As people get older, they are prone to “soften” in more ways than one. Most importantly, people’s hearts tend to get softer – and they become humbler as the decades start ticking away. Much of our culture looks at this softening process with suspicion, wondering if it’s the fruit of humility or lack of backbone and/or drive. Even if it is humility, the public square often doesn’t honor the character of humility. Yet, God’s economy is quite different.
Both James (the brother of Jesus) and Peter (one of His closest followers) wrote, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) God opposes those who exhibit pride – because they are opposing Him. When people act in a prideful way, they are not seeking God – and Scripture declares they are also not making room for Him in their thoughts. (Psalm 10:4) If not seeking God, and not including Him in our thoughts are marks of pride –– many of us are often practically living in a prideful way.
Why is pride such a big deal? When pride is used negatively in Scripture, it is linked to ideas of arrogance, cynical insensitivity to the needs of others and presumption. Pride is both a disposition/attitude and a type of conduct. It demonstrates utter independence from God and people. It not only sees itself as self-sufficient but also as above and (sometimes subtlety) more valuable than others.
Pride is the opposite of faith in God. In fact, it takes no account of God – and acts like there is no need for God. It does the same with people. It is the opposite of the community we see within the Trinity – the Father loving and delighting in the Son, the Son honoring and obeying the will of the Father, and the Holy Spirit revealing and magnifying the Son. The Godhead is a love-fest marked with humility and honor. This, too, is a key characteristic of the Kingdom of God.
When you consider your recent days, have you been displaying humility or pride? Have you included God in your thoughts? Have you practically taken steps to humbly submit yourself to His will? When and how? Have others sensed/felt that you have come under them in order to lift them, or have you used them in order to lift yourself?
If you have found yourself in a prideful (or godless) place, and want to change, take heart – there is great hope! James shares the answer, “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) Acknowledge your sinfulness and your need for Him. Realize that His purposes trump yours, and without His mercy and help you honestly have little, of real and lasting value, to offer others . He will raise you – not necessarily to prominence (you probably couldn’t handle the notoriety), but from the place of judgment and into a posture and position of Kingdom usefulness. Let’s submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and see how He lifts us up. (Ephesians 5:21)
~ Coach Tom
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