God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.
Friend to Friend
I once dated a fellow who drove me up the wall with his boasting. He would ask, “What did you think of that touchdown I made? Have you ever seen anybody run so fast and dodge so many people before crossing into the end zone?” He invited me to spend the weekend with his family by saying, “If it’s okay with you, my dad will fly us down in our fifteen-passenger Lear jet, and we can spend a couple of days on our seven-and-a-half-million-dollar yacht, which by the way, is the largest one in the Florida Keys.” After three months of dating, I was ready to slap some duct tape on his mouth, bind his hands and feet, and throw him off his seven-and-a-half-million-dollar yacht.
Boasting is a form of pride. The more pride we have, the more we despise it in others. While this boy desperately needed to get over himself, I must admit that I am guilty of this same sort of boasting. I’m just slightly more clever in how I do it. I’ve manipulated conversations in order to casually mention an accomplishment, name drop, or detail a “humble” act of service. I’ve said things like, “I am so excited! I’ve been invited to speak at the largest home-school convention in the country.” Realizing how that might sound, I’ll quickly add a spiritual cover-up to divert attention from my proud motive. “What an amazing opportunity to encourage others for God’s glory.” I may have fooled the listener, but I certainly haven’t fooled God.
Pride is the granddaddy of all sins—typically the sin from which all other sins originate. It was pride that caused Satan to become Satan. It was pride that caused the fall of Israel. And, as much as we hate to admit it, it is often pride that blocks the Holy Spirit from moving in our lives. It’s the sin with the strongest grip, the sin we loathe when we see it in others, and the sin we often refuse to see in ourselves.
Jesus demonstrated humility during his time on earth, setting an example for us to follow. His time on earth was not spent seeking glory from people. John records that Jesus said, “I do not accept glory from human beings” (John 5:41), and he made it clear that his purpose for humbling himself was not to do his own will, but the will of the Father (6:38). He did not come to receive honor and praise, but avoided it like the plague. “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (6:14-15).
I don’t know about you, but if I knew someone was coming to bestow an honor on me or make me queen for the day, the only place I’d be tempted to go is to get my hair done so that it would fashionably accommodate the crown. But not Jesus. He was not here for that purpose. The Gospels tell how Jesus demonstrated humility from start to finish. He was born in a manger, lived in poverty, submitted to ordinances, and befriended the despised. He willingly suffered (Isa. 50:6) and died a humiliating death on our behalf (Heb. 12:2).
Throughout Scripture, God calls Christians to be humble, saying that he “opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). He warns of the consequences of pride, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled” and he foretells of the blessings of humility, “[T]hose who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). He explains that humility is a prerequisite for his guidance in our lives (Ps. 25:9), and instructs us to wrap it around everything we do (Col. 3:12).
Although God calls us to walk in humility, pride is our weakness. Yet it is through our weaknesses that God manifests his strength and ongoing work in our lives. When we acknowledge and confess weakness rather than denying it, the Holy Spirit brings about repentance, which brings about God’s righteousness in us. With gratitude for God’s work in us, Paul said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
I am grateful for the ongoing work of Jesus in my life and the undeserved grace given to me through his sacrificial display of humility. Therefore, I do not want to boast in anything I have done, but in the great things he has done. I ask that the Holy Spirit convict me of pride, and as he does, I will confess and repent of it before my Savior and Lord, praising him continuously for his forgiveness, mercy, and atonement.
Father, please convict and forgive me for the pride that is in my heart. I do not want to boast in anything I have done, as there is nothing good in me apart from You. You alone are righteous, holy, and worthy of praise. May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be for your glory. Thank you for your ongoing work in my life.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What talents has God given you?
Are you using those talents for the glory of God or to win the approval and praise of others?
What changes can you make to move from being self-focused to Jesus-focused?