Grace for the Humble

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” — 1 Peter 5:5b

Do you ever find that when you are studying a particular topic in God’s Word, that He brings it up over and over again? It seems that I am rather thick-headed (I am certain that my mom would agree!) and I need Him to repeatedly remind me the things that He wants to teach me! Currently, that topic is pride.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have found the need on multiple occasions to repent of prideful behaviors, words, and attitudes. Even today, while at church (that place where we supposedly put on our holiness), when pressed with frustration, I responded with great pride. It has been said that you can know a person’s true character by his/her reaction to difficulty. Today’s reaction certainly doesn’t say much about my character, does it?!? I am so grateful for the kindness of God, which drew me to repentance. (Romans 2:4) And I’m thrilled that He is still working in me and will keep working in me until the day of completion! (Philippians 1:6)

The Bible has a lot to say about pride. None of it is very good. Here are just a few samples of what God says about pride:

  • God rewards pride with His wrath.
    • But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. — 2 Chronicles 32:35
  • Pride is associated with wickedness.
    • In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” — Psalm 10:4
  • Pride puts us in bondage.
    • For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter — Psalm 59:12
  • God hates pride.
    • The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. — Proverbs 8:13
  • The proud will be destroyed.
    • Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18
  • God is in opposition to the proud — an enemy of the proud.
    • But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” — James 4:6
    • Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” — 1 Peter 5:5

God hates pride! He is in opposition to it! He will destroy it! Pride is definitely not something that I want as a character trait for myself! But have you noticed how ingrained it is in our culture? We are supposed to be “proud to be an American.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and the freedoms that God has seen fit to allow us for this time. I don’t think that pride in our country is a terrible thing. The Bible, however, says that our pride should be in Him. So are we more proud to be an American or more proud to be a “little Christ?” Are we willing to give up our American “rights” in order for God to be glorified?

That’s not the only pride Americans have. We also like to say that we are “bursting with pride” (usually over our achievements). We say that our children are “our pride and joy.” Sometimes one “should swallow one’s pride.” But most often we tell people to “take pride in” themselves, their abilities, or their works. I was talking with my husband last night and he agreed with me, that in our culture, it is almost a vice to be humble and a virtue to be proud! If you aren’t proud of yourself, then something is wrong with you! It practically a virtue to put yourself out there to try to be the next American Idol. Our world is all about us and it makes me sad to see it seeping — no, flooding into the Church.

Even Christians now long for superstar pastors, Bible study teachers, and worship leaders. For me, this is especially evident in weekly women’s Bible studies. I don’t have anything against Bible studies using videos from other teachers, but what’s wrong with some of the amazing teachers in the local body? I know that the times I have been most affected by a weekly Bible study, were the more intimate times when one person taught based on a book founded on biblical principles, a book of the Bible, or a topic that God was teaching him/her. Instead, we long for the next American Idol leading us in worship that is supposed to be directed to Him.

I think, like many writers before me, I could go on and on about this topic. Instead,I’d like to close with a checklist that Nancy Leigh DeMoss has on her website. The original version is here.

41 Evidences of Pride

By Nancy Leigh DeMoss

1. Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?

2. Do you think of yourself as more spiritual than your mate, others in your church?

3. Do you have a judgmental spirit toward those who don’t make the same lifestyle choices you do . . . dress standards, how you school your kids, entertainment standards, etc.?

4. Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those thoughts to others? Do you have a sharp, critical tongue?

5. Do you frequently correct or criticize your mate, your pastor, or other people in positions of leadership (teachers, youth director, etc.)?

6. Do you give undue time, attention, and effort to your physical appearance—hair, make-up, clothing, weight, body shape, avoiding appearance of aging?

7. Are you proud of the schedule you keep, how disciplined you are, how much you are able to accomplish?

8. Are you driven to receive approval, praise, or acceptance from others?

9. Are you argumentative?

10. Do you generally think your way is the right way, the only way, or the best way?

11. Do you have a touchy, sensitive spirit? Easily offended? Get your feelings hurt easily?

12. Are you guilty of pretense? Trying to leave a better impression of yourself than is really true? (Would the people at church be shocked if they knew what you were like at home?)

13. Do you have a hard time admitting when you are wrong?

14. Do you have a hard time confessing your sin to God or others? (not just in generalities but specifics)

15. Do you have a hard time sharing your real spiritual needs/struggles with others?

16. Do you have a hard time praying aloud with others?

17. Are you excessively shy?

18. Do you have a hard time reaching out and being friendly to people you don’t know at church?

19. Do you resent being asked or expected to serve your family, your parents, or others?

20. Do you become defensive when you are criticized or corrected?

21. Are you a perfectionist? Do you get irked or impatient with people who aren’t?

22. Do you tend to be controlling—of your mate, your children, friends, those in your workplace?

23. Do you frequently interrupt people when they are speaking?

24. Does your husband feel intimidated by your “spirituality”?

25. Does your husband feel like he can never measure up to your expectations of what it means to be a good husband, spiritual leader, etc.?

26. Do you often complain—about the weather, your health, your circumstances, your job, your church?

27. Do you talk about yourself too much?

28. Are you more concerned about your problems, needs, burdens than about others’ concerns?

29. Do you worry about what others think of you? Too concerned about yourreputation or your family’s reputation?

30. Do you neglect to express gratitude for “little things”? To God? To others?

31. Do you neglect prayer and intake of the Word?

32. Do you get hurt if your accomplishments/or acts of service are not recognized or rewarded?

33. Do you get hurt if your feelings or opinions are not considered when your mate or your boss is making a decision or if you are not informed when a change or decision is made?

34. Do you react to rules? Do you have a hard time being told what to do?

35. Are you self-conscious because of your lack of education or natural beauty, or your socio-economic status?

36. Do you avoid participating in certain events, for fear of being embarrassed or looking foolish?

37. Do you avoid being around certain people because you feel inferior compared to them/don’t feel you measure up?

38. Are you uncomfortable inviting people to your home because you don’t think it’s nice enough or you can’t afford to do lavish entertaining?

39. Is it hard for you to let others know when you need help (practical or spiritual)?

40. When is the last time you said these words to a family member, friend, or co-worker: “I was wrong; would you please forgive me?” (If it’s been more than a month, mark it down!)

41. Are you sitting here thinking how many of these questions apply to someone you know? Feeling pretty good that none of these things really apply to you?

One thought on “Grace for the Humble

  1. This is something I need to read on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Thanks for telling it like it is.

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