My most humiliating experience ever was the day I addressed the faculty, students, and friends of a seminary on its fifty-year anniversary. I approached the lectern with my manuscript in hand and looked out on a vast crowd, but my eye fell on the distinguished professors seated in the front row, garbed in academic gowns and looking very serious. I immediately took leave of my senses. My mouth dried up and detached itself from my brain. I fumbled the first few sentences and then I began to improvise. Since I had no idea where I was in my lecture, I began frantically turning pages, while talking a line of nonsense that baffled everyone. Somehow I made it through, crept back to my chair, and stared at the floor. I wanted to die.
However, I learned that humiliation can be a good thing if it leads to humility, for this is the key that opens God’s heart. The Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). He showers the humble with grace. God Himself said, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). As we humble ourselves before God, He lifts us up (James 4:10).
Humiliation and shame can bring us to God for His shaping. When we fall, we have fallen into His hands.
James’ emphasis on resisting temptation fits within his broader teaching regarding the behavior of believers in Jesus. For James, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22
In today’s text, James helps believers understand one way to live with integrity—through humility. James 4:6, a reference to Proverbs 3:34, fits within many Jewish wisdom texts emphasizing the relationship between humility and godly living. Humility allows us to submit naturally to God and His plan (v. 8). Submitting to God means we’re “friends” with Him, instead of the world (v. 4). When we’re friends with God, we naturally live according to His kingdom and values, not the world’s (3:15, 17). As we live and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8), He lifts us up (James 4:10), draws near to us (v. 8), and makes the devil powerless.