Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7
How many times have I read passages on humility and pride and thought, “I’m doing ok in this area.” And then I go about my day. There have been other times that I have stared at the word “humility” trying to understand what it really means.
I spent the last couple of weeks studying 1 Peter. Peter discusses humility throughout his letter. It was in chapter 5 that I read the verse I’ve read so many times but this time something stood out. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, 1 Peter 5:5. The question came to me, “How many of my failures and how many of my unanswered prayers have been because God is opposing me? Has my relationship with Christ plateaued because I have failed to deal with my pride?”
I’ve always thought of pride as that guy who is always boasting about how much money he makes or the supermodel he is dating. But there are several expressions of pride. Self-sufficiency is one. Trusting only in yourself and believing you have the knowledge and power to achieve anything you desire and overcome any problem that comes your way.
This form of pride has been part of my life for years. I honestly don’t know when it cropped up but it is firmly rooted at this point. I do not like asking for help or saying I’m wrong. I like to plan out my life . The problem with self-sufficiency is it the denies the need for Christ and community. If I can fix all my problems then why do I need a savior and why do I need others? There in lies the problem. Pride also makes you delusional. I understand that I need salvation and I need community but my pride wants me to think I don’t.
I also like to be right and the guy with all the answers. But this has gotten so out of control that it stunts my relationships because I’m always trying to prove I’m right. And it’s never on anything that is eternally significant. I’ve argued over the correct reason that coffee creamer is flammable.
One more area is selfish motives. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”, Philippians 2:3-4. So often I do good things for others not because the love of Christ compels me to but so that I might impress some woman or in the vain attempt that someone might be my friend.
Now that the problem has been diagnosed, what is the treatment. The scripture is clear that humility is the remedy. So what does it mean to be humble. Andrew Murray in his book “Humility” contends that “faith and humility are at root one.”
We need only think for a moment what faith is. Is it not the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work? Is it not in itself the most humbling thing there can be,–the acceptance of our place as dependents, who can claim or get or do nothing but what grace bestows? Humility is simply the disposition which prepares the soul for living on trust. p 96
Pride renders faith impossible. Salvation comes through a cross and a crucified Christ. Salvation is the fellowship with the crucified Christ in the spirit of His cross. Salvation is union with and delight in, salvation is participation in, the humility of Jesus. Is it wonder that our faith is so feeble when pride still reigns so much, and we have scarce learned even to long or pray for humility as the most needful and blessed part of salvation? p 97
I have a hard time being a dependent and confessing I am nothing and helpless. Yet when I read the scriptures, things begin to make sense.
“Humble yourselves… casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7. I am to take on the role of the dependent. Because I’m dependent on God for even my next breath, all of life is anxiety. I have no control of anything. So I am to turn to the one person who truly cares for me and can fix my problems.
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,’” 2 Corinthians 12:9. As long as I act like I have ultimate control of my life, then Christ’s power will not be perfected in me. God will only be strong when I am weak. He will not compete for His glory.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:5-8
Christ had everything to give up and he did so to fulfill the will of his Father. I have nothing and yet think that I do and hold so dearly to vapors. Surrender, letting go control of my life. letting God do his job as creator and sustainer and I do my job of being an empty vessel. That is what the scriptures call us to.
“True humility comes when, in light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing, have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all.” p 65. This is the calling of the Christian life and tied up in the command to take up our cross daily and crucify our flesh.