humility really consists of. God says he fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna and gave them water from the rock in order to humble them. “who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna…that he might humble thee.” Duet. 8:15-16 At first the question perplexed me as to how God providing for all the needs of the Israelites was a way of humbling them? How was giving them food, water, and clothes that didn’t wear out supposed to make them humble? I just didn’t get it. However after much prayer, meditation and some wisdom from my wife, the answer was a new revelation to me of what God’s view of humility really looks like. God humbled the Israelites by making them completely dependant upon Him. Without God’s daily provision of food and water they would have quickly perished in the harshness of the wilderness. Thus we see that the second definition of humbleness is to be completely dependant upon God. Trusting God as ones only source, ones only answer.

We see these same two definitions of humility in the text surrounding our key verse. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God..” James 4:6-7

“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you.” James 5:5-7

To be humble therefore is to submit to God and his will, obeying his word; and then casting all our cares upon him, trusting and depending on him as our only need, source, and answer. To be fully humble in this manner would necessitate that we go to God for his wisdom and direction for every decision and in every situation that we find ourselves on a daily or even a hourly basis, then trusting and resting in his loving sovereignty to work things out for our good.

By contrast to become proud is to forget God and what he commands and to instead follow and depend upon our own beliefs, abilities and desires. “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees….Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Duet. 8:11/14 NIV

We often have this idea that to be humble is to be this weak spined, self-loathing doormat of a person who spends their days with their head low in self-reproach as they repent continually for their sin and unworthiness. This is not humility at all. In fact the opposite is actually true. If we have been born again by faith in the blood of Jesus, and yet see ourselves in such a worthless, and useless manner we are actually walking in pride, and not humility. For the scripture teaches that if we have been washed in the blood of Jesus, we are beloved children of the most high God. (Luke 6:35) We have been made righteous and holy, and are kings and priests that will reign upon the earth. (2 Cor. 5:21 / Rev.5:10) So for us to believe something contrary to this is to say that whom “we” think and believe we are, supersedes whom God says and thinks we are, and that, my friend, is pride in its fullest degree. Being humble is not about seeing ourselves as a lowly slave who must bow and cower before a harsh master, but instead seeing ourselves as God sees us; as sons and daughters of the King of the universe who are loved with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3) and have been given power and authority over the enemy and all his works upon the earth. (Matt 10:1,8 / Luke 10:19) Man may see you as arrogant for having such an exalted view of yourself, but God will see you as humble for believing who “He” says you are.

So what is the grace or unmerited favor that the Word says the humble (those who believe and do what God says, and are depending completely upon God as their only need) will receive? Deuteronomy 8:7-9 says it this way, “The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills: A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.” In other words Gods desire is to bring us into a place within his kingdom where there is nothing missing and nothing broken in any area of our lives. Jesus said it this way, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows.” John 10:10 Amp

Let us strive to put away pride and seek genuine Godly humility for, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

“A Crumb Is All You Need”

In Matthew 14 the Bible tell us that once while Jesus was traveling near Tyre and Sidon a Canaanite woman came to Him crying and saying, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” (vs. 22) Jesus seemingly ignores her and gives her no answer. She apparently was not put off at all by His lack of interest in her, for the disciples then come to Jesus saying, “Send her away, for she keeps crying after us.” (vs. 23) It is unclear to me for sure, but based upon Jesus response to them, the disciples may have wanted Jesus to help this woman just in order to get her to go away; but at any rate they were obviously getting annoyed by her loud and persistent cries. Jesus response to their request was, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (vs. 24) In desperation the woman presses past the disciples disapproval and resistance, then falls at Jesus feet worshiping him, and cries the simplest of all prayers, “Lord, help me.” To this humble request Jesus replies, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (vs. 25)

You would think that after such an answer the woman would have gotten discouraged at the least and most likely offended. She could have said to herself in an angry tone, “Did He just call me a dog?!! Who does he think he is! Just because I’m not a Jew does that make me unworthy of his time and attention?” At this point she very well may have stomped off while muttering something unrepeatable under her breath. But no, Jesus answer to her didn’t dissuade here in the least. “Yes Lord, she said, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (vs.27)

This response is very revealing, for it tell us much about this woman’s heart and faith. She obviously understood that Jesus was the Messiah, and must have had revelation of His love and mercy. For although she understood that she was not worthy of the Messiah‘s time or attention, she claimed Him as her master, thus like the family dog, was bold enough to expect at least some crumbs. The woman’s answer to Jesus was essentially this, “No, I’m not worthy to take what belongs to the chosen ones, but your power, authority, love and mercy are all so abundant and great, that just one little crumb of your power; just one tiny drop of the leftover glory that might spill out after meeting the children’s needs, is all that is necessary to take care of my problem.” This response was so bold and faith filled that it moved the Messiah’s heart. Her trust in who Jesus is and in His amazing power and grace kept her seeking Him when others would have simply given up. Because of her persistence and faith she received the miracle she needed.

I don’t know what problems or difficulties you are facing today, but you don’t need all of Gods power and glory to meet that need. When it comes from the Masters’ table “a crumb is all you need.” But as children of the most high we don’t need to wait like a dog, for a crumb to fall, for all that the Father has is at our disposal. “My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31 Be like the Canaanite woman and press into Jesus, cry out to Him, don’t let the disapproving glares or words of the disciples keep you from worshiping at his feet. And when it feels as though Jesus is ignoring you and isn’t answering your cries, don’t give up, seek Him all the more persistently. His heart will be moved as he sees your faith and you will receive the wholeness you desire.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:16

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13