Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Grace of Humility leads to Christ-likeness
James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
When you begin to study the subject of humility in the scripture, you will find rich meanings in the Old and New Testament words used to refer to humility. The chief word for humility in the Old Testament literally pictures a servant bowing their knee in respect to a master or a king. In the New Testament we see two main Greek words used to render the term "humility". In the list of the nine fruits of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22, the word translated "meekness" in some translations could just as easily be rendered "humility". The term used in that text speaks of striking a perfect balance between strength and control - thus meekness is a form of humility. The other Greek word for humility is found in James 4:6, which refers to a person who desires to place others ahead of themselves. I heard one preacher give this definition for humility: "humility is knowing what you are and what you are not." At a Sunday School class I heard another person give this defintion of humility: "humility is not thinking less about yourself but thinking about yourself less."
Certainly humility at one level can be expressed by all people - however non-redemptive expressions of humility will ultimately lead back to that person, even if unintentioned. True Christian humility will result in the attention going away from the humble person to Jesus - since humility, next to love, is the best way for Christians to act, talk and think like Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-11)
Humility is a virtue
Humility is both a command given to believers and a Divinely given grace from the Holy Spirit. Older Christians used to speak of what was called "Christian Virtues". A virtue is anything that is Divinely given by God that in turn becomes a decision of of the will, resulting in that person drawing closer to God by their own choosing. Case in point, humility is a Divinely given grace (John 13:15; Galatians 5:22; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) and yet at the same time it is a disposition of the human heart exercising such humility. (John 13:14; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:6) Furthermore, humility results in a person drawing closer to God and being drawn closer to God. (Isaiah 57:15; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:5-6)
So to sum up what we have said thus far - humility is both a responsibility of every Christian and a Grace given by the Spirit of God. Without the grace of humility, a Christian cannot truly carry out their genuine responsibility to be a humble person. Furthermore, the way I know I have successfully achieved Christian humility is when no one talks about me but rather talks about what Jesus has done.
The Grace of Humility enables me to be like Jesus
James 4:6-10 is a remarkable text that shows how humility is given and acted out by Christians. Furthermore, as you begin to look at James's series of commands in the text, you discover that they give you a working outline of Jesus' life and ministry. Let me show you what I mean:
1. Jesus was given grace without measure due to His humility
John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. "
Philippians 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Thus Christians are given a measure of grace in humility.
James 4:6 "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
2. Jesus' humble submission to His Father led to Him resisting Satan and Satan's fleeing
Matthew 4:10 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11 then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Thus Christians are able to resist Satan when they humble themselves to God
James 4:7 "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
3. Jesus' humility led Him to depend on His Father in prayer
Luke 22:39-41 39And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray. (There are over a dozen examples of Jesus praying in the Gospels)
Thus Christians are to humble themselves in prayerful dependance upon the Father
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
4. Though Jesus was sinless in his humanity, He humbly drew near to God His Father
Hebrews 5:7 "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety."
Thus Christians who are not yet sinless have even greater need to humbly come to the Father in prayer
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
5. Though sinless, Jesus humbly went to the cross, bearing our sins and cried out to God
Mark 15:34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" which is translated, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
Hebrews 5:8 "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered."
Thus Christians need to keep ever focused on the cross so as to hate sin and hasten more to Jesus
James 4:9 "Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom." As Christians, we ought to be heartbroken anytime we sin.
6. Jesus humbled Himself to death, and God raised Him up to be exalted at His right hand
Philippians 2:8-9 "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name"
Thus Christians who humble themselves under God's mighty hand will in due time be lifted up
James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you."
The Grace of humility enables you and I to be like Jesus. As we have seen in the above thoughts, whether we speak of Christ's incarnation (point #1), beginning of his earthly ministry (point #2), His prayer-life (point #3), His over-all daily life leading up to the cross (point #4), His crucifixion (point #5) or His resurrection (point #6), humility ran through the entirety of Jesus' earthly life, ministry, ddeath and reusrrection. You and I as Christians are called to humility for the sake of being like Jesus. May we operate in the grace of humility this day.