And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12, NKJV)
Jesus gave a warning against the prideful religious display of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-12. This continues to be a trap into which we can too easily fall. In learning to be humble before God and men, we must be cautious against attitudes and actions that suggest we are so proud to be so humble (Luke 18:9-14). At the very moment we are convinced we have mastered the grace of humility, the sin of pride is lurking in the shadows. Those who take delight in asceticism or self-abasement as evidence of their spirituality have seemingly yielded to this temptation, for twice the Scriptures identify such “false humility” that has “no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:18, 23). Let us genuinely put on a heart of humility (Colossians 3:12). A heart of humility does not put on a show for others. It is not concerned with such things. Instead, it shows meekness, longsuffering, forbearance and forgiveness toward others as it lives among men and before God (Colossians 3:12-13). Humility serves, while pride expects to be served (1 Peter 5:5-6).
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1–2, NKJV)
Nicodemus had heard the teachings of Jesus, and he had apparently seen some of His miracles (or their effects). From this, Nicodemus rightly concluded that Jesus had come from God, and that God was with him. From the context, we are not amiss to conclude that Nicodemus was an early believer (John 2:23). He was a Pharisee, and a ruler of the Jews (John 7:50). This indicates the influence of Jesus’ words and deeds was already beginning to reach the upper echelons of Jewish power. Although this night visit implies an element of fear on the part of Nicodemus, it also shows him acting on the conclusion he drew from the words and signs of Jesus. He did not withdraw from Jesus, criticize Him, or obstruct His work. This “teacher of Israel” went directly to Jesus to investigate for himself. We must never allow our place in society, our degree of education, or the authority we hold over others to prevent a humble investigation of Christ and His gospel. Pride would have prevented this night visit. Is pride keeping you from going to Jesus, learning from Him, and following His word? Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, NKJV)
There is no virtue in defying God and His word; such is the height of arrogance. The Ad Council campaign, “Love Has No Labels,” while addressing bias as they see it (and indeed, there are sinful biases that call for rebuke, repudiation and repentance), also fights against the word of God in some instances by promoting inclusion of life activities which He excludes from His approval. (See Sword Tips, November 24, 2016, for more.) God does not accept the practice of immorality and religious error under the banner of “love.” Of course, we must treat everyone with kindness, but we do not respect sin. The Bible says, “You who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psa. 97:10). Sin God hates sin, He does not include those who practice sin into the spiritual blessings that are “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Jesus died for sinners because of our sin. God does not overlook, accommodate or otherwise diversity His fellowship for the sake of “inclusion.” God resists the proud, who demand their will over His revealed will, the inspired Scriptures. Humble yourself before God, accept and abide in His word, and He will give you grace. That is His promise, but it is conditional upon your faith in Him and His word, not yourself (Eph. 2:8-9).
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth. 5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. 6 Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. (Psalm 138:4–6, NKJV)
Great is the temptation for the rulers of men to unduly exalt themselves. The great Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar dramatically learned that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:32, 28-35). Wise rulers bow before Almighty God with reverent acknowledgement and praise. They listen to His word, being guided by divine counsel. Thus, humble kings are regarded on high, but arrogant leaders are not given an audience before God. You and I are not kings, yet most of us have some sphere of responsibility toward others – perhaps as a parent or a business owner, a manager or a teacher, etc. Do not allow your position of authority over others lead you to act out of pride. Remember, you have a Master in heaven (Col. 4:1). Be humble in all your dealings with men, and so be humble before God. He will exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:6).
4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts…11 He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” (Psalm 10:4, 11 NKJV)
Is your pride preventing you from seeking God? This verse teaches us pride is a great hindrance to look for and inquiring about God. Of course, just thinking about God does not make one acceptable to God, but it is a place to start. When thinking about God, His presence and His will forms no part of your conscious thought process, then what is right in God’s sight no longer matters. It becomes easy to think, “God doesn’t care, God doesn’t see, God has forgotten me.” But, God never sleeps. He sees everything, including your heart (Heb. 4:13). Humble yourself before Almighty God. Turn your heart toward Him, learn from Him and live for Him. He is ready to save you and shower you with spiritual blessings you. Do not let pride stand in your way.
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7, NKJV)
Humility shows itself through submission. It is the proud of heart who always knows better, does better and is better than everyone else (or at least, in his or her own eyes). We will not show proper humility toward others until we are first humble toward God. We must submit ourselves to His power, to His time and trust His constant care for us. It takes humble faith to trust the Lord’s way instead of our own. Submit your will to the Almighty and clothe yourself with humility. God will exalt the humble one, whose submissive life readily serves God and others.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV)
Living in God’s grace does not give Christians a license to have arrogant attitudes, words and deeds toward one another. There ought to be a symbiotic relationship between younger and older Christians; interdependent, instead of independent, of each other. In another context, Paul said, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Rom. 14:7). We need each other. Therefore, proper respect and regard ought to be shown by all. Younger saints should yield to their elders out of respect and consideration. An older Christians should not discount and despise a fellow saint simply due to their youth. We are yield to one another out of humility. After all, God will not receive the proud; He favors the humble. Commit yourself to developing a humble attitude. Be humble by using kind words and respectful actions toward your brethren in Christ.