Grace for the Humble

from the James reading plan

James 4:1-12, Psalm 9:19, John 4:23-24, Galatians 1:10, 1 John 5:13-15

“It was pride that turned angels into devils; it is humility that makes man as angels.”
–St. Augustine of Hippo

Pride was at the core of the first great schism between creation and God. Satan and his fallen angels thought that they could lead, create, and govern better than God Himself.

I believe that pride, in its purest and most destructive form, still looks very much like that. It’s the notion that we can somehow lead, discern, and choose better than our Creator. When you say it out loud, it just sounds ridiculous. But at our center there is still this whispering, nudging voice that says, “I can do it better. And for doing it better, I deserve the glory.”

Perhaps pride can most simply be defined as a longing for glory that doesn’t really belong to us. Instead of desiring a moment of worship and adoration directed towards God, we try to redirect that glory and praise to ourselves.

Conversely, humility was at the center of our reconciliation with God. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross, in order to restore the brokenness our collective pride had established. Think about that: the humility of God heals, covers, and restores the prideful destruction of humanity.

In the quote above, Augustine was speaking figuratively about men being turned into angels, but the heart of his message is clear. Humility, and not pride, is the posture true Christ followers should seek to adopt.

It’s no wonder that James harps on humility so much. He knew it to be the core redemptive posture of his brother and our Lord. James challenges his readers: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (4:7-8). If we don’t pay careful attention, we miss the fact that this statement is sandwiched between verses exhorting the reader to choose humility as a way of life. This is a spiritual discipline that takes effort, but James knows it to be the way forward.

You want to flee from the devil? Live a humble, God-centered life.

You want to draw near to God? Mirror the posture that He has perfectly imaged in Jesus, humility.

Pride always seeks personal glory, but leaves you feeling empty and lacking. It promises to make your name powerful, but all it really does is puff you up so that the deflation aches all the more.

James calls on us all to walk in the way of Jesus, and to choose humility. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it brings a sense of wholeness and unity with God. It may seem counterintuitive, but then again, so is nearly the entire gospel and Jesus’ reverse economy of the Kingdom.

To borrow language from Eugene Peterson: live a life of a long obedience in the same direction, a humble life; this is the way of Jesus.

Written by Andrew Stoddard

Post Comments (7)

7 thoughts on "Grace for the Humble"

  1. Doug says:

    This is so refreshing to review. Not refreshing to look your own sin in the face but honestly maybe it is. I do so much to control my life and carry the weight and burden of my job, caring for family, etc when honestly I need to give God the burden and credit. When I do it goes so much better. When I don’t and am prideful and self focused it feels so alone and twice the load. Cast your burdens on Jesus and he will give you rest.

  2. Enjuju says:

    Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on what we want. And how we want to do it our way.
    Lord I hope to be more yielded to you, even though it’s gonna hurt.

  3. Mark Snyder says:

    Humility vs Pride

    Pride is so easy to obtain, it’s the default posture of man.
    Humility takes work to obtain, it’s the default posture of God.

    The humble leader listens and makes the decision.
    The humble leader explains why in terms of scripture reason and not self reason.
    The humble leader is close to Jesus because He is a humble leader.
    The humble leader seeks to please God and not man or self.
    The humble leader gives, loves, and acts for others before ever thinking of himself.

  4. Kevin says:

    I love Galatians 1:10 right now because it calls us out real quick. If we aren’t doing that, we aren’t serving Christ. I like to think short term and long term. Society tells us to fulfill ourselves I. The short term whether that’s ten minutes, a night, a weekend or whatever. What can you do now, to make yourselves feel good. That’s what society tells us to do. But God asks us, what can you sacrifice now, to further my kingdom in the long run? What can we give up now, so that we are servants of the lord and show others that. We are called to not be of this world so we have to be of God, and follow his plan.

    1. Casey says:

      Love reading your thoughts, my man! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Dalen Hanquist says:

    Humility is the way Jesus lived and so that is how we should live. By living a humble life we force the devil to flee and we become closer to God

  6. JeffJupp says:

    Wow I needed this reminder I get so caught up and forget oftentimes.
    Galatians 1:10 really stuck out to me
    10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    Do not seek the approval of men

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *