Summary: A message from James chapter 4 dealing with pride and humility

Pride and Humility

James 4

CHCC: November 21, 2010


At the center of this chapter, James quotes a Proverb: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6 from Proverbs 3:34

God gives grace to the humble is because they submit to Him. In other words, the humble know they NEED God. God opposes the proud for just one reason: because they oppose Him.

The verses in the middle of chapter 4 tell what it means to be humble. It says simply: 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Vs. 7-9 begin with the word “submit.” That word packs a whallop. It means to come under something and yield to it (hupeiko). It is not something you can necessarily force another person to do, but it must be done willingly, and implies that the submitter acknowledges the superiority of the one to whom he submits. It is closely aligned to humility and is the attitude that makes us able to be humble. So what prevents submission and humility? Pride. Pride like that which Satan had when he assumed that he could rise up and be equal to God. He was grossly mistaken and kicked out of heaven for it. For us, submission comes first, then the ability to resist temptation follows next in line. Submission and humility puts us where God is able to do something major for us. He can lift us up only after we place ourselves willingly beneath him. We must acknowledge that He is God and we are not. It is hard to imagine anyone not catching on to that, but some are still ignorant of their humanness in the face of God’s transcendent deity.

So, what are you? Proud or humble? It’s obviously an important question because it makes all the difference between living a life in opposition to God, or living a life basking in God’s grace.

Humility’s one of those illusive traits where it’s hard to know if you have it or not. I remember the old song I parodied: I’m so proud that I’m ashamed, but I’m ashamed that I’m proud… (Based on “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God)

As soon as we think we’re humble, we get proud of how humble we are, which brings us right back to where we started, and we have to get humble again.

So today, with the help of James, we’re going to clear up all the confusion … because this chapter lays out a bunch of the warning signs of pride. You see, humbling ourselves … and submitting ourselves to God … is not a one-time thing. It’s a way of life. Every day we need to be on guard, watching for the warning signs that PRIDE is raising its haughty head in our lives.

1. Constant Conflict

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

How are things going in your closest relationships? Are you constantly in conflict with your spouse or neighbors or co-workers … or even with people in your church family? This is a clear warning sign that PRIDE has reared it’s ugly head.

Have you even noticed that people who are at odds with the people around them are sure of one thing: that they are RIGHT. Not only are they RIGHT, but they are more important than all those other WRONG people around them. These are people who took that old Burger King commercial a little too literally: Have it YOUR way.

There’s another thing at work here. If you are constantly clashing with people around you, you may have the idea that you are in control. James says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” We don’t tend to ask God for things when we’re convinced that we can get those things for ourselves.

This is a false kind of self-sufficiency. The root cause is pride. The solution is to recognize the pride in your heart and then to humble yourself before God. But even when we do turn to God in prayer, we may find another warning sign … unanswered prayer.

2. Unanswered Prayer

3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

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