“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.”