Do You Want God to Oppose You in Your Pride, or to Give Grace to You in Your Humility?

It’s not only wrong to oppose God by being proud—it’s utterly foolish.

What could you want more than God’s grace? Our Christian lives begin with grace and we are saved by grace, but we are also sanctified by grace and will be glorified by grace. We need grace today, every bit as much as the first day we came to faith in Christ. “He gives grace to the humble.” Want more grace from God? Then here’s the formula: humble yourself. Or do you want God to fight you, go to war against you, and defeat and humiliate you? Then go ahead and be proud. It’s that simple.

 

First Peter 5:5 (ESV) says:

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.”

What’s translated here as “humility,” or “humble yourselves” in the following verse, is a Greek word that means “low-lying.” It was used derisively by the Greeks and the Romans. To be accused of being humble was very negative because both those groups were proud people.

And we as Americans, as well as citizens of nations around the planet, are certainly proud people! We see this in sports, in politics, and sometimes even in preaching styles. Sadly, there are people who get up in their churches and on their television programs and posture and wear their prominent jewelry or flashy clothes and seemingly try to draw attention to themselves.

We see this sometimes with athletes, with some of the self-glorifying celebrations and the intimidation of their opponents. We see it sometimes in business people and musicians and actors and writers and for sure in politics. It’s rampant.  (Of course there are truly humble pastors, athletes, musicians, business people, and politicians. I know a number of them, so this isn’t a generalization, just a recognition that the pride problem is widespread.)

These kinds of things were normal to the Greeks and Romans, and are normal in America, but they’re not to be normal to the church, the body of Christ. We’re to see with God’s perspective, and He regards humility as something beautiful. Christ is our ultimate example of humility, as we see in John 13, when He washed the feet of His disciples.

“God opposes the proud,” this text says. That’s a word used for battle, and to oppose means to be at war with. Do you really want to be at war with God? No! Be at war with Satan. Sometimes for a great cause, you’ll be at war with people, even though you love them and pray for their conversion. But you and I never, ever want to be at war with God. That’s a war we can never win! What could be more foolish than to pit yourself against God? Whatever God says He opposes is exactly what we should not be doing. So it’s not just wrong to be proud—it’s just plain stupid.

“But he gives grace to the humble.” What could you want more than God’s grace? Our Christian lives begin with grace and we are saved by grace, but we are also sanctified by grace and will be glorified by grace. We need grace today, every bit as much as the first day we came to faith in Christ. “He gives grace to the humble.” Want more grace from God? Then here’s the formula: humble yourself. Or do you want God to fight you, go to war against you, and defeat and humiliate you? Then go ahead and be proud. It’s that simple.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.” Notice it says all of you. There are no exceptions to this. No pastor or elder or leader inside or outside the church can get away with pride and arrogance. And notice it says, “Clothe yourselves with humility.” Not “let yourself be clothed.” This is not Downton Abbey, where there’s a lady’s maid to dress the women, and a butler to dress the men. You have to put on your own clothes. God calls us to be servants, and no one dresses the servant!

Read More