In James 4:6, it states that “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Without humility, all the power of God available to you through the gift of holy spirit is useless. Why? Because God resists the proud. You can not operate all nine manifestations of the holy spirit without being humble to God. If you want the power of God and Christ operating in your life then you must be humble and meek.
There are over 350 verses in the bible that talk about humility and meekness. There are over 450 verses about pride. Do you think these two subjects are important to God? You bet they are. As such, they should be import to us as well. So today we’re going to be talking about pride and humility. There are different types of pride. There are also some misconceptions about what exactly humility and meekness are. So let’s cover the basic definitions first:
- Satisfaction or pleasure taken in one's own or another's success, achievements.
- A high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, (which can lead to) excessive self-esteem; conceit.
- A group of lions.
- Not proud or arrogant; modest.
- A feeling of being low in rank, importance, or dignity;
- To be meek
- The quality or condition of being humble;
- Having a modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.
- Gentle, courteous, kind.
Since we are not a group of lions, it seems there are two main types of pride that apply to us. Keep in mind that pride can be a good thing when it’s satisfaction from your own or from someone else’s success and achievements. Such as: Being proud of your family, your business and your country are all good things. It’s good to be proud of your work when well done.
But when pride goes a step too far and becoming excessive and arrogant then that is a big problem. Such as: Overly high self-esteem, conceit; or an unmerited high opinion of one's own dignity, importance or superiority. Without going into a deep word study in Greek, most of the times that pride comes up in the bible it is referring to the arrogant type of pride.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:40 that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments:
1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
Both of those commandments are impossible to obey without a heart of meekness and humility toward God and to others. Most people equate meekness with weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meek does not equal weak. The fact is the meeker you are, the more power you have. Not just with God, but over people and situations too. I’ll explain a little more about that in a few minutes.
God rewards the meek and resists the proud. Psalms 37:11 says, “…the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Again, James 4:6 “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Psalm 138:6 says, "Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." He knows the proud as being far away from Him. You cannot maintain an attitude of excessive arrogant pride and be close to God at the same time. It’s impossible.
Beware of ARROGANT PRIDE
Beware of ARROGANT PRIDE in your life; in your own heart and in the attitudes of others around you. Guard yourself against pride. Pride is insidious, blinding all who fall into its snare. Pride closes off the flow of God’s power stopping miracles from happening.
Pride is self serving, never a blessing to others. Arrogant pride binds your heart and blinds your eyes to the God’s will. Arrogant pride is of the devil and it never leads to righteousness. The root of pride is a subconscious attempt to meet a deep emotional need that we have for significance. If we are not careful, pride will rob us of the mechanism that allows God to impart his wisdom to us. The humble person seeks God's wisdom as he or she listens to God's word and seeks to do it.
Sometimes we wonder why we can’t seem to
get close to God or get our prayers answered...
We pray, we study, we pray some more and we cry out to Him and yet it seems like God won’t to talk to us or answer our prayers. Many times the reason for this is because there is pride and hardness in our heart that we might not be directly aware of. If you will ask God about that, about the pride or anything that is holding back God from working in your life, and you are willing to endure a little bit of painful humbling, He may just open up and show you. Doing that takes courage and ironically, a certain amount of humility.
The easiest thing to do in trying times is to allow our pride to flare up and begin fighting for what we believe is rightfully ours. Pride may cause us to start thinking, "Why should I have to endure this difficulty? I don’t deserve this!" We may even begin praying for God to give us what we think we rightfully deserve. The motive of a proud person's prayer is to get their will done, not God's will. In prayer they ask God for their requests, which are usually all about them. If you’ve ever been guilty of doing this, how often were those prayers answered?
Sometimes, we know there are things not pleasing to God, and we still hold onto them. This too, can be a form of pride. Sometimes you have to just come to God and admit that you know there are things in you that are not right, and what’s worse, you’re not ready to change yet. Perhaps in confessing this to the Lord, He will give you grace and your heart will be softened over time.
The Bible is very consistent in the theme
of God's resistance against pride.
God is very different from the world in this respect, among many others. The world encourages pride up to a point, as long as it is somewhat covered over - so as not to be revealed in its full ugliness. I don't think anyone really appreciates raw pride in others. It generates a kind of loathing in people, especially in prideful people.
The world encourages you to be your best, not so much because that will enable you to help more people, but rather, because then you have something to be proud about, so you can feel good about yourself or make more money. Then spend that money on yourself to make you happier.
One of the most powerful motivations today is the love of worldly desires. 1 John 2:15-16 warns, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.” And who controls the world? The devil controls the world. By loving the world, meaning you love money, power, material possessions and such, then you’re loving the devil.
This love of the world is what drives many people to devote their lives obsessively to their careers, to the pursuit of money and possessions, to fame or to an excessive compulsion for self improvement. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good and helpful things in moderation and when shared with others, but when driven by selfish arrogant pride they can destroy you.
Another downside is that in the process of bettering themselves, people tend to ignore God. Often their families are neglected as well. The desire to live in really big homes in expensive neighborhoods, to drive an high price status car, or to achieve some other selfish material goal often has a lot more to do with fulfilling personal ego and pride than anything else.
Matthew asks in 16:26 “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Arrogant pride is inappropriate and insulting to God. Anything good we have came from God. Pride prevents us from rightfully acknowledging the true source of this goodness we enjoy. The greatness we show forth is like the light of the moon, which has no light of its own, but merely reflects the light of the sun. Should the moon be proud then boast of the light it reflects? No and neither should we.
Let me ask you this: When everything is all about you, and you have everything you want, are you really truly happy? Maybe at first, but it gets old after a while. You begin feeling empty surrounded by all your wealth and possessions. Then you get lonely. That’s when you start looking for someone to share it with. Maybe your instincts are telling you where you should have started in the first place.
