God delights in humility. Why? Because humility reflects a soft, tender heart that is willing to submit, is aware of the needs of others, and is teachable. It is modest and does not exalt self. Humility is difficult for us. Pride is our default setting. Humility, however, is the opposite of pride. Pride presents as a stiff-neck and a hard heart that will not bend the knee toward one in authority. Pride says, “I can do this myself without anyone else’s help. I know what to do so why should I ask God or anyone else for help.” Humility runs to the cross to confess sins and receive forgiveness and cleansing. Pride defends sin and refuses to acknowledge it much less confess it.
In his letter to the scattered church, Peter explains that “God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). If we would experience the grace of God in our lives, we must humble ourselves. So how do we do that? How do we humble ourselves? In a short, summary verse, James writes, “Submit yourselves, then, to God, Resist the devil and he (the devil) will flee from you” (James 4:7). Now that’s a powerful verse! If we submit ourselves to God and actively resist the temptations of the devil, he will flee from us because he cannot beat us. The first part is the key to humility, “submit yourselves, then, to God . . .” To submit to God means to become humble. To humble ourselves will involve a number of actions:
- Come near to God (4:8). Sin drives us from the presence of God lest we be found out. Repentance begins by coming into His presence to deal with our sin.
- Wash and purify our hearts (4:8). We begin this process by confessing our sin. With absolute honesty we call what we did, said, or thought sin. Confession is the first step toward a purified heart.
- No double life (4:8): The Bible declares that we can’t have it both ways. We can’t have friendship with the unsaved, broken world and with God. We can’t support the world’s godless values and claim to live for God. We have to choose. As Joshua wrote many years ago, “Choose you this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
- Be broken (4:9. 10). Here’s what brokenness looks like:
- Grieve (4:9)—Grieving is something we do at funerals at the loss of a loved one. Grieving is usually accompanied by deep sadness, tears, and feeling a loss. So it is with our sin when we are broken.
- Mourn and wail (4:9)—We don’t usually do this at funerals but the Jews of Jesus’ day did. They wept over the loss of a loved one, tore their clothes, threw dust in the air over their heads, and wailed out loud as they purged their emotions. Have you ever wept over your sin?
- Humble yourself, surrender your life completely to God (4:10)
- God will exalt you when you do (4:10)—1 Peter 5:6
Humility is something we can do. God wouldn’t have commanded us to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt you in due season” (1 Peter 5:6) if it wasn’t possible. Humility is the attitude of the heart that God cherishes.
God loves a humble, pliable heart.