Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
Reflecting one day on why God values humility so highly, sixteenth-century believer Teresa of Avila suddenly realized the answer: “It is because God is the supreme Truth, and humility is the truth. . . . Nothing good in us springs from ourselves. Rather, it comes from the waters of grace, near which the soul remains, like a tree planted by a river, and from that Sun which gives life to our works.” Teresa concluded that it’s by prayer that we anchor ourselves in that reality, for “the whole foundation of prayer is humility. The more we humble ourselves in prayer, the more will God lift us up.”
Teresa’s words about humility echo the language of Scripture in James 4, where James warned of the self-destructive nature of pride and selfish ambition, the opposite of a life lived in dependence on God’s grace (vv. 1–6). The only solution to a life of greed, despair, and constant conflict, he emphasized, is to repent of our pride in exchange for God’s grace. Or, in other words, to “humble yourselves before the Lord,” with the assurance that “he will lift you up” (v. 10).
Only when we’re rooted in the waters of grace can we find ourselves nourished by the “wisdom that comes from heaven” (3:17). Only in Him can we find ourselves lifted up by the truth.
How does pride hinder true prayer and experience of God’s grace? How have you experienced the freedom of humility through prayer?
Loving God, thank You for the gift of life with You. Thank You that I don’t need to be more than I am. Thank You that in You I find all that I need and more.
For further study, read Making Decisions God’s Way at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0745.
James identified two sinful heart attitudes detrimental to peace and harmony in the church: covetousness (4:1–3) and pride (vv. 5–10). Covetousness or greed is condemned in the eighth and tenth commandments (Exodus 20:15, 17). Jesus warned us to “guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15). Greed is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5) because, in essence, it’s the worship of self. What fuels this self-worship is pride. Solomon says, “Where there is strife, there is pride” (Proverbs 13:10). God’s humbling of the proud is His emphatic judgment (Proverbs 6:16–17; Daniel 4:37; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).