In Contrast to Pride, If We Humble Ourselves,
it will Change our Destiny
1 Peter 5:5-6 says “…All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
God is telling us that our job is to humble ourselves and His job is to exalt us when the time is right. If we try to reverse the roles, and do His job, exalting ourselves, then He will do our job for us, and humble us. I’ve personally seen it happen time after time. You’ve heard the expression, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
The Characteristics of Pride:
- The proud person only considers their own selfish interests; and is usually more than willing to fight to death for those interests.
- The proud are only concerned about their plans with very little, if any consideration for God or other people.
- A proud person's life dwells on what they have done, what they are doing and what great plans they have for their future. They live with blinders on.
- Pride leads us to arguing, strife, fighting, wars and ultimately destroys us.
- The proud person sits in judgment on others. He or she doesn't hesitate to tear others down to build themselves self up.
Pride cannot give us the lasting results we want. James says in chapter 4 verses 1-7
1) “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2) You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
3) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4) You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
5) Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
6) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34)
7) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8) Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
God will not allow pride and arrogance to rule in the long run. God will not and cannot give a proud person the desires of their heart. God's judgment is against the proud who oppress others to get what they want. The proud are planning their lives without God. They boast about their plans for the future. They fail to realize it’s not God's reverence and respect for their self perceived incredible awesomeness that awaits them in the future, its God’s judgment.
It is pride that makes us lust and covet and envy and murder and fight and war. Pride is to the life of the flesh what humility is to the life of the Spirit. Arrogant pride is at the very foundation of the lifestyle that displeases God. Pride brings destruction.
You Can Reverse the Damaging Effects
of Pride with Meekness and Humility
A person or nation against whom God has pronounced judgment can find mercy if they humble themselves. We look to King Ahab in the Old Testament for an example of this. Without going into long detail, King Ahab was very evil. In 1 Kings 21:25 it says, “there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD”. And yet, even wicked King Ahab, who led Israel into worse idolatry than any other king before him, was granted mercy from God for humbling of himself.
In 1 Kings 21:20-24 God has just condemned Ahab through the mouth of the prophet Elijah. Great destruction was about to fall on Ahab and all Israel. It says goes on to say:
27) “When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
28) Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite:
29) Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day,”
We see that Ahab’s humility moved the heart of God to compassion. And it will move the heart of God toward you too when you also humble yourself, no matter who you are or what amount of evil you think you have done!
The Characteristics of Humility:
Many people have the wrong idea about God, the Bible and humility, or being humble. They think being humble means groveling in front of others or thinking we're no good. That’s not what the Bible's says. God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. The meaning of humility and meekness in the Bible is one of loving others and being in a position of power, not being a wimp!
- You can defuse personal arguments when you are humble.
- You are able to be a peacemaker by mediating arguments of others.
- Godly humility is being comfortable with who you are in the Lord and therefore putting others first in all ways.
- You don’t need to stand up for yourself in an angry manner. And you do not have to win every argument. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
- You are able to walk humbly in the power of God’s Holy Spirit instead of your own limited personal power.
In the Bible, we see that Jesus gave us a good example of humility in action. Although he was humble, he was also strong. And there are times when we need to take strong actions. Here’s an example: Although Jesus was meek of spirit, he aggressively overturned the tables of the moneychangers and chased them out of the temple (Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15-16).
- You can handle unfair treatment peacefully when you are humble.
- You can respond to unfair treatment without being overcome by bitterness.
- When you are meek you do not feel a need for revenge.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
- You do not have to put on a "false front" when you are humble.
- When you understand God and humility, you don't need to act like a big shot. The stronger you are in spirit, the less you have to prove.
- When you are humble, you can respond to and learn from criticism without being defensive, whether the criticism is deserved or not. Likewise, you can be aware of your failures without being emotionally devastated.
- You can maintain a good attitude when you are humble.
- You can ask forgiveness when you are humble.
Although we should definitely avoid excessive self pride, godly humility does not mean we should pretend we are unaware of the gifts God has given us or ignore the power and authority He has granted us. Seek balance.
Enjoy the Power of Meekness
A meek and humble approach to life usually leads to more success than taking an arrogant aggressive approach. When you are humble, you are more likely to have more influence over others than when you come on strong. Even if things doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you still have the joy and pleasure in knowing that you acted in a godly manner; and that makes you a winner in the end.
The proud person wants to have their will done. The humble person wants to have God's will done. Pride brings destruction; meekness begets power. We can’t do God’s will without being humble and we must be humble in order to do God’s will.
God’s will for us is condensed into these two commandments from Jesus Christ:
1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
God gave us the gift of holy spirit with all nine manifestations as the specialized tools we need in order to carry out His will for us as faithful workmen of God’s Word. In so doing, we gain the fruit of the spirit as our earthly reward. Our heavenly reward is even greater but yet unseen.
Pride causes us to lose sight of those tools. Pride takes all the power away. The insidious part of pride is that it blinds us to seeing that instead of gaining, we are actually losing.
Humility is the key to the tool box. The act of being humble to God and toward others opens that box and empowers us to use those tools for amazing, miraculous acts of righteousness and blessings. God's power for living life well is given to those who humble themselves in his sight.
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About Your Humble Teacher, Daniel Sweet:
Daniel Sweet is an ordained minister of Christ, a four time published author on the subject of Meekness in Leadership and a big fan of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is an avid dirt biking enthusiast who makes the bible easy for everyone to understand by using humor and fun personal stories from his own life experiences. Daniel enjoys sharing with others how to gain strength through the knowledge and truth of God’s Word.